Last run of the year

For my last run of the year, I decided that I would run up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. I havenít been up there in many weeks and was looking forward to seeing my beloved city from above. Many times in the last two weeks, I have looked up at the Christmas tree in the corner closest to the city, which is lit up every night. I was excited when I woke up this morning because I knew that I would finally realize my running goal for the last day of the year.

I opened the window to see what temperature it was outside. I put on an extra layer of running gear and a pair of gloves. I headed downstairs, arrived in the piazza, walked along the lungarno facing the sun, and when I arrived at Ponte alle Grazie, I began to run.

I have run to Piazzale Michelangiolo a few times this year. Itís not an easy run for me because of the incline. I generally run on much flatter surfaces. I originally wanted to go the long way to the piazzale by passing through Piazza Pitti, Porta Romana and then heading up the long, yet low, incline, but I didnít have the time this morning. Instead, I ran along the lungarno toward Ponte San NiccolÚ, went through a few residential streets to reach the viale, and headed up the steeper incline to the piazzale.

Like any goal I am in the middle of, there are moments when I want to stop. It was colder than I realized along the path under the trees. The chilly wind made my eyes water and burned my skin at times, but I kept going. I could see my breath in front of me as I exhaled. Cars passed by quickly in both directions, but no one was walking, running, or biking on my side of the trail. I hadnít run an incline in a while so it was more tiring for me. A few times I thought about just walking instead, but I donít like to stop running unless I have side stitches or cramps. I knew that if I stopped running, I would have to walk briskly back. With the cool temperatures, I knew that I would be miserable and then end up running again. I might as well keep running, I thought.

At one stretch of the path, the sun fell lightly on my body. It felt so good that I stopped thinking about how much effort I was putting into this run. I looked out at the valley below and tried to boost my spirits by telling myself how far I have come. But that didnít work because I knew that I had a lot farther to run. I kept reminding myself of the amazing view from the piazzale; I didnít want to miss out on that. I couldnít let myself turn back now or walk down the hill.

It wasnít until I reached the small opening above the campeggio (campground) where I finally got a good glimpse of the city. ďIím almost there. I can do it,Ē I repeated to myself. The prize is within reach. I looked down at the stone path that I was running on, trying to be careful of the uneven ground on which my feet were landing. I couldnít keep looking out at the view, but I knew that it was there and soon it would be mine.

When I finally made it to the piazzale with the parking lot filled with cars and buses, I felt a sense of joy come over me. I did it. The sun was there to greet me. My black running gear soaked it up and warmed up my body. I ran past the tourists who were standing above my beloved city and enjoyed the view along with them. The Duomo dominating the view with the snowcapped hills in the distance. The sky was clear and I could see the entire city in front of me.

My run today was significant for me and the year that is about to arrive. Each time I run is like a goal I set. I have to prepare myself mentally and physically, keep my pace and motivate myself to keep going until I reach the end. There are moments when I want to stop, moments when I donít know why Iím doing it at all, and moments when I wonder if it really even matters. But all those doubts I just exhale out of me and leave behind as I keep moving forward; I donít stop until I reach my goal. Running may be a small (and possibly insignificant) goal for most people, but the more I do it, the more I realize how much it teaches me about life and about other goals in my life. I have learned that the more positive and strong my thoughts are, the more invincible I am. It didnít matter if I slept well or if my body was ready for the run. My head was in charge.

Running has allowed me to discipline myself, get in good shape, feel good about my body and my life, and gives me the quiet time I need to think and experience my thoughts individually. I am happy that I have always had running in my life. At times, I have stopped, but felt my best when I was running. I know that running is not for everyone, but I hope that everyone can find something that they enjoy as much as I do running.

Running enriches my life because not only do I receive great insights into my life, my work, and my writing, I also am able to feel successful for achieving so many goals I set my mind to. It was perfect that I chose to run up to the piazzale this morning. A small challenge to parallel the year to come. My sights are high, there might be a few setbacks, but I know that if I set my mind to it, success is within reach.

Seeing my beloved city this morning from the piazzale was the greatest gift and well worth the effort. My end-of-the-year treat that I wish everyone could enjoy as much as me.

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