When I’m with Kate, I’m an exaggerated version, smiling big, loving loud, with animated facial expressions and (sometimes) feigned excitement about My Little Pony and shirts with ruffles.
When I’m around other people I tend to tailor myself to the moment — afraid to make a fool of myself or say something inappropriate. I want those I interact with to think I’m slightly less silly than I like to be, and slightly more grown up. I want them to think I am composed, elegant, fun, spontaneous, and all the good things — all the things people like about other people.
But when I’m running — on the treadmill or on the sidewalk or down the bike lanes of busy streets — I am most honestly myself. Not an animated, or toned-down version. I sing out loud and I pant and sweat. My eyes water and my heart races. I smile when I’m happy, when I find the perfectly-paced song to strike my feet to, and I wince when my knees ache and my muscles sting up steep hills or through cold weather.
My face reflects how I’m feeling physically, because I’m always happy when I’m running. It shows raw and instantaneous reaction. When I’m running — on the treadmill or on the sidewalk or down the bike lanes of busy streets — is the only time I love, laugh, feel, sing and dance like no one’s watching. They are the only moments I create for myself, rather than fitting into someone else’s.
That’s why I have to run, and why I have to run every day. It’s my moment.