I began to run in the spring of 2010. I chronicled my journey from lazybones to run-girl in my book Run With Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo. I felt fairly confident in my own personal reasons for running.
Until this past Sunday, when I completed my third half marathon of this year.
I was surprised, once again by the innate complexity of something so relatively simple. The basic motion of the feet, knees, hips, torso and arms in synchronicity—something that most people can do, even for a short period, without thinking about it. Indeed, because I can is one reason why I continue to run.
After I had begun to run and uncover the stories included in my book, I ran, honestly, to write that book. I had to run the half marathon, because that was to be the final chapter as I had outlined to my publisher.So, a true reason I ran was to complete the story of my come to running testimony.
Of course, that’s not all. There was The Dog, and my health—both mental and physical. There was the community and the freedom and the way it created this unedited space for me.
I think races (an everyday runs) are like babies; each one has a different character, its own rhythm, reason and tone.
Sunday dawned, bringing eerily similar weather as the first half I ran, way back in May. Cold, potentially wet and hella windy. I met my running buddy and we giggled and stretched and talked strategy one last time. When the gun went off we bobbed and weaved with the rest of our compadres.
It seemed to take an extraordinary amount of time for me to find a rhthym. The people, the hills, and my mind all competed for my attention and my breath. It wasn’t until my running partner ran on ahead, as we had discussed, that I was able to find a groove. For a half mile or so I could see her white hat, her blond hair swishing across her shoulders. I was never more happy to see the back of her; I was thrilled that she was loping along, a smile on her face, doing her thang.
And I was happy to find myself in a crowd, just me and my music.
And I found, again, that intangible that keeps me coming back to running. Those long moments when my head is totally engaged in some thought, so involved in the internal process that I lose all sense of time, distance, body, weather, discomfort or even pleasure. I didn’t think about why I run, but about why I don’t want to give it up.
Everything fell away. Everyone fell away. People passed me. Lots of people passed me. Even a racewalker passed me. (That one stung a bit.) It was easy to feel slow and awkward being lapped by so many, but I set my eyes on the road in front of me and I willed my mind inside. The other runners disappeared. They were like the hazy mist: present but not noticeable.
After my buddy ran off, I did (minor and probably inaccurate) math in my head to determine my pace. I paid attention to the mile markers, until about mile 8. Then I set my eyes on the road and willed my mind inside.The mile markers disappeared. I knew where the finish line was; I knew I had the strength and I knew I would get there. Where I was at the moment didn’t matter.
About a half mile from the finish line, the marathoners peeled off to continue their journey to the center of the universe, and I giggled with glee a little bit, knowing that I was nearly finished. With my third half marathon in one year. That I had set out to do something and had done it. The question was not, could I do it, like it was in May. The question now was how well would I do it.
I run because of where it takes me. I get to meet new people. I get to think new thoughts. I get to see new places. I run because I like a challenge and I like to push myself to see how far I can go. I run because of that vast space that opens before me, when everything falls away and it is just me and my thoughts and the road. I run for reasons that are as fluid as I like to think my body is when I run.