Once upon a time, I hated running. I thought people who said they enjoyed running were slightly deranged and masochistic.
At one point in my twenties, I started to approach running as more of a coping mechanism. Ahh, the early twenties, when everything felt impossible and wonderful and horrible, simultaneously. (I think Taylor Swift calls it “miserable and magical” and “happy/free/confused/lonely at the same time.”) In those years, I was a decent/consistent runner, but only did so to stay emotionally and spiritually sane.
In other words, I haven’t always associated running with any euphoric highs.
Last May I ran in my first half-marathon in Pasadena. It was unexpectedly exhilarating. I cried accidental happy tears at the start line. The tears surprised even me, who is known by friends to sometimes cry for sport. (Crying feels really great, people…you should try it.)
Here’s me at the finish.
Following that race, I immediately signed up for two more half-marathons in 2012.
My second half would involve a fun road-trip to the Monterey area for the Salinas Valley Half-Marathon, and I’d roped my friend Kristin Webster into running it with me. K has her Ph.D in math, so she’s pretty dang smart with pacing. Incidentally, she runs appx. 90 seconds per mile faster than me, but I managed to stick with her the first 6 miles of the race without altogether dying.
Thanks to my killer-maths-pacing-partner, Dr. Webster, I ended up beating my 1st half-marathon time by 13 minutes. Hooray, us!
It stunned me. I honestly didn’t know I could do it…especially on minimal training. (For that race, I’d only done training runs 1.5 times per week, if that.)
Since that race, the incessant metaphors keep bombarding me. You know the ones. The semi-cheesy pictures of having real-life “running” partners who challenge us to go harder and faster and, maybe, steadier.
Honestly, it takes energy to put ourselves near these types of folks in our lives, because, frankly it is sometimes painful. There will be hills and our legs will hurt. And it takes vulnerability. It takes facing the often-deafening lie we often tell our selves and others that, “Everything is fine. Really…I’m fine!” Our hearts are not usually so. Heart-work truly takes work.
I want to run fast. Faster. Harder. And especially…I want to run steady. In life, and in my next race.
I have a feeling that I might start reflecting on running and friendships on these borders. I need the practical reminders for how to run a proper tempo workout (thanks, Carrots ‘n Cake), but I also need the reminders to thank the real-life folks who’ve modeled to me what it looks like to run hard and steady in life.
I would truly like to know: who or what keeps you running hard? In life? As an athlete? As an artist?
[Kite running in the fog image by Peter Patau]