January 6, 2012

The running bug

It's been a full year since I started running, and it's now safe to say that I've caught the bug. Last year, we moved to a new state, and I was lonely for my old network of friends and co-workers. When an out-of-state friend invited me to run the Country Music half with her in Nashville, I quickly answered yes. First because I am a yes person, and second because what the heck else was I doing. Well, besides raising the four kids. What I mean is what else was I doing for me? To keep me sane enough to raise those four babies. With no work and a friend shortage, starting a training plan was the perfect way to fill in my social gaps.

At first I hated every step. I've always loved exercise, yet always hated running. I only liked sprinting towards or away from things. In high school, I tried every sport (small school, you know), but the one that stuck was soccer. I continued to play until this year, when our new town didn't have a women's recreational league. Boo! Also, in our previous town I taught group x classes, but no jobs were panning out in our new town. Double boo! Do you see a theme here? I like anything with the word "group" in it. Group exercise, group sports. I was one of those annoying people who didn't consider running a sport until this year. For me, it was part of another sport.

This year, I made running my new job, and I was a team of one.

All but my Saturday runs were indoors because quadruple strollers are really awkward, and my husband takes the early morning workout shift. My gym had a track and treadmills, so at least I could switch it up between those options. Then on Saturdays I got the treat of running outdoors, and the even bigger treat of sometimes running with my brother who lives nearby.

It wasn't until my first race, a small 8k, that I started to fall in love. Part of it was the adrenaline of toeing the starting line and sprinting past (not many) people to the finish, but the other part of it was seeing all the people in the community who loved running. It was great to see volunteers come out to support that race, and I realized that although you sometimes run solo, you share in an amazing community of dedicated people. Dedicated to fitness, community, life, goals, sweat.

Slowly after that race, and through my first half (April 2011) and full (November 2011) marathons, I learned to just step back and enjoy the process. Enjoy that some training days are bad and some are amazing. Enjoy sharing a small wave with fellow runners on the sidewalks. Enjoy motivating others to take a similar journey into the uncharted territory of your physical limits. Enjoy each breath, no matter how asthmatic it may feel. Enjoy choppy running thoughts. Enjoy resting afterwards.

And I know I have the bug because I never want to stop. With each race I prepare for, I dread the day of the race because it's also the end of my training cycle, and I want to immediately sign up for a new race to motivate me to keep running. I feel afraid that without that motivation of an impending race, I'll lose the sense of urgency that made me fall for running in the first place. And I must run.