"The magic of a marathon isn't in the 26.2 miles on raceday; it's in the nearly 500 miles of training that happens in the months before. It's the countless feelings, frustrations, and fears I have worked through while running... You see, I wasn't supposed to be a runner. But I am. And my life is better because I chose to be one."
- Stacy Lucier
I was never supposed to be a runner. I was ALWAYS the "not athletic" one. I stubbornly walked the fun run when I was in high school just show the world how "not athletic" I was. They couldn't make me do it!!!
Then, a few years ago, I started running. It was partly to lose weight and partly because I think I was somehow starting to get wise to the fact that telling my body it didn't need exercise wasn't *actually* replacing it's need to get out and move. And you know what? I was surprised at how happy it made me. What had I been missing out on?! Had I even realized how happy I wasn't when I wasn't running? On some level I started to understand that I had been without true energy, clarity, and rainbow colored happiness! I loved it!!! I was slow and I got injured all the time - and that was ok! I liked myself for it! I was doing something I had never done before! Every run was longer, every mile was faster, every step was one step further than I had ever gone before!
Then, 9 months ago I moved.
I packed up my little mazda and moved 600 miles away from my friends, my family, and my routine. I moved away from the canyon where I used to run and the gym where I used to go to spin class. You want to know something that is not a secret? Transition is hard. Transition is heavy. I would love to say that I soared through that time on my running shoes like a bird coasting above the storm and that I ran my troubles away, but I didn't. I ate oreos. The difficulty made my feet weigh a thousand pounds and all I wanted to do was stay in my bed and not have to face finding safe running routes and working new shoes into my post-grad pathetic budget. Was it really even worth it?
While lounging in bed and looking at my phone, Instagram showed me pictures of happy, fit women who were running double digit-miles every morning and had perfectly sculpted abs, dream jobs, adorable children, and for whom the sun smiled when it awoke every morning. They kept posting things like, "It doesn't matter how fast or far you go, if you run, you are a runner." Really? I mean, I actually have a lot of love for those women and have found many of them to be a source of inspiration to me, but as I looked at their negative splits and amazing quads, I wondered if they really thought I was in the same camp or even country as them. Maybe I wasn't a runner after all. I was never going be that. I was back to square one.
Even if I did want to return to running, it would mean conquering basic runs again. It would mean hauling my significantly larger butt out the door and slogging through incredibly slow miles with more than a couple of walk breaks (which would surely be disguised as returning text messages midrun, needing to retie my shoes, or take a photo of the awesome sunset that I just had to post on instagram). How had I gotten this far from last year? I ran my first half marathon last year - and then I ran 3 more! How could I start again when every run would remind me how much I had regressed?
Honestly? I don't know.
The only answer I have is that I know that I can do it. Because I already did. I know that, while I feel behind, I am certainly stronger than when I first started. Falling behind doesn't negate everything I have done before! Maybe my legs or my lungs aren't as strong as they were 9 months ago, but they remember. There is still so much residual goodness! I know what it is like to be strong. I know how good it feels to get up early and feel that rush of endorphins that will carry me through the day. Why do I fight that? I fight it because it isn't easy for me. It's hard! I have to haul all 5 feet 10 inches and 9 months of oreos around with me! I have to get up early, change my clothes, wash my clothes - A LOT! cause I sweat A LOT!, I have to wear a sports bra! WHA?! I am not fast! I am not fit! I am not a runner! I wasn't supposed to be a runner! I was supposed to be able to skate through life not caring about all of this stuff! But here I am! I can't fight it. At the end of the day, fast or slow, short or far...running makes me happy. And it turns out that I am worth the work.
So I am resigned. Running, I love you against my better judgement!
I am a runner. And I love it. I guess I'll see you out on the road.