run through it

i started running for a number of reasons.

i was lonely in boston, living alone and working 12 hour days. i was tired of coming home and just being by myself.

i needed volunteer hours because i was in americorps. i learned that running a race for charity, though not the training, counted toward my hours.

i needed to work out. 'nuff said.

there was also something about running...my family is filled with old track team members. they all ran the shorter distances. in middle school, i did too. and then in high school my body changed, my knees began to hurt, and i became slow. really slow for someone who wanted to run the 100m.

but there was this other side to running i had never fully understood: distance running. i barely wanted to run more than a mile before college but in college i attempted to pick up a running habit. at a summer program before my junior year, i ran a mile almost every morning. it was out of character for me, but i did it. and i realized i may have some endurance if i actually worked at it...

and so five and a half years ago i began to run, using couch-to-5k as my guide. all i wanted was to get up to a 5k. to be able to run without stopping.

and i did.

and then i moved to philly and decided to do a 10k. and i accidentally joined a runner's group and trained for a 10miler and then my first half marathon.

suddenly i was a runner. someone who got up at 7am to run 8mi. someone who began to think that 6mi runs were more fun than 3mi runs.

no one is/was more surprised by this than me.

i often wonder why i continue running even though the circumstances have changed. this is what i was thinking saturday morning as i ran in the rock 'n' roll brooklyn half marathon, my fifth half marathon.

and i realized, or remembered because i feel like i remember this every few years, that another reason i started running was to feel stronger.

in boston, five and a half years ago, i felt weak for a number of reasons. physically weak. emotionally weak. i needed proof that i was strong, that i was able to take care of myself, that i could push myself further. that i didn't need anyone, not for most things anyway. that i could carry myself through.

and as i ran on saturday, i realized how that is still true.

in truth, i had no business running this half marathon. the longest run i had done before the run was 7mi. i had only run twice in the last three weeks...and they were 3mi runs each time. and so i wasn't going to do it.

but after the last month i needed something. i needed to do something that was just for me, that was just me taking care of me, that was just me pushing me. i needed to feel strong and capable. i needed to know that i could bring myself to the finish line. i needed to know that my body, my mind could carry me.

and so i lined up at the start line and hoped that what i knew of my body and my mind was true: that they could and would take me 13.1mi.

and they did. and once again i was in awe of my body. (and now i'm hella sore...)

and i am still slow. i'm slow as balls. i've been getting steadily slower (lack of training will do that) and now i actually don't try to run the whole thing. i do intervals (running like 4 minutes and then walking a minute) because i have kinda bad knees and kinda bad hips and i am already tempting fate by running as it is. i'm not trying to mess them up more than they need to be.

and i know there are marathoners and ultramarathoners and i am in awe of their bodies too. what they do is amazing and to them 13.1mi is nothing...

but i know that, for me, 13.1mi is that distance that tests me. it is that distance that shows me my weaknesses and my strengths. it is the distance that proves to me again and again how strong my body, my mind, I really am.

i may not run the two other half marathons i am signed up for this fall. and that's okay. i did the one that came on a day i really needed the reminder that i am strong enough mentally, physically, and emotionally to get through the tough moments and get to the finish line...

...and collect my damn medal...

p.s. i may just run because i like medals.