I am not a runner. I'm not physically built for it, I am very slow, I am pretty good at justifying why I am too tired/sick/lazy to do it, even my best runs usually start with me wondering why on earth I put myself through it, but I've been doing it pretty regularly for about eight years now and I can't seem to leave it alone. Even as I am loving my bike more and more, I keep telling my running shoes not to worry about being abandoned.
I had a lot of time to think about why I run while I was trying to keep one foot in front of the other through my twelve miles of Wasatch Back legs this weekend. My first leg came at about 5:30 in the afternoon and although it was fairly flat, my Boston lungs and untrained legs weren't exactly pleased to be out. I really tried to do some "cramming" the two weeks before the event but frankly, I really just wanted to be home and with my family and friends this weekend and the race was the vehicle to get me there. My heart was not in training, which is too bad because I think I would have been a happier and less stressed out girl the last few months if I had been working out regularly. But alas, you all know how that hindsight stuff is.
So it's 5:45 on Friday afternoon and the sun is blazing and my body is freaking out a little bit and I start wondering what would happen if I got in the car and just said, "hey guys, I don't think I can do this." And suddenly it clicked why I keep running. I'm not good at it. It's hard for me. And I don't always love it, even when I'm telling everyone around me that I do. So I feel an extraordinary sense of accomplishment whenever I make it through a long run, when I really do manage to feel that runner's high, when I successfully stick with my training for a race, when it's 1:30 in the morning and I tear myself out of a warm bed to put on a headlamp and do it for the team.
It's so cliche and I feel like no one needs to hear another story about how someone's marathon "changed their life". But six years ago when I was a sad, chubby, moody little person wondering why on earth I had moved to California, signing up to do Team in Training changed everything. Every time I choose to go to bed early on a Friday night so I could get up and meet my team felt like I was chipping away at a stronger version of myself that I was only sort of convinced existed. Sticking with it for five months and even struggling through a stress fracture and the physical therapy I had to do to be ready to run felt like a big "eff you" to all the fears and doubts about my ability to survive my first big grownup move.
I run because it's one very clear way I have to show myself that I can do hard things. I was absolutely not ready for the Wasatch Back. Poorly trained, mentally frazzled, even a little bit cranky-very much the way I showed up here in Boston.
But I did it. And after that initial "what am I doing here again??" feeling I got into the rhythm of the race and it felt really good. I ended up running easier and faster then I did last year. I enjoyed the scenery a little more and I even passed a few people (including two GUYS on an uphill climb!!). It's sort of stunning what your body can do when your brain says it must.
Right now I am feeling like a giant failure in pretty much every aspect of my life. About once a week I shake my head and wonder how I let this being back in Boston thing happen. I had sort of a meltdown with my mom and sisters today as time to get on the plane back got closer. As my sister pointed out-four months in a place feels like long enough that you should be settled but it's not long enough for that to actually be true. I feel like a big fat loser at work and since that was my major reason for coming it's definitely coloring the rest of my experience. So I will get some sleep tomorrow night (ah the red eye, such a brilliant plan when you buy the ticket, such a terrible terrible reality.) and then I will look for a race to run this fall-something long and someplace fun, and we'll see where I end up.