Monday, April 7, 2014

Why I run

Audrey and I enjoyed yesterday's stunning weather with a bike ride for her and a run for me. It was such a treat to run next to her as she biked through the dry leaves, left over from fall and finally free from winter's grip. "I love the crunch of leaves. It's one of my favorite sounds. It's why I love fall and spring." She would giggle as she blasted through a puddle. We looked at grackles and robins and a cardinal and she asked me to remember the names so she could write them in her secret diary that she admits isn't so secret. The giggles and conversation shared still bring a smile to my face these 24 hours later.

I love being active with my kids and hope it will translate to a lifelong love of healthy activities. We hike and ski, bike and run, shoot hoops and toss baseballs, not to mention dance parties in the living room. It is a wonderful way for us to enjoy each other and this beautiful world we live in.

My time with Audrey yesterday reminded me of something I wrote after a particularly tough training run that left me feeling particularly badass. I thought I'd share it here.

Sometimes, when you’re standing under a streetlight on the sidewalk a half a block from your house, and it’s dark and it’s raining, and you’ve run 7 800s and you have 3 to go, and you are literally watching the rain turn to ice under your feet, you find out what you’re made of. And I found out I’m tougher than I thought, tougher than I give myself credit for.

There were times my legs were screaming stop in every language and with increasing hysteria and my mind really wanted to acquiesce to their pleas. I could slow up for just a few steps, I thought. But, no, the running angel on my shoulder cautioned, the one with cut shoulders and wicked quads, you can do this. Just keep going. Every step gets you closer.

So I did. Again and again I did.

Ten times I did and then I was done and all the hurt didn’t matter because I had crushed my goal time and my mind and body were in that perfect, beautiful rhythm that brings clarity to my thoughts. Decisions that, just an hour ago felt really big and too hard to tackle, made sense as if sweating and panting and running cleared the fog from my brain, making way for coherent, pleasant, workable thoughts.

Ten times I did it when I wanted to stop after five. But I didn’t. There was no finish line and no crowd-lined streets echoing with the din of cowbells and whoops of support. No medal waiting for me and no pace setters guiding me.  No glory and no PRs. Just me and my tennies pounding the sidewalk on a dark, rainy night. But I kept going. Because I’m strong enough, mentally and physically. I can do things today I couldn’t do one year, or even one month ago. I am pushing and stretching and challenging and my mind and body are answering every call I put to it.

And that’s why I run.

And that’s why I hope my kids find their equivalent to running. Because success doesn’t have to happen in a board room or in a kitchen or in a classroom or in a scientific laboratory. Because life is meant to be lived with all we’ve got, from our heads to our toes. Because when you discover what you can do on the track or on your bike or at the climbing wall or on the dance floor or in the pool, you realize that it also applies to what you can do in life; what you can endure when adversity stares you down and slaps you silly and expects you to get up and take it again.

And guess what? You get up because you’ve fought through the pain before and you know there is a grand pay-off at the end. You do it, knowing it’ll hurt again, knowing you’ll get knocked down again, but knowing you’ve overcome before and that you can most certainly do it again. You do it because finding out what you’re capable of means finding out who you are. You do it because anything worth doing is worth working hard for. You do it because the voice within cheering you on means more than any other voice. You do it because you can, even if you thought you couldn’t. You do it.

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