I watched my ponytail swinging in the long shadow running in front of me like a playful little girl. It inspired me to pick up my feet, and my form looked pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.

I bundled up to brace against the wind, but the sunshine and my own body heat kept me nice and toasty warm. I had chocolate in my pocket, and sweet grape Gatorade in my hand. This is my new “kicking back” on a Saturday afternoon, sans the easy chair.

I settled in quickly to a comfortable pace, and my body found its happy place right away.

I realized, as I bounced along, that I’m no longer a marathoner in training. I am a Marathoner. It’s beginning to sink in now, finally, now that the hype is over and I’m back home in the countryside. I did it. I think I ran taller, better, more confidently, knowing this. And I felt like the cars that passed would know. There’s that Marathon Girl. The small hills were nothing to me today, and I sprung up and down them easily, with power and energy to spare.

Farm machines sat idly in the fields, resting, after beginning the arduous job of turning the soil over to signify the end of yet another life cycle. The nearly naked trees cast long, skinny shadows across the roads, making interesting patterns among the crisp fallen leaves. Aromatic pines mixed with burning fires and decomposing organic stuff, creating a heavy, sensual musky scent that is unmistakably Fall.

It’s all so connected – this running and these farms. Watching the ground spring to life and then go to sleep again is a miracle that is deeply connected to my soul and brings me into a beautiful, coveted state of being. I am returning to the earth – to my life. I am shedding old skin, old thoughts, old behavior with every mile; my sanity is being restored to me.

My Self is re-emerging after a very long, very difficult winter. She is strong. She is determined. She is beautiful. And I love her.

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