You Never Get There

In my quest for physical fitness and mental health, I’ve made many unexpected discoveries about myself. Did you know my right leg is slightly shorter, if that’s even possible, than my left? But none was more shocking than the realization in 2005 that, wait for it, I like running. This is shocking since, for years, I towed the line of an anti-runner. I hike, snowshoe, ice skate, walk, roller blade, bike and swim. I’ll play tennis or try beach volleyball or climb a rock wall. But I was adamant, truly obstinate, on the statement that I was not a runner. Asthma, short legs, and even shorter attention span; I had all kinds of excuses.

But on fateful day in a Gold’s Gym in Columbia, SC I had a change of pace. Tired of walking on the treadmill, I decided I’d take it up to a run for 60 seconds. And after that first minute I felt inspired to go one more. And another. That first day I ran 10 minutes at a decent pace before my ankles starting screaming and my breathlessness took over. And I was sweating and hot and winded and addicted. Addicted to running as the only form of exercise that has truly ever made me feel love and hate for an activity at the same time.

My running years, as I now call them, began slowly. I eased into it wisely, which is rather unlike me, because the aches and pains I felt warned me not to get too confident. Since that time I’ve gone through running phases. Phases where I run every day, phases where I run once a week. Phases where I love the treadmill, phases where I can’t stand to run inside.

I’ve learned the joy of running with partners (thanks to Alley, Jess, Sherry and Hilary for making some very long runs seem shorter) to keep me you moving. As some runners say, four feet go farther than two. When you get in the right rhythm, a run with a friend can push you to lengths you would never have reached solo. Any boredom or complacency that comes with running alone is gone when you have a friend to encourage and entertain you. And you you are thinking “I’ll be damned if I give out before that bitch does.” And you know she’s thinking it too, that sneaky little bitch. Which is why trail runs with my sister or long flat stretches in Holland with Sherry are some of the longest runs I’ve ever gone on. I love those bitches for those runs.

I’ve discovered the hypnosis that can be found in a long solo run. I have a permanent mental play list, from the slow beginnings (‘Gone Til November’ by Wyclef) to the sprinting conclusions (‘Throw It On Me’ by The Hives and Timbaland) of long runs with only yourself to blame for when you decide to quit. I’ve been inspired by the gentle, motivational words of Cassy, a devoted-wife mother-of-three lover-of-running believer-in-Beethoven who reminds me that mental clarity is a place that can sometimes only be found at the end of several miles of agony. I’ve been inspired by the more boot-camp-eque mantra of my sister Alley, a life-living costume-creating peace-making rabble-rouser, which is something to the effect of ‘There are people who don’t even have legs, and you’re complaining about running another mile!? Run, you lazy piece of crap, RUN!’ Sometimes she even ends the mantra with ‘Get moving, fatty!’
The bottom line is that no matter how much bursitis aches, no matter how cold the world seems in the morning before other people are up, no matter how much I want to turn around after the first 120 seconds, I’m hooked on running. I keep running and running, realizing the beauty is that you can run all you want, but you never get there.
Next week will be my first official foray into the world of competitive…well, competitive anything really. I’m registered and ready for the Volkslauf. Stay tuned for that debacle.

2 thoughts on “You Never Get There

  1. Don't believe that "non-competitve" line; this girl hates to lose anything! In fact, aren't those her tennis trophies we recently found while cruising the attic for chidlren's forgotten treasures that they suddenly remember & now want shipped to them?

  2. and sometime i’ll even roll up my shirt so i can watch my belly fat jiggle…that usually gets about another mile out of me

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