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When I was a teenager, I spent a short stint as a runner. My best friend Holly and I would meet up halfway between our houses and set off for a run through our neighborhood. We would continue all the way down a long dirt road that eventually led us to the center of town. Along the way we passed miles of Cape Cod rhododendrons, duck ponds, and other beautiful scenery. We kept a good pace, all the while enjoying each other's company. I can still remember the feeling of my svelte teenage body gliding along the pavement in a pair of navy shorts, my long blond ponytail bouncing, my pink cheeks flush with heat, and my forehead glistening with sweat.
After those runs, I always felt so happy and alive. I felt a sense of connectedness to the world. And I had a true friend to share it with. Considering this, I wonder why I ever gave up running. But I did. Once Holly moved away for college, I abandoned running altogether. Although I took up walking after we got our dog and spent several years going to a health club on and off again, I've never experienced a workout as motivating as those runs so long ago.
Last year, I decided I would take up running again come this spring. In November, when the weather got really chilly, I kept dreaming about warm spring mornings when I would begin my training. I even dreamed about finding a fellow mom friend to share the experience with. Of course, this was pre-pregnancy. Now that I'm fourteen weeks pregnant, and yes, starting to show, I know it's not realistic to start a running program now. I'm kicking myself for not starting sooner. I wish I was already a runner. Then I would have no hesitation about running while pregnant.
Instead, with the exception of walking, I haven't exercised seriously since before Julia was born. That's almost four years for those of you wondering. But last year, shortly after Elise started walking (and destroying everything in her path), I realized that not only did I need more energy to keep up with my young girls, but I also needed an outlet for releasing both physical and emotional stress. That's when I decided I would start running again.
So here I am. Pregnant; yet sadly, not in good enough shape to start running now. So I'll walk. With my sneakers laced up and a small bump protruding from my mid-section, I might not look like that long ago girl with the sprightly young gate, but the movement of one foot in front of the other may be just enough to help me get in shape and destress. And with my ipod set to the right music, I might even get my ponytail bouncing once again.
Shelley Abreu is a freelance writer living on Cape Cod. She can be found walking briskly on warm spring mornings.