It's not an odd thing to run twice in one day. It truly isn't. My family seems to think it's normal anyway. When you're juggling around "responsibilities" and "commitments" and, well, life... You run when the opportunity presents itself. You make use of every second you have; whether that's planking while your coffee is perking, squatting in the hallway between clients, or carrying all the bags of groceries home because you know there isn't time for weight training later... you make use of the time you have.
After all, we all get the same 24 hours every day. Seriously, you there, reading this; why haven't you started a wall sit at the same time? Honestly...
Anyway, the curse/blessing of a double run day means you get ALL the weather in a season switch (-4C in the morning, 18C in the afternoon, and a windy 7C at dusk), it means your shoes get circulated. Trail in the morning, road in the afternoon, hybrid in the evening. It means headlamps recharge while you're out at lunch, and sunscreen sits abandoned at 9pm. Reflective vests anyone?
Because nothing says sexy quite like a reflective vest, headlamp, trail shoes and snot rockets .... right? Oh man I hope so. It's like my mom always used to say, shave your legs... you never know.... or something like that.
It's 9pm on a Saturday. Kids are in bed or organized with random activities. Shoes are tied. Headlamps are on. Run key in hand. Hybrid shoes on.
Wait, you never wear your headlamp? Did I pick the wrong shoes? Crap.. Time is running out and 11km starting at my bedtime is not a super happy feeling to begin with. But I'm committed to getting my mileage for the week up past 200km. Why? For no reason. Why? Because it means I get to spend an hour and twenty minutes with this guy. Why? I'm not number obsessed. Just a crazy ultra shuffler with laces tied. Why? Because, dam it.... I said I would.
And out we go.
He picks the turns. Normally I fret about time, elevation, my pace, getting home, said I'd be home, this way is 40 seconds longer, that way has a bigger hill... I don't like waiting for traffic at that corner. But tonight I let it go. I let it go, and he picks the turns. The night air is cool but not cold, and the shoes carry me on.
I breathe a sigh of relief when he skips the left up the hill. I fall into step. Not much to call out, very little to guide. Help crossing the road, one or two curbs, a bridge seam, the mile beep. And an unexpected left turn.
"Hope you love me?"
Oh you bugger... this hill, what we call the Moon hill, is way steeper than the road hill he just skipped. You bugger. Time is not on my side and the steepness means an extra 80 seconds on the ascent. Gravel under my hybrid shoes crunching out against each toe off. Fine. FINE. I'll run your dam hill.
Up and up and up and up. It's really not that steep. It's really nothing. It's no mountain. It's not escarpment. It's just a hill. I do like the view up there. And the moon is so pretty hanging there, almost perfect, on the edge of my vision, just outside the headlamp hue. At least now I know why the second head lamp.
Wait do you hear that?
"There are people up there?" I say.
"I hear them. We're okay" he reassures.
People are fine. But in the dark, on a trail that loops up to a neighbourhood, meeting the corner park at a three way stop between roads? People playing music loud enough for me to hear down here? I worried. I worried about confrontation, about delays, about worse case scenarios.
"There's people up there on the left?" I said again.
The trail at the top does a loop, a circle around the plateau and the park. When we run repeats here, we run the loop and back down the hill, turn around at the bottom in a round about and run back up. At the top he veers left, towards the people, towards the music playing in the dark at 9:30pm. I start walking five steps from the top, heart rate rising. People.
"Baby I have to take a stone out of my shoe, I'm just gonna stop a minute" he says.
"Okay, sure, rocks are annoying and stuff" Plus I love to walk. Seriously, you don't need to give me any excuse to walk. I'm in. Heck I only run with you people so we can walk sometimes. Geez... stupid hills.
"Hey we're on our Moon Hill darling" he says. Of course we are, you picked this left. Truth be told I love that moon, love this hill; and he dam well knows it. What a flirt.
"Yes we are. It's special here" Or would be if not for the people? Why are they here batman? Weird of people to be out after dark and stuff.
I turn to him. He's sweet to know the day has been long. He's sweet to think I needed this view, this air, this time with him. He's still on the ground. Musta been a big stone.
"I'm going to do this thing baby" he whispers. He never whispers.
Wait. What thing? Holy moly there are people here. The music is off now though. And for all the space I had felt between us moments before, now there isn't but a breath, there isn't but a hairs width of emptiness. I'm right there, in front of him on the ground. Inappropriately close for public. Of course we wouldn't be in public if those people would go home!! People are walking now. They're getting closer. What thing?
From somewhere (I don't know where) he pulls a heavy handful of something. Lifts it up to me. This is no shoe stone stowaway. What is this?
And I'm crying.
"I don't have a ring for you baby. But I do have this" This? This... Oh my god.. I know what this is.
And I'm crying.
This is the Race Buckle from the race we first met at. This is the beginning we never saw coming. This was the first face to face we ever shared. This buckle he earned for running so very far during our shared adventures at Dirty Girls 48hr race so many years ago. I had a buckle from the same race. A much smaller buckle. I'd managed my first 100 miles there. I'd seen him, just after he'd earned this buckle, I had begged him, having lost my guide in the night through some offence, I had begged him to come with me. I'd only needed three more loops. Please would he come? He couldn't. At the time, spent from having pushed so very hard, he couldn't. There was nothing left in the tank. And fearfully, I'd gone off into the darkness alone. Running. Running like all the scary bears in the world were chasing me.
Part of our story. Part of us. This buckle, this moon hill, this space and all the time it took to find each other through chaos and mayhem and friendship. He knew. He knew a ring wouldn't mean anything to me. But this?
And I'm still crying.
"Baby will you marry me?" I hear him. Think I hear him. Can't be so. Can it?
I pull him up. Standing again, close to me and I'm now so grateful I didn't actually blow that snot rocket just before this began. The people walked by and I see now why he wasn't worried. They are not prepubescent hooligans, but a family who had come out to watch the same moon.
"Enjoy your run" they said in passing, going right around the loop.
"Run?" I said. "You mean proposal!"
They "oooo-ed" and "Awww-ed" and laughed... under the same sappy mush ball moon he'd brought me to see.
Once they'd left, we were alone again.
"So is that a yes?" he asks.
'That's a yes" I'm still crying.
As we came around the end of the loop and onto the road, the people were all there. To me there was even more of them. Standing in the road, random moon sharing strangers calling out to me in the dark "Did you say yes?"
"Of course I did!" I called back....
and time, which never stands still for long, carried on... and we ran together under the moon, briefly holding hands....
"You are such a mush ball !!!" I said.
"Don't tell everyone my secret! They'll think I'm a softy" he answered.
.... but no baby... you are not a softy... you are my rock, my safe place. You are my now and forever. You are my always. And you are so very stuck with me!
Okay, you can all stop your wall sitting now. See how productive you are at multitasking?