Friday, October 12, 2012

Wanna be a runner?

As part of my mass effort to improve myself, I decided to pick up my feet and start running.

I’ve described myself as a wanna-be-runner for years. In case you want to know what that is, it means as I’m driving downtown and I see people jogging, I think, “I wish I could do that,” and then turn up the AC. Over time, however, I’m chipping away at the wanna-be part.

My first 5K was two years ago. I was very proud of my time. An impossibly-thin friend I had not seen since high school saw me after the race and asked me what my time was. I proudly told her (note that I am not writing it here).

“That’s a great run for a 10K,” she said.

“Oh, that was for the 5K,” I said.

Her face said the rest.

Since that time, I’ve entered more races, and I’ve run better times. I set my PR when I was running with my best friend. She had done the couch to 5K training plan. I assumed her 5K time would be like my first 5K time. We stayed together the first two miles. By the third, she was still talking, and I knew I was in trouble.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

“Just. Can’t. Talk,” I managed to get out during breaths. “Go. Ahead. Save. Yourself.”

And off she went to the finish line. She later swears she wasn’t trying to beat me – just the guy who was speed walking ahead of us. It didn’t matter, my pride was too tired to care.
As time passed, I found some other running buddies to race with, including my teenage daughter. Now, if you’ve had a teenager, then you understand that if you find an activity that you can do together, you’d better latch onto it like a snapping turtle. And that’s just what I have done.

Next thing I knew, we were slipping out early Saturday mornings to race against our peers – and ourselves. Though the truth is there’s more cheering for one another than racing.

Runners are kind people, I’ve found. They don’t care how old you are or if you have to stop to walk or if your 5K time is mistaken for a 10K time. They know if you are out there participating, then you get it.

You get that there’s nothing to make you feel more alive than almost dying en route.

If you are a runner, then you know how nice it is to see the sun come up while you feel the crisp air fill your lungs. You know what a thrill it is to hear your quiet daughter give a war whoop as she passes you. You know how cool it is to get a new T-shirt and to have a great playlist and to feel grateful to be alive. You know what it’s like to chip away at your time, sometimes second by second. You know what it’s like to do something you’d never thought you’d be doing. It is running, and it is incredible.

It’s a sport that grows on you, and it has worked its way into me. I no longer loathe it. I look forward to it. I no longer dread the minutes on the treadmill. Instead I push myself to go faster. Somehow, step by step, I have become a runner. There, I finally said it. Doesn’t mean I’ll ever have a great time or even a good time, but I’m out there. I’m doing it. I am running, and this wanna-be finally belongs.


none said...

It's great that you finally enjoy running. It's such a great stress relief...and there are moments during some runs that just take your breath away. Enjoy every step!

Meredith Leigh Knight said...

Literally and figuratively take your breath away! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it. I agree on running. It makes me feel grateful to be alive. Looking forward to the next run.

Susan Williams said...

Anyone who can still run, when they have a daughter who is a teenager, is a champion in my book.


Caitlin said...

i LUV this, except for the wanna-be part...hehe. :) i like how u close tho in saying being a runner is more a mindset or way u feel. i'm SO glad u're getting back out there and don't worry, soon u'll be busting it up and passing people like crazy. :)

Miss Mel said...

You and my husband are in the same camp. I am a runner. I ran for a team in HS, college, and a year after that. My husband despised it when I met him. Now he is like you. He does look forward to it, but won't every feel the LOVE for it that I do. He just did his very first 10K last weekend and rocked it. I was so proud...and jealous standing on the sidelines cheering with the kids.

Next weekend I'm doing a Halloween 5K!

So glad I found your blog. I look forward to reading more. :)

Meredith Leigh Knight said...

Thanks, all! I appreciate the encouragement and kind words. @Miss Mel - I love that he is running, and it's something you can do together, and you are supporting one another. Your kids are lucky for that example.

Anonymous said...

I love this post!! I feel the same way now that you describe in the beginning of your post. I'm not quite at the loving running part.. but still want to be good at it (kinda), and still super envious of those that enjoy it ;)