Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Heart Races

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.

12 comments:

CoCo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CoCo said...

I love it when sports/physical activities teach a lesson that can be applied to all areas of our lives ("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.").

The same reason I take (or have taken) hip hop dance classes is b/c I'm TERRIBLE at them. It's humbling and a good lesson that I'm not going to do everything right the first time and 100% of the time - so good for you for doing things that are not comfortable situations and for learning to master self in those situations. Even Boston.

JS said...

Reading your blog always gives me that push I need to keep trying.

Mary said...

KT, you're the best. I loved this entry and feel free to look for that "long, fun run" in Austin...

Jen said...

Good for you- running for any sort of pleasure an innately lazy person like me cannot fathom...but I have to say if you were considered "chubby," then I'm screwed!

tim & brandi said...

You are such a great writer - and have managed to say a lot of how I personally feel about running. I think you can tell a lot about a person just by knowing that they are a "runner." It's such a mental control thing - and I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit that it spills over into the rest of my life. I'm a little jealous of you getting to run the Wasatch Back. I'm ready to commit to next year though, so if you hear of anyone in need of a teammate, send them my way.

~b

Betsy said...

i love you katie.

Jayne said...

Listen to you mom and sister - they are brilliant women and they love you!

Denise said...

I loved this entry - and it motivated me! I have had that same argument with myself I don't know how many times, 10 minutes into a run. It is such a mental sport. I have struggled getting back out there after just having my 3rd child - it doesn't help that my husband can run and run without training. For those of us that really have to work at, it is such a triumph! Love you!

Way to go!

Jane said...

KATIE! Thanks for the comments. I am very proud of you for running the Wasatch Back. I 've yet to truly take up running, but have a wagon full of friends who do. I have an old hip that it totally against it. I hope you've made it home to Boston safely and things perk up for you - the store you work at or are putting together {not quite sure} is adorable - best of luck!!!

Wendi said...

I like where your head is at!

UnderRoos said...

GReat entry. You're awesome!