The Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen

I am a runner.
That’s what I do.
That’s what I am.
Running is all I know, or want, or care about.
It was a race around the soccer field in third grade that swept me into a real love of running.
Breathing the sweet smell of spring grass.
Sailing over dots of blooming clover.
Beating all the boys.
After that, I couldn’t stop. I ran everywhere. Raced everyone I loved the wind across my cheeks, through my hair.
Running aired out my soul.
It made me feel alive.
-Wendelin Van Draanen, The Running Dream

The world is quiet.
No cars.
No people.
No hustle and bustle.
Just the rhythmic padding of our feet against pavement.
Sherlock is happy beside me. His white fur seems to flow through the morning mist, and he doesn’t miss a beat. I turn, he turns. I speed up, he speeds up. No leash to connect us. No commands to control him. We’re bound by the joy of running
We reach the river, and the air is heavenly. It sparkles my face, washes my lungs, fills me with a sense of fluid motion. I glide beneath the trees, transform into wind.
-Wendelin Van Draanen, The Running Dream

That’s the funny thing about running. The deceptive thing about it. It may seem mindless, but it’s really largely mental. If the mind’s not strong, the body acts weak, even if it’s not. If the mind says it’s too cold or too rainy or too windy to run, the body will be more than happy to agree. If the mind says it would be better to rest or recover or cut practice, the body will be glad to oblige.
…So maybe it’s something you’re born with. Or maybe it’s something you adopt. I just know that for me, running was like eating and breathing—it was something I had always done, and without it I felt miserable.
-Wendelin Van Draanen, The Running Dream

“Tell me about running. Why do you like it?”
No one has ever asked me this so directly before. Either people like running or they don’t. Either people get it or they don’t. And if they don’t, they just think people who like it are crazy.
Which is okay.
That makes us even.
But now I have to explain why I like it, and I’m not sure where to start.
…I try to put my finger on it. “Because it feels like freedom?”
She nods thoughtfully.
“And your mind travels places where it doesn’t normally go….”
-Wendelin Van Draanen, The Running Dream

“Going over the finish line must feel wonderful.”
I laugh. “Especially if you’re the first one there.”
“But…it means you finished. You made it. Even if you don’t get a medal.”
I look at her. “You’re very philosophical about the finish line.”
She gives a thoughtful nod. “It’s symbolic.” I nod too, because I’m sure I know what she means, but then she adds, “Because its also the starting line.”
-Wendelin Van Draanen, The Running Dream


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