IF, FOR SOME REASON, I stop during a long run I get a curious pleasant floating sensation, as though suddenly I weigh much less than usual. My feet seem hardly to touch the ground, and I float along for a few zingy yards or even more until the system comes back to normal. This also happens at the cool-down end of the run, when I'm walking briskly after having slowed for a quarter mile or so. I imagine that endorphins and the general rushing around of effervescent superoxygenated blood, combined with the abrupt change of pace and cessation of heavy exertion all contribute their share. Plus, of course I feel good.

It's definitely the exact same feeling, without the elated overtones and the rush of serious business hormones that accompany the first big adolescent love affair. There is, connected with running, a feeling of elation, but it is unfocused and general. In addition, in both true love and high exertion running, there is a slight sensation of tunnel vision; you actually can't see very well, as though you're going to black out but without the concomitant unpleasant feeling of lightheadedness. Well, you do feel lightheaded, but it's nice.

As I recollect, the feeling lasted all the way home, a distance of a few miles under a paintbox blue sky fading into sunset. It may have lasted even longer, although the specific memory is along one stretch of unpaved verge. I could find the spot today, if it hasn't been altered past knowing.

My parents remarked the dippy smile and abstracted inattention to matters that normally involved me totally, like dinner. My father that very evening checked to make sure I knew about the birds and bees, nervous of becoming a premature grandpa. The signs are that obvious. Teenagers are not good at dissembling. I wonder if anyone has done any research on why people love to be in love, and love to exercise. They both feel really good, that's for sure, and both harbor pain and risk, and both are totally commanding.

July 7, 1994