and other good running jokes.
You become a runner the exact moment you decide you are one. There’s no mile threshold you have to cross, no pace you have to hit. You decide when you’re a runner. In my opinion, it’s the second your sneakers hit the pavement, and you’re happy they’re there.
I started running when I accidentally signed up for Cross Country in 2004 as a high school freshman. I swear, I didn’t really know what I was doing – but my friends were doing it, and no thirteen year old is safe from peer pressure, or as we have now come to know it — FOMO.
One season of XC turned into winter track (running around a hallway in the back of our high school), spring track, and all over again. Running cross country brought me unforgettable memories, and very forgettable race times. Running is what took me to my first (and second) trip to sleep-away camp, that gifted me with my first 10mi+ run, and about a dozen new Facebook friends.
TWELVE years later, I still am (Facebook) friends with the hot camp counselor (congrats on your two children! still looking good, John!), and somehow, still* running.
*Still is used freely, since after high school I didn’t as much as run a 5K till my senior year in college. Only about a year ago, when my best friend peer pressured me (I know, I know) to run a 5M race, that the bug bit me again.
That first race was terrible.
No I’m not even exaggerating. There was not a single stretch of more than 15 seconds when I felt mildly comfortable. I crossed that finish line, snatched my medal, found my friend, and was like — “I’m over this.”
We often refer to that race as a benchmark for pain, a code word to misery – a physical and mental feeling. But the week after that race, we were signed up for our first half marathon, 4 months in the future.
Since last June, I have ran 6 half marathons, four 10ks, five 4Milers, two 5Ks and a full marathon.
I’ve found a way to stitch running into my identity, or rather, come to light in my identity. The parts I admire most about myself have come from running.
It’s not just being able to set goals and hit them, it’s about taking care of and building the body up — including the brain, finding happiness and lightness, indulging in the best parts of the world and learning to say no.
This blog is a place where my running will run free.