If you’ve been here before you know that this girl came to running accidentally. I’ve asked some of my favorite online runner friends to tell me why they started running and why they continue to run. Jeff encouraged me when I was unwilling to call myself a runner and he still gives me tips (busts my chops) about running. Jeff undersells himself. He is a real runner. Each week I’ll share another story. Be nice to Jeff. He’s worth his weight in hydration belts.
My dear friend Jennifer has asked for my thoughts on why I started, and why I continue running. The ‘dear friend’ part is sincere but funny, since we’ve never actually met – we’ve got a bit of that Rhoda’s doorman, Charlie’s Angels intercom, Wilson behind-the-fence thing going. Nonetheless, her wish is my command, albeit typed two fingers at a time.
So like many American youts, I played nearly all the sports (except maybe hockey). Then you get into high school and you ‘specialize’ more – football and track for me. And if there’s anything past that in college, it’s usually one very focused thing – again football for yours truly.
But then something happened. Adult life started; job, spouse, kids, house, cars, et.al. AND there was no more organized, competitive team. No more games or events or seasons to gear-up for, power through, take a break from, and then repeat next year. But that didn’t bother me so much. Being a grown-up was fun, if not busy. And you still look pretty good through your twenties and into your thirties. At least so I thought.
But then forty showed up at my doorstep. And forty wanted in. And forty liked to whisper things in my ear like; “…hey did you look at that picture of yourself from a couple years back? There’s two you. And look how fat your face looks. Or how about that one from the day at the lake? You look like your father! Wow dude, good thing you’re already married…”. Bastard forty! But forty was right. No wonder I struggled so much during those soirees in that over 30 soccer league. Forty just sat there smugly laughing “…not what you used to be man. Oh well. Too bad. So sad.”.
Huh….forty doesn’t know who he’s messin’ with. “Say forty, wait here at the house for just a bit. I’ve got something to do…What’s that?…Nothing really, I’m just going to go for a little run…Yes I’m serious…Shut the hell up!…Nobody asked you anyway.”
And run I did – for a while. But then I stopped. And forty finally officially came on-board. But I survived. Still, there was something to that running thing I kind of liked. The motion felt good – and familiar. But I needed a purpose, a goal, something to work towards – a game!.
So I signed up for a race. Tulsa Run 5k. Rock-and-roll baby! And it didn’t take long to plan my progression for the next 3 or 4 years of Tulsa Runs; finish top 10, break 20 minutes, win my age group, set age group record. I had the plan. Now I just needed to get to work. And I did.
Btw, nearly five years later, I must confess that I never exactly accomplished those goals. Heck, after two years I moved up to the 15k anyway. Then I started into the half marathons, which is for the most part where I reside now – though I’ll throw in a 5k or 15k now and then. But the thing is; I’M IN THE GAME.
Yes I’m healthier. Yes I’m happier. Yes, I ‘run to remember’ those we’ve lost. Yes, yes, yes to it all. As I even said to Jennifer recently; “…I just like myself as a runner”. Yes. But maybe I keep doing it because I just like feeling like a ‘player’ again. Lots of ways we could draw metaphors there. But whatever. It’s a feeling I like. It’s a feeling I had. And it’s a feeling I got back. Don’t think I want to lose it again.