Pushing Personal Limits

Michelle - Apache Junction, Arizona
Entered on December 2, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in working hard for a challenging goal.

I find an outlet for my belief in running. I do not have an athletic build, quite the opposite actually; I am a short stocky woman. I have never been good at sports, I am hopelessly uncoordinated and often clumsy. But all of those things do not stop me from pursuing the sport of running.

Running takes motivation, it takes strength and dedication, and for me at least, it rarely comes easily. Perhaps this is why I love it. Running pushes both my mental and physical, boundaries.

Last year I decided to take my hobby of running to the next level; I decided to enter the local marathon by running the 10K event. Three of my friends were also running in the marathon and persuaded me to run the half marathon with them. We began training early in October for the February event. We ran separately during the week and as a group on Sunday mornings at six .a.m. We trained on the hilly dirt roads of our home town, on which the marathon would be run. We practiced the difficult hills and encouraged each other to keep moving when it got tough.

The most memorable run we ran came one cold rainy January morning. As native Arizonans the rain added a new dimension to our challenge. We had no idea how freezing cold or heavy rain could be. We started in a light drizzle which became full on rain by mile five of our nine mile run. This run was the greatest test of our endurance during training, it was hard. We endured it at the time but, even now we still talk about the challenge of that specific run.

On the day of the race I lined up at the start line, with my friends and a thousand others, exhilarated and curious. Curious because I had never run 13 miles before and although I had a good idea of what a long run required, this was 13.1 miles of constant running. The starting gun fired and there was no looking back. We ran. Near the end of the race my body was so tired, I could feel myself slowing down; I just wanted to finish. I was determined that I would not walk one step of this event and that I would finish, and I did. It took 2 hours and 26 minutes to finish the race, not great time really but, I wasn’t worried about time, just finishing.

I love running while watching the sun come up over the mountains as I am breathing in and out. I even love the burn in my lungs as they work hard to supply my body with oxygen. I love feeling fully alive as my body struggles to run up long, tough hills. I love what running does for me; it is not something tangible, like the metal all of us finishers earned, it is something invisible and powerful.