I have never been a distance runner. I distinctly remember not making the basketball team in junior high, because my coach didn’t think I could be a team player, and realizing quite clearly how that completely would impact my junior high and high school career. And it did, aside from the social stuff, because it basically steered me away from getting involved with athletics. Which meant I got my “athletic” education from that point on in the general athletics class, which meant putting on mesh shorts and an over-sized T-shirt every morning and going for a run through the local neighborhoods. Without water or music, painfully aware of how unattractive this outfit was, how greasy I would be afterwards since we weren’t left with much time to shower. Athletics was one of several things that left me with a desperately low self esteem, a painfully clear understanding of the difference between me and the cute, sporty, pretty girls. Ugh. Running seemed to embody everything I hated about myself.
Fast-forward to college. I loved to just meander around the city and would go walking for hours at a time. Over time, the walking turned to running, because I’d be listening to great music and felt like running, so why not? There wasn’t any point to the running, I didn’t really push myself to reach any distance or time goals. And despite how obsessed I was with weight and exercise the first few years of college, running somehow didn’t get roped into that. Going for a run was completely separate from going to the gym and biking or elliptical-ling for hours on end. Despite that it was exercise, and despite that I wound up purchasing all sorts of cold-weather running gear, it started off and largely remained a more thoughtful activity than really as a work out. When I’d go home to Texas, I’d still go running, sometimes so I could guilt-free eat that donut, but also just because I had an excess of energy and a desire to be outside.
Maybe I’m misremembering a bit. Maybe it was more weight-targeted than I give it credit for being. Because I do remember focusing on running even more that time my dad suggested I get a gym membership because college was making me fat (not his exact words, of course, but clearly what he was implying), and being happy to tell him I’d call him ‘after my run’. Maybe the fact that I actually enjoyed running a great deal saved it from the bad memories of weight obsession that I link with a lot of activities of that time period.
When I started dating Frank, running wasn’t as much of a focus anymore. I’d go through periods of time where, for a few weeks or months, I’d start running again, but then other activities would rear up and it’d fall by the wayside. Being with Frank has by and large made me a much more social creature, which relegates long solo thinking excursions less relevant. I also did a lot of my writing planning and thinking while I ran, and since I don’t write as much anymore… well, you get it.
So I’m not sure what combination of restlessness, excitement that the weather is getting better, frustration that my winter weight is pretty high, and desire to get back into working out did it, but when Christine mentioned she’s going to Vegas in November to run a half-marathon as a belated birthday celebration, I joined. I signed up! I’ve already paid my race fee, and now just need to find cheap flights.
I think there’s an element of missing new experiences. The past year I was so focused on wedding and honeymoon, that my constant drive to learn new skills and set new personal goals sort of fell by the way side. And, for sure, I am frustrated with my current weight, though not from a self-conscious point but more because I am above the weight now at which my body functions the healthiest (and ok, sure, a bit of the self-consciousness as we go into shorts and tank top season).
But a great deal of it is because when she first mentioned it I scoffed and thought, “Haha, I couldn’t do that. I can’t run a half-marathon.” And that is what I will never accept of myself. It’s been a driving motivation of so, so many things in my life. It’s why I went to school in Boston, why I’m here, why I’ve traveled so much, why I’ve done so many of the quirky things. Because the world is full of people who will tell you all the things you can’t do, and it doesn’t matter until you start telling yourself the same bullshit.
So I signed up. And last Saturday went for my first run -1 mile straight of running, after which I thought I might die, but was able to pull it together and combo run/walk the next two miles. Sunday I ran again, and it was a bit easier. Tuesday, when I ran in the rain on my birthday, was a bit easier still.
I start my official training on Tuesday, through RunKeeper. I’ve broken in my beautiful orange Nike Free Run shoes I bought myself for my birthday by running several times in the past week already. I’ve got two weeks of stats tracked with my FitBit. And at some point in the new few months, I’m going to be able to run for miles at a time, something I never thought I’d be able to do.