I believe in running. During my junior year of high school I tried out for the track team but was promptly and unceremoniously cut. It was a devastating blow to my fragile teenage ego as I witnessed those popular girls, who had not been cut, giggle and hang all over the coach. Naturally I lost interest in the sport. But I got over it and at some point durng college began running for exercise. This was the point where I began to understand the beauty of running. Running made me feel good and helped to burn off some of those beer calories I had been consuming.
I believe running has taught me how to let go. After a long torturous run uphill with quads burning, a glorious downhill looms in front of me. It is here that I’ve learned to let go, to let a force bigger than myself take over. At one time I would have tried to control it and hold back. Now I don’t fight it, I give myself over to it. It’s rather like letting go of other people’s expectations and bad attitudes. I can’t control what others do so I now give myself over to my own dreams.
I believe running has truly taught me how to be intimate with friends. Out on those long Sunday runs with my running buddies I am able to share everything with them. We share our biggest fears, our quiet secrets and we even share techniques on how to blow snot without getting it on our new Sauconys. We see each other at our lowest point when the body is barely functioning, when the mere act of speaking is too painful or when we smell as foul as my boys’ fermenting lacrosse gear. We also share the sheer joy of pushing ourelves further than we thought humanly possible.
I believe running has taught me to believe in myself. At a particularly grueling point during my first marathon, a young boy held up a sign from the sideline stating: You are beautiful, You are strong and You will finish. This has become my mantra in difficult times of running and in life. There are times during a run when my body is worn out, depleted of fuel and wants to hop into the next vehicle home to find the comfort of my lazyboy. I now instinctively begin reciting my mantra to find a way through to the end. When my youngest son was seriously ill I never missed a run. Running got my through it. As I released my stress it allowed me to refocus my attention on the family. I did get through it, he got through it and I am stronger for it.
I believe I will be running as long as my aging body will allow. I can’t imagine my life without running but if that fateful day happens, I know in my heart that I am beautiful, I am strong and I will finish.
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