Home > Family, Health, Personal > I could run!

I could run!

I only started running because I didn’t want to waste time getting to the gym.

I hated it at first, but kept going because I liked how it made me feel afterward. My 20-minute runs gradually crept up to 60 and 90 minutes.

A couple weeks before the 2004 L.A. marathon, one of my roommates said after one of my longer runs, “You’re running so much, you should run the L.A. marathon.”

I mulled it over for a few seconds before saying, “Okay. If I can run three hours tomorrow, I’ll run the marathon.”

I texted her from the ocean many miles from our apartment the next day, letting her know (a) I was texting midstride and (b) the run wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought. I’d likely be running the marathon.

“You ran to the ocean?!” she texted back.

I did up running the marathon. Good thing, too, because the picture of my final moments of the run has been my inspiration for doing many things I thought I couldn’t do. I spent the last ten miles wishing I’d pass out so I could stop running; the picture only turned out looking victorious because a stranger shouted encouragement when I reached the last block.

Summited K2! Oh, wait.

L.A. finish

I crumpled in a parking lot and wept when I finished that run. 4:27. I didn’t really think I could do it, but I had.

Running had already become something to me–something more than saving time getting to and from the gym–but it became something more as I inched my way up city bus steps shortly after finishing my run.

It was my power.

I ran the Eugene marathon a couple of years later. I hadn’t been running as much as I intended, but managed a 4:12 finish anyway.

The pictures my sister’s physical therapist took weren’t as glorious as my L.A. finish one, but I was glad for them. They were a great reminder that the awesome concluding moment of any hard task is preceded by a lot of really awkward moments. That’s running, for most people. That’s life, for everyone.



I ran a half-marathon shortly after my mom died. I was heavier than I’d ever been due to a combination of recent motherhood and stress eating.

But I ran. I ran, with my sisters and brothers-in-law, even shedding my Vibrams–which felt terrible in the rain–to run the last ten miles barefoot. I was spurred on by my just-younger sister, who had a rough time the last couple of miles but gritted her teeth and kept going because she remembered how our mom endured through enormous pain. Rache ran her first marathon soon thereafter.

Something that started out as a chore became a lifeline.

Always and forever

Always and forever

A runner can keep running during her pregnancy.

Unfortunately, I stopped running a month or two before my recent pregnancy due to a heel injury. I couldn’t run during pregnancy without risk. So I sat on the sidelines and tried to prepare for the better part of a year without my favorite medicine.

Sitting out wasn’t so bad the first few months. By the end of my pregnancy, though, I’d see someone running and have to fight a visceral urge to pull my car over and join them. Just for a minute! It wasn’t like I could run anything more. Yet.

I resisted the urge, but, oh, how I wanted to run. The urge was powerful. Primal.

Yesterday I drove to my postnatal appointment praying I’d be okayed to run again.

The moment my doctor said I was OK to run, I wanted to run right out the door in my dress, buy a pair of cheap sneakers from the strip mall across the street, and run. In my dress, at a very, very slow pace, but still. Still!

She told me I still have some restrictions but, looking at my face, correctly determined I didn’t much care about those since I could run.

I could run.

I drove the hour back home imagining the glorious six minutes I’d run that very day.

I nursed my son, laced up my Vibrams, and ran soon after returning home.

Thanks to endless sessions bouncing the baby to sleep the last few weeks, my joints weren’t as loose as they might have been.

I hoped for six minutes. I aimed for ten minutes. I ran twenty-one.

It’s no marathon, but it’s a start. Every minute felt like a victory, so that when I got home, I couldn’t help but smile.

21 minutes. Heck, yeah!

21 minutes. Heck, yeah!

So many people have told me they couldn’t run a marathon, a statement that perplexes me. Maybe not right at this exact moment. Maybe not without a little training.

But even starting with only one minute, or six, is a start. The shortness of those starting runs isn’t a sign of failure.

It’s a reminder that, with a little patience, the best is very likely yet to come.

  1. May 7, 2014 at 4:53 am

    I love swimming. Love how when the pool opens again for the summer I can swim lap after lap after lap. First 20 laps and on occasional days I go for 72 or more. I love the ripple that shapes my arms and how my thighs firm up.
    “So many people have told me they couldn’t run a marathon, a statement that perplexes me.” I feel the same way when people say “I can’t swim that far.” Truly swimming is like walking, I could go on and on but stop at a particular point because it’s the end of my “walk.”

    So good to see you “up and running” on many levels. You are pressing on. You had me here “I hated it at first, but kept going because I liked how it made me feel afterward.” from the very beginning of this post.

    • May 14, 2014 at 8:52 am

      We have a pool none too far from here, and I’d like to give swimming a shot. I love running, but I’d also like to do something a little lower impact for my future self.

      I’ve run three more times since I posted this. It’s been uncommonly hot here, so there’s no chance yet of my trying to push 30 minutes, but 25 minutes feels great. Just great. It’s amazing how much of a difference this one simple thing makes on . . . everything. I love it.

  2. May 7, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Awesome …. 21 minutes of heaven … the best is yet to come for you … wishing you the absolute best !!!!!

    • May 14, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Many thanks, Dave! I got up to 2.5 miles on my weekend run. It’s no marathon, but it’s a great start. 😀

  3. Charlie
    May 7, 2014 at 5:18 am

    For the first 35 years of my life, my only motto was “I only run when chased.” I surprised myself after my son was born when I started “running”. It started from short jaunts, to longer jaunts, to races. I’m right there with you about all of the running! While I don’t know if I could ever do a marathon, it’s definitely an inspiration! Kudos!

    • May 14, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Isn’t it awesome to almost surprise yourself like that? When I started my running journey, I only ever intended to run 20-25 minutes. It was surprising to realize some months later that running had turn into something totally different . . . so different I was able to run a marathon! It came about so slowly I didn’t really see it happening, only that it had happened.

      Speaking of short jaunts, Li’l D has actually been asking for the last several weeks, “Can you run yet?” He’s excited to run with me. I’m thinking of starting him out with short jaunts/intervals, and seeing what happens. He loves to run, so I’m excited to think of having a running buddy going the distance with me.

      • Charlie
        May 14, 2014 at 9:22 am

        At every race, the girls get super excited and always say that they want to do a race with me (I only do 5k’s for now) but when we actually do go out, they poop out after 50 yards! I need to figure out how to build up their distance. I guess it’s no different than when I had to build up mine! I do see parents/kids running races together and I think it’s so awesome! Some day. 🙂

  4. May 7, 2014 at 5:32 am

    Thanks for linking me! I’ve become sort of an exercise-aholic (but in a good way) over these past 6 months. Though I can’t run long distances (yet), I certainly understand the wonderful rush of endorphins that comes along with any sustained exercise.
    I could totally picture you bursting out of your doc’s office into a run! I think 21 minutes is very impressive so soon after giving birth! And you’re so very right ” with a little patience, the best is very likely yet to come.” 🙂 This post has started my day with a smile as I head to the gym here very soon!

    • May 14, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Thanks for inspiring me! I wasn’t able to run right after reading your “yet” post, but I kept it close to heart as my “I can’t run . . . yet” dwindled. ♥

      • May 14, 2014 at 9:04 am

        🙂 Always happy to inspire! I’m now beginning to be able to run. Something I haven’t done in many years. I can do almost two laps on the track, which may not sound like much, but it seems like a marathon to me! 🙂

        Keep going! You’ll be doing miles in no time! ❤

  5. May 7, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Aw good for you! I need to find something like that to keep me going.
    And that one pic of you looks totally epic. love it!

    • May 14, 2014 at 9:02 am

      I don’t know if this works for everyone, but I found a couple of songs that inspired me. As my runs lengthened, I’d save Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” for the last run, and then play the Superman theme song after I’d finished. Sometimes the thought of that music reward helped me push through. In fact, my husband suggested bringing these songs to the hospital for L&D, but that seemed like it might be a little too much noise. 😀

      I love that L.A. marathon picture. When I’m feeling down and don’t think I can do something, I look at that picture and am rejuvenated. There’s nothing like doing something you didn’t think you could do to drown out I-can’t self talk!

  6. May 7, 2014 at 6:11 am

    This is an inspiring post. I think I might like to run a marathon one day. The Pittsburgh marathon was this past weekend, and it seemed like pretty much the whole city was running! So glad you’re okay to run again. I’ve started running once a week again post-pregnancy, a year later. It’s a start.

    • May 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

      It’s a fantastic start!

      I know running a marathon won’t be for everyone, but there is little like crossing that finish line and knowing so much more is possible than you maybe believed was possible before.

  7. May 7, 2014 at 7:15 am

    beautiful! Running is so powerful, and so primal, as you put it. I ran my first marathon after I had my first child – and it did change me – looking forward to starting to train again after I have my second in a month or so.

    • May 14, 2014 at 9:05 am

      I loved your post on running as well! As I read that, I hoped (as I continue to now) that you’ll be writing more about running.

      Congrats on HuffPo, by the way! That’s an article I hope many, many read, and which I anticipate passing along to some individuals myself.

  8. May 7, 2014 at 7:56 am

    I am so excited for you! 6 min, 21 or 21 miles – woo hoo!!!
    I know the therapy (and much needed calorie-eating exercise) that running provides for me (and I know you do relate) truly enlivens even my most tired day! I love the history of your running, your marathon and all.

    • May 14, 2014 at 9:07 am

      A couple days after posting this, I asked A, “Should I run or nap?” After a short discussion, we agreed that running would tire me out in one way but leave me much more invigorated in others. So I ran, and it was absolutely the right choice. It feels so good to be back.

  9. May 7, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Yay! What a beautiful story and I’m so glad that you got to run!

    • May 14, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Thanks! I think it’ll be a little while before I get past a few miles, but I’m just going to savor each step in the meantime . . . or try to, anyway. Some feel better than others. 😉

  10. May 7, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Wow! Good for you! 21 minutes is impressive, but what I really want to say is good job for taking care of yourself and doing something that makes you feel great!

    • May 30, 2014 at 11:45 am

      I’m glad it’s taken me a few weeks to get back to commenting, because it emphasizes just how much the running lifts me up. I’ve run 2-3 times a week since, and each run has left me a little more energized. There are still some rough nights with days hard to get through, but the days are physically–not emotionally–difficult. It feels so good.

  11. May 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Your heart will thank you, your child will thank you, your Dr. will thank you!
    My mom has been a life long exerciser. Hiking, running, and now (83) walking, she says she does it because it makes her feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. A few years ago when my Dad passed away, her afternoon walks gave her a spiritual strength as she prayed and remembered the goodness of the almost 60 years they shared.
    My mom would tell you to keep it up! She never ‘preaches’ to me, but her example reminds me that over the years those minutes will add up to make a healthier happier old gal.
    My ancient Nordic Track ski-machine still gives me a good workout without the stress on my partially torn meniscus 😀
    But I miss the group endeavor of a marathon and the cool # you get when you enter.

    • May 30, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Running is truly my favorite medicine. Going without it while pregnant and for the weeks following was difficult, but helped me appreciate the boost all the more when I got it back.

      I hope to be like your mom one day. 🙂

  12. May 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    How wonderful, how powerful, how inspiring.
    Running is, I think, beyond me. So I walk. Not well, and with a limp and a wobble, but I do it. And will walk some more.

    • May 30, 2014 at 11:48 am

      I love this. It may not be fast, it may not be ideal according to an athlete’s assessment, but movement is a gift regardless!

  13. May 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Good for you!!! I used to be a triathlete and a runner but injured my back. I still exercise but miss the euphoria of running for hours. Congratulations!

    • May 30, 2014 at 11:50 am

      I’ve considered participating in a triathlon, but I’m a little daunted by the fact I’ve never swam much. I suspect there’s one in me somewhere down the road, but for now, I’ll simply admire you for your triathlon accomplishments!

  14. May 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Brilliant story! I have a muscle issue that has kept me from trying to run since high school. Maybe it’s time to get out there again. I like your beginner attitude, small steps are ok!

  15. May 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I hadn’t realized until reading this post that we are both Oregon girls. Only one of us a runner. Great read!

  16. May 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    I am so glad you are running again. I know you missed it. I am trying to force myself back to the gym, I am depressed and this is how I punish myself. I know I will feel better if I go, I can’t seem to get it. You are my inspiration. I love you.

  17. jottlings
    May 7, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Oh I love you Debs. You are infinitely awesome.

  18. May 8, 2014 at 1:53 am

    I absolutely loved reading this post it gave me so much encouragement and enthusiasm! I always feel like I can’t run a marathon or swim four lengths in a row. I can’t I can’t I can’t… I don’t want to.
    But when you opened your post with ‘but I loved the feeling afterwards’ I knew the lousy six minute runs ending in extreme wheezing and stitches IS a part of it and it means we CAN do it. Bravo for your persistence, it is the mark of a true veteran 🙂
    I shall be following in your footsteps, hopefully!

  19. Gin
    May 8, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Oh how I needed to see this!! I’ve been attempting to “run” and was just whining to my husband yesterday about how I didn’t think I’d ever become a true runner. This reminded me that I can currently tun further & longer than I could when I started and if I keep at it, I’ll keep running further & longer. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom!!

  1. May 30, 2015 at 1:35 pm
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