It seems most love stories begin with a 'moment' or epiphany. Maybe it's an exchanged look, a shared laugh, or just a feeling of ease in the presence of someone else.
I've often wondered how many people really experience love this way. My first love didn't happen this way. Sparks didn't fly. I wasn't enamored immediately. Butterflies were conspicuously absent.
For me, it was more of a slow burn. I can't point to an exact moment when I knew, but like anyone else I knew it when it arrived.
I was 15 years old struggling to find any kind of comfort or solace in my own skin. Vaguely estranged from my parents and generally uncomfortable around most of my peers, I was a portrait of teen angst.
Finding 'love' was the furthest thing from my horizon, but I suppose it found me. The first few furtive flirtations would eventually give way to a seemingly boundless affection. Once I got a taste, I couldn't get enough.
For the first time in my life, the awkwardness seemed to disappear. The discomfort and angst faded if only for a few miles.
When I was on the road, I felt comfortable. I felt in control. I felt at ease. The miles I logged were an escape, a shoulder to cry on, and a source of hope.
Often confronted with a home filled with anger, conflict, and instability, I suddenly discovered I could find solace and peace only a few miles away.
If I wanted to run fast, I could. If I wanted to run far, I could. There were no limits, there were no constraints, there were only opportunities. I was free to do whatever I wanted and I wasn't beholden to the challenges I experienced at home or at school.
I came to embrace running unconditionally. Some days this was not reciprocated as I would finish a run feeling exhausted and spent. But, more often than not I felt exhilarated and inspired.