My re-birth . . . as a runner

Anyone who has known me for more than 6 years knows I was never athletic. I danced for 12 years, but it was just once a week and was totally for fun. I wasn’t any good at it. Then I played tennis in 10th and 12th grades, with no prior experience. Again, I sucked. I didn’t exercise again until a few years later when I needed to lose some weight. My big exercise plan was to ride our stationary bike each night during an episode of “Friends”. It helped me lose some pounds, but was far from vigorous.

I had always seen people running along Harrisburg’s Riverfront path, and they always looked so happy and peaceful. I wanted that, but all of my attempts at running left me on the verge of puking and pretty upset. When things with my ex started getting, um, not-so-good, I decided to give running one last try.

I started running at my company’s fitness center on the treadmill. It took me a while to get to one full mile without stopping. Then I got to two, and then to three. All of my miles were logged on that darned motorized belt, and I knew that wasn’t what real runners did. Real runners ran outside, in the elements.

So on a beautiful sunny afternoon, I headed downtown. I started at Skuylkill and drove until I hit a mile – Harris Street. I doubled back and parked my car. I crossed Front St and stood at the Riverfront path. I stretched and stretched, trying to delay the inevitable. I finall put my feet to the pavement and started running. I passed the Jewish temple and the Governor’s mansion. I now know those places are on that route, but on that day, I didn’t notice and wouldn’t have cared. I was intent upon my goal. I finally made it to Harris St and turned around. As with all out and back routes, this one sucked. I had already been there and done that, and was about to go back there and do it again. I sucked it up and started my return. I hit Maclay St and knew I had only a half mile to go. During the final few yards, I pushed hard and completed those two monumental miles. I did it! I ran 2 miles. OUTSIDE. I RAN.

After that, I made many declarations:

“I will be happy if I can just run a 5K.”  I did, and I was.

“I don’t think I will ever run more than 5 miles because of my back. If I can do just 5, I’ll be happy.” I did, and I was.

“I need a goal. I will try to run a half-marathon.” I did need a goal, and completed the 2006 Long Branch Half Marathon. It was an amazing experience, especially considering I wasn’t feeling well that morning. Yeah….I had mono.

“I will never do a marathon; that’s just crazy!” Then I met my friend Jenn on a mission trip and started running with her on the weekends. She was training for a marathon, so I found myself doing the same. All of a sudden, I was running the 2006 Harrisburg Marathon, in atrocious weather. It was so bad that I felt I needed to give the 26.2 another shot in nicer weather before I declared myself done with that distance. I flew to San Diego the next spring and ran another. And another. And another. Now I’ve run 6 marathons.

One day I was running with my running group, The Crispy Balance. I told Coach Mike and Jeff that I made yet another declaration. “I will never run a 50-miler. Only crazy people do that.” Mike replied that he had heard that before, and didn’t believe me for a second. About 18 months later I had finished my first 50K and was lining up at the start of the JFK 50-miler. I crossed the finish line at JFK, fell into my parents’ arms, and declared, “I did it, and I totally want to do it again!”  I followed that up by saying I’d never do a 100-miler.

Since then, I have done two more 50Ks. This year holds two more 50Ks and a 100K. I was considering doing the 100-mile option over the 100K, but think I have decided against it. But just the idea that I would consider 100 miles, and be semi-confident in my ability to finish amazes me. I think I might like this running thing. Who’d have thunk?

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