As the wind whips through my hair and the sun beats down on the path ahead of me, I wonder how I ever STOPPED running in the first place. Aside from the sore legs and labored breathing, running has grown to become one of my happy places somehow. Me, the formerly obese girl who couldn’t run more than a few seconds. How did I grow to love running so much?
When I first started running in 2012, it took a whole lot of convincing. I promised myself I would start, then I’d make a million excuses about why I couldn’t. Then one day, I finally did it and I haven’t looked back. 2013 was a banner year for me, running wise. I spent evenings at the track and early weekend mornings along the canal path. I even trudged through the snow and the dark just to get my runs in. I set new personal records on a weekly basis, and I trained for and ran my first half-marathon in July 2013, making one of my big dreams a reality. I don’t think I have ever felt more proud or accomplished as I did in the moment I crossed that finish line. But then I decided to take a little break to let my legs recover. Soon, though, summer turned into winter and I refused to spend another winter freezing my butt off running in the snow and ice and I hate treadmill running. So my hiatus continued. I didn’t run for almost nine months!
And yet… there is nothing quite like that high you get when you beat your own best time, when you run a distance you couldn’t before, when you set a new personal record, when you cross the finish line of a race. These are some of the many reasons I run. As I sit here now with legs that are screaming in pain after 5 miles of run/walk intervals the other day, I am reminded of why this pain is a good thing. When the weather finally broke here in good old New York about three weeks ago, I was so anxious to get back out there and run. After many long months of not running though, I have to admit, it has been HARD getting back to it! I can’t believe that just nine months ago I ran a half-marathon and now I’m struggling just to get through a mile or two without stopping to walk a bit. But it’s okay. I know that soon enough, with enough time and hard work, I will be back to where I need to be. My first race of the year is a 5K that is just eight days away now! My goal was to run five races this year, so I’m anxious to get started. I’m even more anxious to don my bib and feel the exhilaration again as I stand at the start line and cross the finish line. There are few better feelings in the world than this.
So what am I doing now? I’m finding my running legs again on Sunday morning long runs with a friend who helped me immensely while training for my half. I’m finding my running legs again on short runs around the block while I recover from said Sunday morning long runs. I’m finding my running legs again when I’m sore but so damn happy because I know it means I pushed myself to become a better, stronger runner, even when it hurt and when I didn’t think I could go any further. I’m finding my running legs again because it makes me so incredibly happy to be able to do this thing that I thought I never could before; running may be a simple act, but it signifies so much more than that to me. Running is this obstacle, a great big mountain I thought I could never climb, but I climbed it somehow and I’ll keep on climbing.
I am finding my running legs again because I am so much better and stronger than I used to be, and running is what taught me that about myself.