On the Fly

I dream about running. Does anyone else do this?

On the plane to a business meeting, I close my eyes and in minutes, the thing I hear is the thing I’m craving most: gravel under foot. Just imagining that steady crunching sound, I start to feel my shallow, frenzied breath even out.

In the cramped, recycled-air cabin that smells like human- I could not be farther away. In a place that smells instead like dirt, pine needles, and cold. My head is running me down one of my favorite trails, a lonely dirt road through forest and farmland and fresh, freezing air.

The hum of the engine rumbles, fading away underneath the new sounds of morning, quick, deep drinks of mountain air, the birds on the breeze. I am waking up somewhere else, but it’s not the place my plane is headed. By the time we land, I’m grinning, calm. I’ve been out of the game for a little over a week, benched by another cold that wouldn’t let go.

But I’m coming for that run.

Maybe it knows I’ll be back, and it’s working into waking dreams now too, to keep me sane, to keep me ready. I like to think so. Blink anymore these days and I’m there, sweat on my temples and thundering heart in my chest. It feels good to feel better, but feeling tired after a good, long run is probably the best medicine I could give myself. Until then, I’ll be self-medicating in shut eye.

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