It’s true. I mean, a “runner” doesn’t miss an entire week and eat Oreos instead. I know people that can run super fast and I know people who run a slower pace but run 6 days a week. Those are runners. Runners train at 5 am when it’s 30 degrees outside. I’m just a casual runner…jogger? (Jogging seems so 1989, we say running now but I feel like there should be different words for different paces to make it fair for everyone.) I train for a season and sleep in till I can’t take it anymore and I hit the pavement again.
This last summer I was visiting a friend and I had been at the “I can’t take this any more I feel like a sloth I’m going to die in a pool of over creamed coffee and chocolate chip cookies” kind of place. I told her that I needed a goal other than weight loss, that just doesn’t do it for me. So she said we should run a half marathon together. The very next day she forced my vacationing butt out the door to go on a run. I thought I might die. That week I ran a 5K with my dad…no big deal right. 3 miles. I have a time that I refuse to be over on a 5K and I made it in by the skin of my teeth. 31 minutes. I decided that the half marathon was something that needed to happen. (Ended up she got an injury and couldn’t run with me. So sad. She still owes me a race.)
I began running 3 or 4 times a week. My first “long run” was 5 miles in which I had to force my next foot to pick it self up and go in front of the other for 3 of the 5 miles. Then there was the day I completely fell down, bit the dust on a 5 mile run. I remembered a birthday party that my child had to get ready for. Her ride would be arriving in 30 minutes and I wasn’t there to get her up and ready for the day. I was trying to text my husband when the side walk burst out of it’s normal flat position and grabbed my foot. I didn’t know I was falling until I was in the air and trying to protect my phone from hitting the pavement. My face luckily hit the grass but my knee and hip and palms weren’t that lucky. I have to say though I felt a little like a bad ass running the rest of the way with blood pouring down my leg. I still have a scar.
Eventually I found a friend to run with and we were in exactly the same point in our training. Oddly enough she had fallen down the exact same day I did. So we were both bad asses. (I’m going to pretend that it doesn’t matter that the fall was my own stupid fault and just focus on the fact that I kept running. Okay? You can pretend too.)
Our runs went from 8 miles to 10 and before we knew it we were running 11 miles on a Saturday morning. Now I know to you actual runners, you’re all like, “Great, good story Bro.” But, that was A. MAZE. ING to me. I couldn’t believe I could run so far. And I felt SO good.
By race day I was so nervous. I was ready, but nervous. I had read on a running blog to “trust in your training.” So I kept telling my self that over and over. After passing the 11 mile mark I felt like I should be finished. I didn’t think I could make it the rest of the way. My family, my whole family, all four children and my sweet husband had come out to cheer me on. They piled in the car with my running buddy’s family and they made it to 4 different points on the course. They gave us high fives and/or drank coffee slightly still asleep and/or slightly uninterested. But they were there! I couldn’t walk. Walking would be losing. I had to run. So, I ran. I finished below my goal time of 2 hours 15 minutes. It was 2:13:19 and I thought I would fall down.
So that’s the story….but wait there’s more.
I may not consider myself a runner, I just don’t feel awesome enough to say that. I think the people I know who are real runners are awesome and I’m not quite there. But this is what running does for me.
When I run, I feel my heart beat strong and hard. I imagine the blood pumping through my body in vibrant colors of passion and pain, of irritation and and exhaustion of pride and exhilaration, colors of love and overwhelming stress. I feel like all my emotions that are so strong and often too much for me to handle have this opportunity to be sweated out through my pours and to pump though my body as something real and tangible. I give my self the permission to feel them.
I feel my muscles moving with vigor and strength. I am alive and healthy. God has blessed me with muscles that do what I need them to do. He has given me lungs that fill and deflate effectively and fully and a heart that beats with out failure. He has given me eyes to see his beauty, hair through which the wind can blow and the strength to carry on.
Often on my long runs I listen to praise music. We go to church on Saturday night but I meet with the Lord on Sunday morning. I pray for my family, for my friends and for myself. Miles pass in minutes and I place my needs at the Lord’s feet. I use each mile to pray for each of my children. Then, through verses of scripture past read, the lyrics of a song or later through the words of a friend, I hear those subtle whispers the Lord uses to let us know he’s heard our prayers. I meet God on the pavement and he meets me there too. I tend too stay away from over spiritualizing things in life as a general rule, but this is true, this is real.
My dad taught me to run. He would leave after work on any given day and come back home covered, absolutely drenched in sweat. It didn’t matter if it was 110 degrees or 35, he ran. He’s a big man an 6’5″ but I would run with him when I got to be a little older. His long legs would take 1 step to my 5 and it was exhausting. I never really appreciated the run, or what I had learned from him till I was much older. When my dad goes out to run, he doesn’t stop. There is no walking. He just runs till he gets back home. Don’t quit. Set a goal. It doesn’t matter if it hurts. Run.
Something happens out there, sweating, hurting. Something happens that makes me a better mom, a better wife (though a terrible housekeeper…we all have our talents. Right?)
Running is so basic. It’s just one foot then the other. Breath. Step. Breath. I can’t do anything else, during a run.
In a world full of multitasking and mobile everything, I think that is why so many people are taking up running. It’s simple and straight forward.
I may not be a runner and I sure as heck am not as amazing as the runners I know, but this is what I know.
I run because I can.