Like everyone, I’ve had a lot of stress and life changes over the past few years that have taken a real toll on my fitness, self-confidence, sense of purpose, and motivation. After the holidays, I thought, “I need a GOAL to focus on.” So, when I received an email advertising a local ½ Marathon, I jumped on it. I counted the weeks I had until the Greenwich Cup ½ Marathon and Googled until I found the training program for me. My criteria: I had 17 weeks, I only wanted to run 3 days a week to give myself time to rest and cross-train, I was not an experienced distance runner, and I really wanted my week to start on Monday (I saw a lot of programs that had Monday as a rest day.) I chose my plan, put the whole thing on my calendar as “Running Appointments” and shared the schedule with a friend who committed to run the ½ Marathon with me.
The event is this Sunday, April 22, 2018. I’m a little anxious about it. I’m worried about blisters and pain in my feet and hips. I’m excited, too. I will write about my journey next week, but today I reflect on a piece I wrote 8 years ago. I had just come off surgery for breast cancer and I started running short, slow distances. Funny how I can still relate to these thoughts from 2010, but now I can celebrate how far I have come.
How does this relate to the rest of my blog and my “Creative Life” website? I will touch on this more in my next post, but for now I will say this: I learned a lot about discipline, setting small goals, trusting the process, and finding and accepting help. These are useful tools whether running a marathon (or a ½) or creating an art portfolio or recording an album. Or even making a great presentation at work.
Here is that post from March 2010
I Call Myself a Runner
I’d like to call myself a runner. But that’s probably a stretch. I frequently say things like, “I went for a great run last night,” when I really mean I shuffled around my neighborhood some until I got tired, then came home and tried not to look at the cookies in the cabinet. But I’m trying.
In high school, I was on the track team. I cheated. No, it wasn’t steroids. I cheated myself by not really running. When we were supposed to go out for distance road runs, I usually found a nice place to hide out for a while, and then I would catch up with the rest of the team when they came back for cool down. The truth is I hated running. It was just too hard. Needless to say, this lack of effort showed in my consistent last-place showings in track meets and my doughy thighs.
Now in my mid-40s, working long days at my bank job in Manhattan, commuting for over two hours a day on Metro-North, I have discovered something about myself. I need to run. I don’t do it to “be on the team.” I don’t do it to “look good” anymore, although, I must admit, it does help me battle the cookies. I do it because it gives back something that gets robbed away during the weekly grind.
Running is me. It is me breathing. It is me sweating. Shedding the stress of the week. Feeling the rhythm. Listening to the songs on my iPod. Working on my pace. Setting mini-goals like “Pick up the pace until you get to that stop sign” or giving myself reminders like “relax your shoulders, don’t bounce” and enjoying little successes with every step. It is me feeling the pounding of my feet in my running shoes on the uneven sidewalk in my neighborhood. As I run down Washington Boulevard, I breathe in the smells of the river, the trees, the exhaust from cars. I feel the heat of the sun on my face on a Saturday afternoon in March as I run past the Trump Tower. I notice the snow is still melting in some areas along Mill River Park. I jump over puddles and watch for buckled cracks in the path at Scalzi Park. I smile and wave at neighbors out walking or pushing their babies in strollers. I check out the houses and landscaping and cars of my town. I wonder if this sweatshirt is too heavy today.
I’m not going to win any races. I’m certainly not going to break any records or impress anyone out there. But I feel calmer, stronger, freer, and a little less doughy.
And, I can call myself a runner.