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.
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.
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.
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.