The Untied Lace 6


Half into the run, the aglet clicked at my heel. Each left foot step brought it flinging back to strike my bare ankle. Something a friend had said a week earlier flicked my mind like the aglet pelted my heel. She had said something about the untied lace.

I didn’t know what she meant, but the phrase continued to clang around in my head with the sound of my breath, the pulse of my heart, the thrum of my feet on pavement. My guess is that she and I might cull different ideas from the image of the untied shoe, and that is kind of perfect, in and of itself.

I was determined to run without a training mindset. It had been 2 weeks since I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon, and about 20 weeks since I had started training for said marathon. For that long, my running was not about shaking loose the limbs or the mind crumbs. My running was not about cobbling together some mildly adequate sentences for an article or a blog post or a book. It was laser pointed on the Finish Line at Point State Park.

After completing a marathon, I have heard people say they will never run another, or that it was the worst thing ever. I have also heard people run them back to back to back, for a variety of insane reasons I can’t quite get my mind around. I didn’t want to be one of those people. I wanted to remember what it was like when I had first begun to run.

So I set out with a question I wanted to attack, some excellent tunes, and a rough idea of where I wanted to run. No calendar, no Eye of the Tiger focus, no mental talk about how strong I am. Nothing but this one question.

The question related to a project I want to finish by the end of July, and I wasn’t sure where to go next with it. And herein lies my genius. The run was exactly what I needed it to be; exactly the thing I most loved about running in the first place. It untied my laces. It set free the knots in my head that clenched around problems with bare teeth and unrelenting vigor.

Even more perfectly timed than a teen musical, the shoelace began to slap my leg at the exact moment I had solved the problem of what to do next. Serendipitous, no? I thought of my friend, and her phraseology, of my problem, of running, and of tied and untied shoes.

Some people might see an untied shoe and decide it’s a job that hasn’t been finished. I see the untying of laces quite oppositely. When I get back home, untie the shoes, drop the socks in the hamper, feeling the warm buzz in my legs and the glow in my lungs, something else is almost always unknotted, too.