BY BETT KINYATTI
I’m running in the mornings again. I’d forgotten how good I feel after an hour of a brisk run and stretches to warm up and warm down.
God, I feel good! It’s like buoying in a post-coital bubble. Only better. I’m knackered but I’m not worn out, know what I mean? I’m pumped full of endorphins, my skin is salty and sweaty. My eyes are gorged wide open like Papa Shirandula’s – it’s like I’m looking around for the next high. I’m bouncing on the balls of my feet wanting to punch something, somebody – anything – in the face. Aaaah, I’m even punching my open palms just to release some of the energy. That’s how amped I feel.
I wish I could share some of it with you.
The most difficult part of running in the morning is getting out of bed.
I’m glad my eyes snapped open at 4.58 a.m., before the alarm buzzed at 5. Because that meant my body was ripe and ready to wake up. I had rode the waves of sleep – the highs of REM and the dips of N-REM – now my body was rested and rousing itself out of the slumber. (Look that up, by the way, the science of sleep.)
An alarm will sometimes find you in REM, so you won’t be good and ready to wake up. But you’ll be forced to, and you’ll be in the middle of a dream, and your brain activity will be as if you’re wide awake, and your mind won’t be present in your body, it’ll be elsewhere, in dreamland, so you’ll wake up in a sour mood. With fatigue. And stinging eyes. That’s why folk fling those damn alarm clocks across the room into the wall in a fit of tantrums.
At 4.58, I tell myself to sleep for two more minutes until the alarm buzzes.
The alarm buzzes.
I stare into the darkness inert, listening to GB snore.
Then I begin the motivational monologue. “Chic, get up. Imagine get up. You’re already up anyway. Just get out of bed and go put on your running clothes. You already prepped them last night, there’re folded in a pile by the wardrobe door just waiting for you to put them on. And your trainers are right there. Right there. C’mon, you can do this. Remember how good you’ll feel after running. C’mon, you’re better than the sleep.”
I check my phone again. 5.10. Nanny Viv is up, I can hear her pouring Vim into the toilet.
I don’t remember the last time I ran in the morning. It must have been huko Jan, Feb… I’m not even certain.
I was losing too much weight, so I put a pause to the intensity and told myself to run only Sunday mornings. Muna started school so I figured to sleep in on Sundays, so there went the run. Then the baby-making storo came into the picture. Other excuses checked in. Before I realise it, three months have gone and my trainers are gathering dust wherever they were.
Not too long after that, we moved house. It’s taken me two months to settle into this new house. I sometimes get late to leave in the mornings because I’m looking for my pants or a blouse, just something. Weekends are about decluttering clothes and sorting out storage. Then there are boxes with old documents that still need to be sifted through.
I decided last week to begin running again because of three reasons. One, I’m that Kale chick who likes to run. It’s written in our DNA, we were made to run. I’m Kipsigis and from Kaplong, it’s the Tugens from Eldoret and the north who were built to run, but still. It’s in my blood.
I know folk who enjoy gym because of weight training, I loved cardio. I’d have stayed in gym if that had been the only item on my program.
Two, I’ve awfully added weight. My favourite jeans and favourite bra don’ fit anymore. I wore the jeans last Thursday and at some point in the afternoon, I had to unbutton them so I could breathe like a normal human being again. I was about to pass out, I swear. The last time I felt like this, I began to drink the homemade green smoothies daily to detox.
Then there’s my bra – my pricey comfortable bra from Woolworths. It was a treat to myself. Pricey, as I’ve said, yes but it makes up for its tag. Know how you sometimes can’t wait to get to the digs so you can take off that damn bra? Or sometimes, you take it off in traffic because the digs now feels like so far, like it’s on the Busia border? It’s never like this with this Woolies bra – I can live in it. What’s more, it holds my tatas up in a way that no other bra does. It’s Bra-zil in there, hahha. I even hang it on its own hanger because I don’t want its morals tainted by the others. But hang on, maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I should hang them all together so they can pick up tips from it. Hehhe.
Anyway. Third reason I run is because it’s cathartic. When I feel my heart beat and my pores perspire, the bad blood is my heart goes out so the fresh blood can flood it with its purity and oxygen. I feel like I’m signing myself a new lease of life. (Cliché, excuse me.)
And when I perspire, all the negativity exits my body – the bad karma my haters have flung my way, the slack, the anxiety and insecurities as an urban girl, the silent treatment I may have given GB next week, Muna’s tantrums, the saggy roll threatening to pitch tent around my waist, negative vibes, procrastination, lifestyle disease, immaturity…. It all leaves. I’m cleansed. Reborn.
I mean, take a look at this – it’s the second day in a row I’m posting to the blog.
Let’s not even get into what it’ll do for my performance in the sack. Aye? Aye? (I’m elbowing you in the ribs playfully as I say that.) Someone’s gon’ gerriit! (P-Unit accent.)
Listen though, I was convinced my body had forgotten how to run. By the time I stopped running back when I did, I was setting new personal records for myself. I was doing more kilometres over a shorter time, and I wasn’t dragging my feet back to the digs after, as if I’d been in a shamba digging.
Our human bodies are amazing, though. My muscles hadn’t forgotten.
When I eventually roll out of bed at 5.17 a.m., I go into auto-mode: I pee, wash my face and gargle some water. Then I strip down in the darkness to put on my running clothes. Hood my jacket, strap on my silly kiddies watch, lace my trainers and I leave the snoring man in the blackened room, out into the kitchen. I find Nanny Viv prepping the ngwaces and nduma for breakfast.
I have two tall glasses of water, stretch for 15 minutes in the living room then I’m out the door, into the cover of the breaking dawn.
The air smells like determination.
I didn’t think I could hack the run with my creaky knees and saggy thighs. But I do. Somewhere in my head, the file with my old running stats was retrieved, its dust blown off and it was inserted into the hard drive of my muscle memory. Then it all came back. I run the way I used to run. Granted, I have to map out a new route, a straight one nonetheless, one that seems longer than my old familiar circuit, but if someone was stopped and asked, they’d have said, “Nope, that Kale chick didn’t take a running hiatus. Surely, look at her go?”
Like I said, I feel good. I feel fucking good.
Time now is 10.40 a.m.
I’m headed to Ngong Road to meet some chap who makes pendant lighting using traditional sticks from Western Kenyan. It’s for my Crafts and Culture column, story will run on Saturday. It’ll be a good one, a Kenyan story – these are the ones I love writing. Informal and in the outdoor, underneath the sun.
Of course I’m assuming he’ll say yes to the interview. If he doesn’t, I’ll figure my way out.