Running isn’t about the destination, or the miles, or how fast you get there. It’s about finding yourself. It’s about losing yourself. It’s about getting to the zone and realizing you could move like this all day. And it doesn’t happen over night. You have to work at it. Anything worth having is worth working for. After months, maybe years, of working for it, one day it clicks. And you are addicted.
At least that’s how it happened for me.
Rewind about 20 years to junior high and high school. I couldn’t run to save my life. My little lungs couldn’t keep up with my legs. The one day a year that we ran the mile in gym class was my most dreaded of days. I could sprint and do the hurdles, but endurance running was for horses. 10 years later I would marry a cross country runner. Go figure. He tried to get me into it, and as a gym rat and personal trainer you would think I’d be all for it. It took two friends over dinner and drinks to commit to signing up for a race…a half marathon at that. None of us had run before. We started the very next week, and we were determined to be the Smoking Hot Chicks Running. Of course we started in June, and that first summer was the hottest I can remember. I don’t know how we actually stuck with it. We couldn’t even make it a tenth of a mile without being completely winded. One of us developed a hamstring injury and had to back down. By winter we could go 3 – 5 miles, still not without A LOT of effort. I remember that first winter being frigid, running over snow and ice with two pairs of pants, two shirts and a jacket, a scarf over my face, a hat on my head, and gloves. I hate being cold. I have a picture of me running the Groundhog 7 miler in February 2008, and I actually look happy. We did end up running the half marathon in May 2008, and I came in at 3:00:50 with my hamstrings screaming.
For the next year and 3 months, my running partner and I continued to run, train and race in 5k, 5 milers, and more half marathons. When I found out I was pregnant in summer 2009 I was determined to run through my pregnancy. My body had other ideas and basically told me to take a year and a half off. I started running sporadically again when my son was about 6 months old. I was afraid I would be starting over again, but surprisingly I maintained and was able to pick up running 1 – 2 miles. This past summer, with my son 15 months old, we signed up for a marathon with Team In Training. Some of you know all about that, and most of that journey is written in past blog posts here. I had a long way to go from 1 – 2 miles per run to finishing 26.2. The accountability and camaraderie within TNT is unmatched. I made it across the finish line, with minor aches and pains. So now, 4.5 years after I started running, I AM a runner. I AM a marathoner. I AM an athlete. And I had to work for it. In all my runs so far, I’ve hit that peaceful-I-can-do-this-forever zone only a handful of times. When it happens, it is magical.
It is now 2 months post marathon and I finally caught my running log up with my Nike+. Turns out I only ran 4 times in November, and only 4 times so far in December. Remember, I hate being cold. Looking at the log has me inspired though. I’ve been doing P90X the last two months, and in my last couple of runs I can really tell a difference. Two days ago I took the stroller out to the park and ran 2 miles in 10:15. Today the mild weather was calling, so I answered and went out and ran a mile (without the stroller) in 9:17. My marathon training pace was an average of 10:45. I am excited to see what it will be when running season picks back up. And to keep myself accountable, I’m going to be posting my training runs and my race finish times here. 2012 is the year of the adventure race, and I’ve just about got all the races I want to do mapped out. It should be an exciting year! 2013 I plan to sign up with TNT again and do a local marathon. It’s good to have goals. What are yours?