Running, like the theme of some really cheesy country songs, is my strongest M.O.
I can run away from something, no problem, forget it happened, move on, pack up a few belongings, and GO.
But this isn’t what I’m talking about today, and that M.O. of my past is no longer available to me. I’m in my forever marriage, I have three kids, two dogs, a MORTGAGE (never did I plan to have one of those God forsaken things), and a career, among other things.
So now, the only way I can run is to actually run: tie on my outrageously expensive trail shoes, braid my hair out of my face, put on the workout “outfit” I used to dread, and put one foot in front of the other.
Running has been a huge theme in the last few years for me. Outrunning my problems, I thought, was preferable to going on a run. And when my husband became an ultra-fan of ultra running, we had some problems. I couldn’t understand any of it. Why torture yourself? Why make something longer than a marathon your goal? Why risk injury, burnout, hours away from home, getting a tick for crying out loud. Why???
I’ve shared before about watching Israel run his first ultra – a 50K at Afton. I had to see it to believe it, and seeing it once was all I needed. The trail running community is kind, supportive, encouraging and overall fantastic. I saw what Israel saw, finally.
I initially thought that running meant trying to leave. Like the metaphorical running that was always my “out,” I thought that running in actuality meant the same thing. Israel got super into running long distance right around the time of my RP diagnosis. So I wrongfully assumed he was running away from me. I was now a burden, and someday he’d have to take care of me. Who wouldn’t run? That’s all I could think each and every time he laced up his shoes and ran.
Fast forward a few years, and suddenly I am running a 25K. Can’t quite tell you how that happened, except that my husband is kind of an infectious enthusiast. I wanted to feel what he was apparently feeling. Last year, though the race was cancelled due to Covid, we went out and I ran a 25K. This year, I did the same thing and the race was ON. I had a number, a start time… the whole deal.
And you guys, I DID IT! I am not above saying that damn, I am proud of myself. A 25K is a big deal for me. Like huge. Like I never thought I could do it, and I never thought I’d kinda sorta enjoy it.
But I did. I more than enjoyed it. I liked being alone (something new for me), I liked sitting in my own thoughts (another new thing for me), I liked pushing my body (I’ve been referred to as a sea cucumber before so draw your own conclusions) … so this was something life changing.
And you know what? The biggest life changer of all?
I learned that running doesn’t always mean running away from something. Indeed, running can mean running toward something. And that makes all the difference.
I can run toward pain, and it can lead to something beautiful. I can run alone, and survive it. I can run toward a goal I have in mind and be okay if the “getting there” wasn’t pretty. I can run toward a lot of things – a brand new concept for little old me.
I’m not some fantastic runner, either. Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not competitive, which is a plus, because if I were, I doubt I’d stick with this sport. I was ONLY passed by other runners (meaning, I didn’t pass anyone, not a single person), I run like an elephant and haven’t quite figured out how to be light on my feet, I go slower down the hills than I do up them (which is, from what I understand, not how it usually goes), and my knees felt like giant painful grapefruits when I was done. Yet, I was still so so so so so joyful.
Bonus*** My stepdaughter ran it, too. Someday, I’ll let her share the story however she wants to. What I will say, is that she blazed on ahead of me, into the distance, and was hardly even tired afterwards. Amazing!
I guess I’ll keep running. Toward what……… I’m not actually sure. But I know it’s good.
Lou (who still prefers to take baths, but running is okay, too)