Monthly Archives: May 2010

Running Evolution

Running, for me, has been an evolution.  As I have grown and changed, my running has adapted, evolving with each phase of my life.

I started running seventeen years ago because, frankly, I had gotten fat.  Looking back, it is embarrassing to think about that time of my life.  Though I started gaining weight in college, I gained the majority of it the year after graduation.  It was a combination of being lazy, working in a job I didn’t like and spending a good portion of each day eating.

The week after I was married, I went to the doctor, stepped on the scale and got the surprise of my life.  I was officially fat.  Until that moment, I had been in denial – simply ignoring my ever expanding waist.  That evening, I decided I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  I decided to start running.  Because I was so young, the weight came off as quickly as it had gone on.  Within a couple of months, I was thin and well on my way to being fit.

After losing the weight, I continued to run.  As a new runner I had started to read everything I could get my hands on about the sport.  I came to realize that the health benefits alone were enough of a reason to continue running.  So the evolution continued and I ran, as they say, away from the reaper.  I ran away from heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes and so many other diseases caused by obesity.

As life continued both on the roads with my running and in our lives at home, the babies started coming, the work started piling up and the stress of real life started seeping into our lives.  My running once again evolved.  I started running after work before heading home to my children as a way to leave the stress behind me.  I found myself using my daily run as a sort of therapy.  I started thinking of it as something that benefited not just me but everyone around me.  After all, I am a lot easier to get along with after I run.

Though I continue to run for fitness and mental health, my purpose for running has continued to develop.  Fifteen years ago I joined a local running club and starting running their race series.  I started running for competition – sometimes to compete with others but most often to compete with myself.  Since that time, I have run trail runs and road races.  I have run everything from 5ks to 50 milers.  I have competed in marathons all over the United States and have even traveled out of the country for races.  I love to have a goal – to know there is a race coming up and to aim for my best time in that race.

Until recently the competitive phase of my running was my favorite.  But after turning forty last year, I have decided I quite enjoy the fact that running makes me feel young.  It allows me to do things other forty year olds might not get the chance to do.  I hope that it helps me to look a little younger than the next forty year old but beyond that I have come to realize that running lets me have the kind of fun most people my age have simply outgrown.

I go to our local park and run through the woods.  If the path is muddy I don’t avoid it, I trudge right in and come out the other end covered in mud.  On a rainy morning, a non-runner looks out the window and does one of two things, grumbles about the bad weather or thanks God for the water for their lawn.  I look at the rain and rush as quickly as possible for my shoes.  A chance to run in the rain, to splash through the puddles, to get soaked from head to toe is something that is just too good to resist.  These mornings are just one more bit of proof that running is fun.

Life goes on and things change in our lives over the years, but even with the evolution my running has taken, the benefits have stayed constant.  The pure joy it offers is always there.  The health and fitness I have gained are still there.  The feel of my legs floating over the surfaces, be it asphalt or packed trails, is still as great today as it was seventeen years ago.  My running has evolved, but in so many ways it is the one constant I know I can always count on.

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I’ve Been Promoted

Jack Bauer, Kate Austen and Ann Brennan – what do we all have in common?  According to my sixteen year old son, we are all bad-asses.  I am aware that Jack Bauer and Kate Austen are usually busy kicking ass and taking names and that I am not quite on that level, but apparently 40 year old moms are not held to the same standard as television heroes.  For a while I was teetering on the scales of badass but those scales where tipped in my favor after this morning’s 35 mile ride in the pouring rain.  That’s all it took to make my 16 year old son think I was one cool chick.  Okay, not his words but I know that is what he meant.

And to think, I almost didn’t go out there this morning.  I woke up at six and it was still dark outside.  The rain and wind were pounding the house and I decided, before my feet hit the floor, that I would not be stepping out that front door.  As though to reinforce my decision the window thermometer read 50 degrees.  So, the new plan?  Take the youngest to preschool and come back home and sit on the couch with my coffee and my latest Kindle purchase.  A nice relaxing morning at home sounded just about right.  At least, it sounded right until that little voice in my head said, “You are going to be stopped by a little rain?  And you think you are going to qualify for Boston this way?”  The voice won.

I dressed the littlest one for school, covered myself from head to toe in my best waterproof biking gear and loaded my bike on the back of the car.  As I did this, I sent up a small prayer of thanks that the rain seemed to be slowing down.  By the time I was walking my youngest into school it was hardly raining at all.  Maybe I was being rewarded for my decision to persevere.

And then again, maybe not.  The minute I pedaled away from the school the skies opened up and for the next two hours I was pummeled by the rain and wind.  I was forced through puddles up to my feet on the pedals, and I was splashed by every car on the road.  For the next two hours I went from praying that the rain might ease a little, to begging God to let the rain ease just a tiny bit, to raising my fists to the heavens and asking “Why, why, for Heaven’s sakes why?”

In the end, the rain did ease and I did complete my two and half hours on the bike.  As I stood beside the preschool wringing out my gloves, I raised by fists once again, this time in triumph.  I had not been deterred by the rain, wind and cold.  I had not turned back when the puddles became lakes.  I had persevered.  It wasn’t easy but I realized while I was out there, that I didn’t sign up for this marathon training because I was looking for easy.  I signed up because I wanted to push myself.

I didn’t set out today to become a bad-ass.  But apparently that doesn’t matter to a sixteen year old boy.  What impressed him was the stream of water that continued to flow off of me even after I had finished, my pruny, purple feet that had been marinating in my biking shoes and  the buckets of water I poured out of those shoes at the end.  What mattered to him and what really tipped those scales in my favor is the fact that I was out there in the rain and wind and cold pushing myself while most mom’s were home having their morning coffee. I hadn’t taken the easy path.  Next time I wake up to the sound of rain and wind, I will probably still pause before heading out the door but, for fear of losing my “Badass Status,” I know I will do it all over again.

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