Sunday, March 9, 2014

a running miracle

Every day when I wake up I check my Timehop app. My friend Jolie turned me on to it and I love it because I am such a date person. Precision matters to me. Timehop shows you all the social networking and pictures from as many years as you have been posting. Today I had posts from 1-5 years ago. But one of them left me in happy tears. I knew what today was. March 9, 2013 was my first race after I had been running regularly and training. It is a race I actually get to do next weekend, so it will be special. Here is what I wrote a year ago today, followed by my comments:

A few days before winter, I ran a 5K after getting asthma medicine and began running every day. Through cold and snow, through learning to breathe, through hills and elevation. Every day I ran. I put my cover photo up a while back that says “A strong spring is earned in the winter." Today, a few days before spring, was my first race since a few days before winter. I don't have the genetics to be fast, but I have the discipline to train. That‘s why at the 5K mark, I realized I had PRed, and then I came in a full minute under what I had hoped I might do. Was I fast? Maybe to the walkers :-) But I beat myself--and that was the only person I was racing. I found my strong. I earned my strong spring, and I‘m ready to go back out tomorrow and run some more.
Indeed, that race marked an amazing and successful year for me. I kind of laugh at my time in that race now because I have run almost 10 minutes faster in training runs—and it was only a 4-miler. And that’s the point. I think that’s what I started crying as I read it and saw the pictures where I was positively beaming.

Running works. Many times in my life I have made efforts towards things that have failed. It’s discouraging to work hard at something and see no fruit. Currently in my personal life I am working hard at something that has some fruit, but not enough. It’s frustrating and even despairing at times. Running yields results. Period.

I have the same picture on my FB cover shot this year. I put it up when ice storm after ice storm came. I ran in colder weather this year in southwest OK than I did last year in one of the top 20 cold metro areas of the US. Go figure. I ran in snow and ice and winds. Winds are new to me, but I do it. I did it. I ran. Runners run. That’s my mantra. And so as I am preparing for what is the first unofficial spring race this year and see that post from last year, I remember. It worked. I kept working and it worked for me. Running has transformed my life.

On the outside I look obsessed because I plan my life around running. Running has been my best friend and closest love for the longest time. I began running in a response to losing all I knew and had held on to for years. Running is what got me through and gets me through. We all plan our lives around what we love most. In my case I have people I love who also get priority, but I had no people then. I had my run. It’s not obsession as much as it is love. I don’t know how to explain that. But to me it would be dumb to not do something that is a formula for joy and love and wonder. Every run, even on the same course, is different. Every run reminds me of something, teaches me something. Every run brings me joy. Every. Single. One. So you may think I am obsessed, but I think I have a secret you don’t!

Today was the Asics LA Marathon, which I watched online. I love watching marathons, seeing the elite runners compete and how they endure, seeing those who would be a model for me, though physically it is impossible I would ever achieve their level of athleticism. I cry when I watch marathons. I cry when I watch the winner fight and come out ahead. I cry for the human spirit that wins every time, that reminds me what I can do if I persist.

Most people I know now did not know me “when.” They did not see the morbidly obese child who lied almost daily to get out of PE class. I actually went to a hardware store in 8th grade and bought Plaster of Paris and made a cast for my wrist because I knew that a cast on my wrist would be a reason to get out of PE; who asks for a doctor’s note when you have a cast? The majority of people in my life now only know me as a runner. They didn’t know me when I smoked 1.5-2 packs of cigarettes a day. They don’t know who I was before this or what an amazing feat I have accomplished. They don’t know the level of hate I had for my body—the same body I now declare is amazing.

Running is positive to me. Always. I don’t like it when people comment about hating running. Really, find another sport if you hate it! I don’t like the stress that surrounds it or negative obsessions. I never have. I feel like running is my friend, as much as any friend is. It is always good. If I don’t PR, who cares? I still ran. I am grateful every day that I can run. I take none of it for granted because I know there was a time I couldn’t run. I was too fat and out of shape and stricken with asthma. I was laughed at by kids and beat up in school. I dropped out of school most years after 3rd grade (that is not a typo) mostly because of PE.

I am a miracle and I know it every time I run. Running is one of the great loves of my life. Today, I went out to run 6 miles and came home with a spontaneous 9.33 miles. A 15K run just because I felt like it. That, my friends, is a miracle.

I have posted this on my personal Facebook page before, but it seems like today it is a good illustration of why every run is a miracle and joy. This is what I looked like when I was 15:

And this is me today:

Any questions?

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