If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever. Winnie the Pooh

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Happy Runner

I debated whether I should start a whole new blog to document the journey I'm on or include it in Running Into a Wall. Then I re-read the title of my blog and thought back to my first blog entry: it was about my very first half-marathon. And it didn't take too much convincing to go ahead and put it here. Yes, this blog has mostly, ok ok, it has turned into a blog about my kids....but it was always supposed to be about ALL things in my life. And that includes running.

I started running a year or so after Claire was born. Initially, I did it to kick up my weight loss goal a notch. I had been working out faithfully for 6 months (even hired a trainer) but the last 10 pounds weren't budging. I remember walking by a runner at the gym and the little light was flashing that they had been running for 45 minutes on the treadmill. 45 minutes?! What is she, a machine? I thought to myself. How in the world can someone run that long? So I jumped on the treadmill to see what I could do. I couldn't finish one mile. Not even one. I was so out of breath that I had to slow the pace down to a walk. Eventually I finished that first mile and it was in about 14 minutes. Wow.

I remember running in middle school and the girls in my PE class fell into two groups. The walkers and the runners. I chose the running group and we'd push each other to get as fast as a time as possible...I got 6:45. So, how in the world did I go from that, to running a 14 minute mile?!

Life happened. I have never been very physically active. I certainly am not talented in the athletic department. At family reunions we'd gather to play softball or volleyball and I'd get nervous. My cousins were so athletic: sports players. My brothers were always involved in football, basketball, soccer, baseball. And then there was me. I played clarinet in the marching band. Would that help catch a softball or set up a volley? Not likely. So at those reunions I'd do my best not to get hit in the face and as my Uncles would shout, Get out of the way!!!, I did my best to make myself small and invisible during the game.

So fast forward a few years. I had a one year old daughter. I was 10 pounds overweight and I couldn't run a mile without feeling like my lungs were going to crawl out of my throat and collapse onto the treadmill in front of a gym full of strangers. But running is a funny thing. Or maybe it was my personality: once I set a goal it MUST be accomplished. Perhaps it was a combination of both. I found running to be addicting. I would run a few times a week, each time, pushing myself a little bit farther until I could finally run a mile without stopping. Then it was two. And finally a 5k. During that time my speed improved, definitely not winning any races but faster than that initial one mile test run.

From that first 14 minute walk-run I've gone on to run more 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons. I've chiseled away at that mile time to get my fastest mile time of 7:11 and run at a happy pace of 8:45. But here's the thing about running: there is ALWAYS room for improvement. There is always more distance to be added. And because of that, I've set my sight on the San Francisco full marathon. Sometimes people ask me: why? Sometimes I ask the question of myself.

I have a hard time explaining it, the easiest response is to tell someone: Go try it, you'll see! It's something you won't regret doing. But I understand, not everyone wants to run....so I'll try to do my best to answer the why:

Because it feels good
I love running outside. During the week I run pushing the twins but my favorite time to run is my weekend long run. I usually go alone. Sometimes with Chris. I'll lace up my shoes in the early morning while all my babies are still sleeping, sip some coffee and get my music ready. When I step out and find my pace, the feel of the cool air on my face and the newness of the day makes me feel alive. strong. thankful. I run for a few hours and my mind will wander: sometimes it rests on my children, my husband, prayer, sometimes it sings along to the music or just focuses on run-breath-run-breath.

Because I can
When I'm running I can't help but smile. Yes, there are times when my brow is furrowed in concentration, times when I'm grimacing through a sprint or while trying to achieve a personal record in a 5k race, times when my kids, husband, any and everything weigh heavy on my mind. But for the most part, when I'm out there running, I'm reminded that I've been blessed with a healthy heart, lungs, muscles, and legs: the temple God gave me. And it feels so good to be moving while enjoying the beautiful world we were given.

Because it has proven to me my mind and body are stronger than I ever thought possible
There are days when my mind tries to convince me that I'm not strong enough. Not brave enough. Simply not enough to get through a run. Those runs are tough. Just as I used to wonder, people often tell me they can't imagine running for an hour, two hours, three hours and more. But here's something I've learned: If I can do it, anyone can. Remember, I couldn't run a mile without stopping. I realized once I built up a basic fitness level, it really did become mind over matter. Sometimes I'll be an hour into a run and realize I still have an hour or more to go. And that's ok. Because I know I'll get there one step at a time. I've never claimed running is easy. On the contrary, I find it to be a challenge. And I like that.

I'll be seeing you soon, San Francisco.

1 comment:

  1. I love that picture of you running. I so can't run, but you've inspired me to try it out again.