rewritten August 26, 2010
For a large part of my life, running was not on my radar. I played softball and swam competitively until high school. Softball lasted a few more years, but not many, due to a combination of burning out on a sport I didn’t love/having some really bad coaches.
Even though I didn’t like the thought of running, I flirted with the idea of being a runner often. I knew that I was meant to be a runner, I just went about it all wrong (for some reason, this seems to happen when I’m left to my own devices to figure things out).
I wanted to be a runner so much that I often would start with too much/too soon and hurt myself. Then get depressed about it and not run again for months. My running career looks more like a dieter’s history, or my own attempts to quit smoking. June 13, 2004 was the day I quit for good (retrospectively, the day before finals week was not a hot choice for that).
After a few years of the yo-yo runner’s life, I turned 21. And became permanently bloated from all the booze/greasy bar food/fast food. (fun fact: I was the DD on my actual 21st birthday. I was sick as a dog, but my 21+ friends insisted on taking me out. They all got tanked and I drove them home. I love that story!)
All of that ended when I got pregnant. I don’t recall exercising once during my pregnancy. I spent the beginning of first trimester believing that I had suddenly developed narcolepsy or mono (these were equally viable in my mind), and the rest of it, eating to make up for it. According to my OB, I only gained 33 lbs. I say it was 46 lbs. With the miracle of breastfeeding, it was all gone (and then some!) by my 6 week postpartum check up. Except my shape was all wrong. None of my clothes fit. Good bye self-esteem.
I spent a year sort of wallowing in self-pity about the state of my body. Then I started up my yo-yo running habits again. And continued them. I ran the occasional 5k, and always considered the Bog to be a long workout (2.8 mile loop).
Fast forward to Summer 2009. And it started in a really bad way. It was a series of the most traumatic emotional moments of my life (except for being first on the scene after my grandmother had a stroke on Easter Sunday, 2005). I ran in the beginning. I even learned how to run on a treadmill (they make me so totally nauseated when I have to get off) that summer. Then we had the world’s worst heat wave: 115 degrees in Western Washington is BRUTAL because nobody does humidity like the PNW. Combine that with my personal life taking two more horribly unexpected downturns, and I quit running.
I was numb from the stresses of my life. I had to withdraw into my shell just to make it through each day. Then, only a few days after the worst of it, I lost an uncle to leukemia. Less than a month after that, my grandmother passed away due to complications of her stroke.
I craved the feeling of running, but I was so deeply depressed that taking a shower was a monumental event. I drank too much. I read and reread books that I knew would make me cry (The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn). I drank way too much. I withdrew emotionally from my husband and son. Not for long because I could see it hurting both of them.
And then miraculously, I divorced my hung over self from the couch and went for a run. I started slowly, treating myself as if I’d never run before. Because in reality, I had a lot of experience training for an injury. Not training for a race. Specifically, of the incalculable and immeasurable distance of 26.2 miles. Remember, “running” in baseball is only 90 ft and in softball it’s only 60 ft. When I started running (the first time), 1 mile and 26.2 miles were equally impossible distances. So why not make running a marathon my goal?
And now I have grand plans to run 26.2 miles in 3:40 and to someday run 135 miles through Death Valley in July. I sense that once again, I’m putting my proverbial cart before my own two legs, but that’s sort of how I roll. I open my trap and words seem to come out, then I have to follow through and live up to them.
So here we go!