The thump of my heels on the sidewalk.
The splash of my water into my parched mouth, and on the back of my neck.
The smell of freshly-cut grass.
The distant drone of a lawnmower.
The nearby buzz of a leafblower.
The cool shade of an oak tree.
The diesel exhaust of a truck that passes.
The warm rush of air in the draft of the truck.
The swirl of dust and leaves.
A quick wave to another runner, coming toward and passing me.
Pushing myself to keep running up a gentle incline that feels like a mountain.
“Passed one mile in twelve minutes, thirteen seconds.”
The first mile is always the hardest.
Nine weeks after I hurt myself, five weeks after I wondered if it was an injury I’d never recover from, and two weeks after I started seriously rehabbing it, I’ve been back on the road every couple of days, going a little farther each time, running a little longer without stopping, making my comfort zone a little bigger.
Today, I ran a little over 5280 feet in about 12 minutes, but this particular first mile took about three months.
The interrogation of my dogs when I return to my house.
Their tails wagging against my legs when I gently push them away.
Their noses on my shoulders when I sit down to stretch.
A cool glass of water.
The fizz of an electrolyte tablet.
Catching my breath.
Sweat running down my back, down my face, down my arms.
The heaviness of exhausted leg muscles.
The joy of finishing the first mile, which, if measured in actual time distance and, was much longer.