I find it difficult to explain to a non-runner what the appeal of running is all about. There are a lot of questions that fly my way in regards to the topic of long distance running.
You do this for FUN?
What time did you say you went out for your run? ...On a Saturday MORNING?
The temperature was how many degrees below zero and you’re telling me it wasn’t that bad?
I’m sorry….you said you RAN 8 miles? I don’t even like driving my car 8 miles.
Why? Why would you do that to yourself?
I could go on. But I am going to be completely, 100% honest. Running is what has gotten me through many hard times in life.
It’s a healthy addiction that just keeps providing me with more life lessons than I could have possibly imagined.
So last fall when my friend Lindsey Brockway asked me if I would be interested in running with her a few days a week to get back into shape, I happily obliged.
I was just coming off a fractured leg. It was an unfortunate incident that involved me falling after I came down on a walnut shell while running (I know, I know...it doesn’t help my argument much, but stick with me). And Lindsey had just been cleared by her doctor to start running again after beating breast cancer. So we were both at square one (though without a doubt she already had Superwoman status after kicking the crap out of cancer).
We were two women who not only wanted to run, but needed the sport of running to help us find our health again.
Our pace was slow those first few times back out. In fact, I was wincing in pain as I’m not sure I gave my ankle quite enough time to heal. But running next to me was someone who had undergone two surgeries and rid her body of cancer. Ain’t no way I was going to ask for a break with a sore ankle.
A few weeks in we decided that we needed a goal race. Something to give us to look forward to and to shape our training pattern. We checked out local races and decided on the Frostbite 5/10K in Fremont. It was close, we were choosing the 5K, and if one of us got injured or just wasn’t ready, then the entry fee wasn’t so crazy that we would be out too much money (pride was another story altogether).
Each day that passed we would share our running successes with each other, even if we weren’t physically running together. I felt encouraged and lifted up. And I knew that I had a partner in the process.
Because while running is appealing in more ways than I can count, I can’t say it is easy. Which is also another appeal. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be as valuable in so many aspects.
Mid-January we were running in sub zero temperatures. We had face masks, three layers, hats, and even ordered the warmest running gloves we could find. Our fingers needed to stay on our bodies rather than succumbing to frostbite.
Onward we trudged, YakTrax and all.
The end of January we enjoyed spring-like days. And laughed knowing they wouldn’t last through until race day on the first Saturday in February. But we were laughing while running! As in, this was enjoyable and we were able to converse (a little) while running! Our bodies were picking up the pace.
Today was race day.
We had a goal.
Of course it was near zero (though above zero, and for that we were thankful). It was snowing sideways. I guess no one signs up for a race entitled Frostbite 5K actually thinking it will be warm.
The crowd was full of friendly faces with community members from Fremont, Newaygo, White Cloud and surrounding areas, too.
The starting gun went off and I had a smile on my face the whole time. Ok, fine, the one big hill may have erased it for the time it took to haul myself up to the top. But I was still smiling on the inside even then. We were running. In a race that we trained for weeks to run. My body felt strong and capable and my mind was content.
We crossed the finish line under our goal time. And through erratic breaths, we both smiled.
Life has a funny way of throwing obstacles at us. Sometimes the obstacles are as small as walnut shells or cancer cells.
Today we proved to ourselves that the obstacles didn’t win.
And yes, next week when we are out running at 8 am on a Saturday morning in the sub-zero temperatures for miles, my answer to the questions of those who aren’t quite sure about the sport of running will be “I do this because I love it.”
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