Madelyn is a really great twitter buddy. She pipes in with the most incisive comments. I don’t know why I continue to be surprised by the strength, grace, and straight-up awesomeness of my friends who have contributed to this series. Madelyn’s story is no different in that respect. But of course it’s her story; and it’s a good one. Please give her some comment adoration.
I guess you could call me a grateful runner. Let me start by saying that I still have an incredibly difficult time identifying myself as a runner. I’m not naturally a runner. Its not something that comes easy to me – I definitely need to work at it. I’m not the slowest person out there, and I’m certainly not the fastest. My first ventures in running were in high school, when I played volleyball and running was part of the training regime. Many hot summer mornings I thought I would die while I was circling the high school track for what felt like an eternity. I struggled, I railed against it, and I mentally road-blocked myself every step of the way.
My battles with running continued with no improvement until college. I took a running class for one credit as part of my physical education requirements. I spent two mornings a week for an entire semester fighting a battle against running until finally it wasn’t a battle anymore. I found I actually liked running. And once I got going, I felt like I could go forever. I’ll never forget how proud I was when I ran 4 miles in 32 minutes. Then of course winter in Pennsylvania came and I found an endless amount of excuses not to run, and soon I was back to square one.
Fast forward 6 years and you’ll find the same girl, wishing she still had the youthful knees she had in college. Between competitive ballroom dancing and a habit of wearing stilettos on a daily basis, my knees were terribly abused. I would try to run and then be sidelined for weeks, recuperating angry joints. I would see people running and be filled with a hopelessness that I would never be able to run and experience that runners’ high again.
I finally sought out a physical therapist and immediately made an appointment to start my journey back to running. It took eight long months– deep tissue massages that would leave me bruised for days, lower body strengthening circuits and finally a procedure similar to acupuncture called dry needling. Eight long months of ups and downs, progress and setbacks. In April, my PT encouraged me to run a “test” 5k. I did it, and did so well that he discharged me a week later.
Then I did another 5k. And then my first half marathon, and a half marathon relay with my ever-encouraging and always positive fiancé. I recently completed my second half marathon and PRed by 11 minutes. So to answer the question, why do I run? Because I can. Because I have been granted this second opportunity and I don’t want to miss out. I run with gratitude every step of the way, even on those horrible runs we all dread. I run for the rush, for the challenge, for the runner’s high, and most of all, for the chance to say, “I did it!”