Here’s a fun thing. I knew Lee from twitter, then figured out she lives in the greatest city on earth, which you all know is of course PITTSBURGH. When I flew in to run the half marathon in May, I got to meet Lee and some other twitter runner-women at The Church Brew Works. If only I’d had three more days to talk to her. Give her some love, ya’ll. I love this story and how she found a way to make it work.
I was raised an athlete. Oh I was never a star or anything like that. I was usually one of the prime members of the second string, if you catch my drift. I was best at softball. Most of my time was spent at second base but I also had stints as the breaststroker on the swim relay team, the setter on the volleyball team, and the point guard on the basketball team, with a little tennis and racquetball thrown in for fun. I didn’t try running regularly though until I was a senior in high school and my then-boyfriend needed to start training for his Marine Corps entry exam. Our idea of quality time was him lapping me at the track in the park and I loathed every minute of those gut stitching runs.
In college I continued to nurture my hatred of running by sweating around the indoor track in the rec center after my night classes. I’d drag my tired butt back to the dorms thinking, “why do I do this to myself?” I could never run very fast or for very long and it was miserable. Eventually, I discovered group fitness so I hung up my detested running shoes and started taking step aerobics class. That and beer pong were my main athletic events for the remainder of college and graduate school.
The years that followed graduate school included a lot of things. Loves won, loves lost, loves won. A few jobs. A cross country move, another cross country move. A wedding. But no running.
Baby boy #1 arrived, then baby boy #2. Buying our first home, working full-time, working part-time, working from home, working in the office, having a husband who worked nearly 80 hours per week. With all that work, when do I work out? But baby boy #1 got bigger and baby boy #2 got bigger even faster, jobs changed, and one day I woke up and realized I had a full night’s sleep more often than not. Maybe I could get back in shape again. I missed working up a sweat and knowing my body the way you do when you can hold a Triangle* pose for longer than a few seconds.
The easiest thing to do was to start running again. What did I need, just a good pair of shoes? I could walk out my door and do my work out and walk right back in my door before my kids were even out of bed in the morning. I wouldn’t have to deal with gym fees or my babies crying in the childcare. It didn’t have to be hard. But I hate running, right? It had become my mantra. “Oh, running is such a wonderful way to get in shape, but I hate it so much, I just can’t do it.”
Everyone seemed to be becoming a runner these days what with all the new apps and iPods and GPS devices, I supposed I could give it a shot. Like a good technology consumer, I dutifully downloaded the Couch to 5K app, set up my iPod playlist and started running. I surprised myself by enjoying it for the first time in my life. Turns out, running outdoors in the early morning is much better than limping around the track at night. When your life is filled with so little silence, those minutes of solitude while running become precious gold. After only a few weeks I was running longer than I had ever run before and each time I set a new record I couldn’t believe I had done it. It made me want to keep going. My first race was a 5K, then a 10K, and then a half marathon. I finished my half marathon so strong, I was actually passing people in droves on the last mile. It felt amazing and the next morning I was already researching training schedules for a full marathon.
I run because I’m an athlete. I run because I feel strong when I do, I have better days when I do, and I am a better mother and partner when I do. I enjoy the silence, I enjoy the music, I enjoy those blissful moments when I feel like I could just run forever. I am proud after a run, I am tired after a run, a good down to your bones kind of tired that lets you know you really worked for it. I run because I want to be an active parent and I hope my boys will someday be my running partners (my oldest is well on his way). And when I run I think about what it will be like when I’m old, if I should make it that long, and I will miss being able to move my body this way. I may not be able to run then, but maybe this old athlete will still be able to manage a Warrior One.