Why do I run? Why do I do something that hurts, not only during the long run, but for a couple of days afterward as well? Why do I run when my muscles ache, my wonky ankle protests, and my left foot hurts so badly that I can't wear most of my shoes? Why do I run when I spend much of the first mile trying to not hyperventilate? Why do I run when I'm one of the slowest people in my running club, as well as in the local 5K races? What kind of fool would do this to herself?
You might be wondering what I'm getting out of all this - I admit, from the outside, it sounds pretty miserable. Heck, some days it IS miserable. But, truth be told, I like it. Getting up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning. Meeting a bunch of like-minded people at a park, before the sun has risen, and setting off together on a long run, no matter how hot and humid it is, how hard it's raining, or how cold it might be. We're runners, and this is what we do. Running toughens you up - we might complain about the weather, but we do so WHILE we're getting ready to run. I like that I don't let things like the weather, or how comfortable my bed feels when my alarm goes off, stop me. I like knowing that my running club peeps are out on the same course, working as hard as I am. I like that we all come together afterward with a sense of pride as we revel in the fact that we conquered yet another long distance.
I like that I am following a training plan in my goal to running a half marathon. I appreciate having friends who are willing to run with me during the week to help me stay on track. It's definitely been a challenge, from sweating it out during the summer runs, to doing hill workouts (something I skipped last time I trained), to completing each and every long run as the distance has increased. Our training program started in June, and I'm still going strong. Last go-round, I made it just over four months before I got injured and had to stop running. The end is in sight now...after nearly six months of training, we are just two weeks away from running the San Antonio Rock and Roll half marathon, six weeks from the end of this season of running club, and with that, our goal race of the BCS Half Marathon on December 9th - and I'm obviously feeling a little reflective about my running experience.
Even though my body hurts, I still run. I like TO run, and I like that I CAN run. I like how I feel once I get into my groove with running, and I like how I feel when I'm done. I like knowing that even though I have tons of support, both in person and online, when it comes down to it, running is all me. No one is going to tow me to the finish line, nor am I going to ride anyone's coattails - every mile that I run is because I am pushing my body to move forward in a somewhat speedy motion. I'm running, and I marvel at that fact, because I didn't used to be the kind of person who would push herself to do uncomfortable things. It's hard to explain how good you can feel while doing something that is such a physical and mental challenge, but that's the lure of running, and that's why I choose to do it.
For me, running is more than having that medal put around my neck
after I cross the finish line. It's the fact that I worked so hard to get to the start line. Over and over, I got up and ran the miles that were on the plan.
And as our Saturday long runs got longer and longer, I kept going - and
discovered the true definition of gutting it out to the end even when
my body said I was done. Running does not come easy to me, nor does it come without a lot of aches and pains. But every time that pain makes me doubt myself, I think about how hard I've been working to get to this point and how strong I'm becoming - and that's why I do this crazy thing called running.