Monday, February 13, 2012

Why I run.

Today I want to tell a portion of my running story. I may have shared pieces of it before, but it's what's running (no pun intended) through my mind today, so I want to share it. It holds a lot of parallels to my life, really. And some of you who read this have probably never heard the story of why I run and my emotions behind it. If you know it, well, you can skip this blog!
I set out on my run today and it was bitter cold. It was 21, according to the thermometer, but there was a very biting cold wind that went with that. At first when I started out, I dreaded it. But as I got going, I was actually smiling and it turned out to be a fantastic run.
 Some say that because I am slow, I can't really say I'm a runner. Some say I should be faster after all this time. some say they are proud of me and think it's great how I get up at the crack of dawn and earlier to run. some love hearing my running stories. I say I will never break any time records; I will never hold the fastest pace for my age bracket; I will never be a Kathryn Switzer or a Hal Higdon (2 famous runners) who write and sell books about running and give advice on the sport; I will never be an olympic athlete with it; I will never even have a "runners body"....but I say I don't really care. Because I am a runner. And I love it.
 I started running in 2008. My first exposure to the sport was at the Air Force Marathon. I worked for Starbucks at the time and we provided coffee for the VIP tent, which happened to be at the finish line. Coincidentally, the first aid tent was also near by, so I saw a lot of emotions cross that area. I watched overweight people cross and then cry; I watched young, fast runners break a PR; I saw old men and women cross the line, hands in the air in victory; I sat on the side and witnessed  runners throw up near me after finishing 26.2 miles. ; I saw it all....and I fell in love with it. I sat there and said "I"m going to do a half marathon in the Spring (it was September when I said this). Others were supposed to join me in this, but little by little, I was left alone in the endeavor.
Mind you, I'd never run. So to say I was going to do this, well, it was kind of crazy. The first time I went out, I couldn't even do a mile. My little brother, a Marine Drill Instructor, came home on a break and went out with me. I thought I was going to die. He was lying to me about our distance and so I actually went further than I thought...but it was worth it. He taught me a lot of tips I still carry in my running today. I still love (and hate) running with him. He laughs and says to me " I though we were going for a RUN....." because my "run" is really more like a fast jog, but he laughs and pats me on the back and pushes me every time just enough ....and is a big encourager through the whole process. ( He probably wouldn't be a brother...or a USMC...without a bit of sarcasm.)
 I fell in love with the sport. And for the first time in my life...I mean really and truly...I learned the depth of what I could do. And I learned to stop saying " I can't." running has taught me I can do anything I put my mind to. And any time I doubt that, I look back at my starting running and where I am now, and I remember I just have to put my mind to it.
 I remember mom laughing in encouragement and saying "Of all my children, I never thought you'd be the one running marathons." It was pretty funny and pretty true...I really am (or was??) the most un-athletic of us 4. I still don't think I fall into the athletic category....but I pretend to. Mom was also my biggest encourager through it all.
May came around and I ran my first race ever...a half marathon. 13.1 miles. My goal was just to finish. And I did, just under 3 hours. I don't care if that is slow-I did something I never thought I'd ever do. And it was amazing. I have some pretty silly stories from that first race. And some pretty amazing memories.I love doing it over and over and over.
 Through my runs, I have had some of the best talks with God. I have screamed at the top of my lungs at Him. I have cried when I've run, talking to God about life. I have laughed. I have spent many hours talking to Him when I run. I get to soak Him in. It's part of why I love to run. I am closer with my creator. Through His creation. But also through the quiet. And the time alone I so rarely find anymore. Running allows that. And I love it.
 Running has helped me battle my depression. Yes, I have depression. I don't talk about it in every day normal conversation. I don't even blog about it, really. But it seems appropriate in this blog. Depression is a  very real sickness. A lot of people find it a silly diagnosis, especially in Christian circles. I am telling you right now, it is very real. I was officially diagnosed in 2008....right around the time I started running. Running has helped battle it. I tried denying it; I tried not being on medication; I tried to do anything I could to say I didn't have depression. I didn't talk about it a's not often talked about in Christian circles. Some say if you have Jesus, you can't have depression. I say, I have depression and Jesus is my biggest advocate at my side helping me through it, knowing how real it is. I have learned the depth of His love and grace deeper because I battle it. Anyway, running helps it be less severe. The more I run, the better I am. It has to do with the brain, the endorphins and the connections exercise has in helping battle mental sicknesses. I also have anxiety attacks. That is yet another scary thing to put out there for anyone to read. But, running helps my anxiety levels tremendously. I know on days I don't run my anxiety level is higher. More easily triggered. When I run, it helps the anxiety a lot. If I know there is going to be a tough day ahead of me (say, a day that will trigger memories with mom or maybe something tough coming up at work...) I make it a point of it being a running day-even if it just is one mile. Running helps me tremendously to fight these things. Running literally puts a smile on my face. (As a side note, I thought I'd share that the dr. does not think I will battle this all my life....but for now, I do. and for now, God is helping me through it, as well as some really great people. And if you want to know more about my story on this, I'd be happy to share, just ask.)
 Running has helped me in my grief process. It's been as much a part of my grief process as this blog has. When I run, I sometimes cry. I sometimes laugh. I often times remember. I pray. I talk to mom. I hear her encouraging words. Running has helped me get through it just a little bit better.
  I have totally fallen in love with the sport. I have pounded the pavement now for 3 1/2 years, and with each step I run, there is usually some type of emotion behind it: be it grief, prayers, sadness, laughter, childlike giddiness, pure joy, pure exhaustion, or just determination.....I have learned a lot about myself through it. And that is a portion of my running story.
 I will never be the greatest at it, but that is ok. I have developed some lifelong friends through it and because of it and strengthened new friendships because of it: Kristin, Rob, Mike, Kathy, Min, Tiffany, to name just a few.
 Here are a few pictures to show you some of where I started to where I am today...Sorry for the length of this blog-you can see I am passionate about this activity. It's not for everyone....but then again, I never thought it would be for me either!!! It doesn't define me , nor is it the most important thing in my life. It's just something I love to do.One day at a time, I just keep enjoying it. And learning through it.
 This was my snowy view on my run today.
  This was a race I ran literally 2 weeks to the day after my mom died. I'd been signed up for months and decided to still run it because I knew she'd want me to. It was a pretty tough race for me.
  This was Akron 2011. Not my best time at all, but still a lot of fun, especially discovering a new friend , Kathy, here.

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