My heart was pounding. I could feel it beating against my ribs. My breath came in rapid, shallow bursts. It felt like a 300 pound man was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t think. My thoughts raced. I was having a panic attack. Another one.
I was sitting in my office and I knew that I wasn’t going to get any more work that day so I went home. Home to the the second floor apartment I had moved into a month earlier, a month after my husband of 9 years told me he wanted a divorce. When I got there I thought: I can sit on my couch and listen to my blood pound in my ears or I can do something else. Anything else. I decided to run.
It was an unseasonably warm day in early April, 2013. I pulled on a pair of running shoes from the back of my closet and a t shirt and shorts and headed outside. I told myself I would run until I was tired and then I would turn around and run home. And that’s what I did. I ran until I my breathing steadied and my heart rate slowed. Until my already heavy legs felt tired from work instead of stress.
I can’t remember how far I ran or how long or even returning to my apartment. What I do remember is the bright sunlight and the warmth hitting my sides and my legs and my arms. And I remember feeling more at peace than I had in a very long time after that run. After that initial run I decided that I would run every morning that I didn’t have my son with me. And I stuck with that. 3 or 4 mornings a week (depending on my custody schedule) I would pull on running shoes and head out the door. At first I ran short distances– 1 mile, 2. It was at least a month before I even thought to calculate my distance. I ran without a phone. The only thing I would take was my keys and my second generation iPod.
I felt freedom. And peace. This was the beginning.