I usually link up with Helene for Travel Tuesdays today...and I had every intention of posting about the Edinburgh leg of my Labor Day weekend adventure with Mary, but I just can't bring myself to write about anything else besides running today.
Yesterday, I discovered just how much running means to me. It hasn't always meant much to me. In fact, back in my middle school Lady Cougar basketball days, I hated conditioning because that meant running. And that wasn't fun...at all! Then, I moved on to high school where I joined the track team. I learned I didn't like running any more than I had in middle school, but I learned a few tricks of the trade and I stuck with it for the camaraderie...and a crush or two I may or may not have had at the time :) Nonetheless, running still wasn't fun. A few years down the line, I moved to New York. I made some great friends. Those friends ran. What's a girl to do when all her friends run? Join in the fun...yes, this time it actually WAS fun!
My first "real" race was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k in Central Park way back in September of 2009.
I signed up for that race because of the encouragement and support of my friends. These amazing ladies showed me that running is more than just a way to get some exercise. They showed me that it can be a way to challenge yourself, to build community with others, and to unwind and just reflect on life.
Over time, they've taught me that it's ok to not be fast as long as you continue to race against yourself. They've taught me that it's ok to finish last as long as you finish. They've taught me that it's ok to set lofty running goals because you just might surprise yourself with what you are able to accomplish when you put your mind and body to the test. They've taught me that it's ok to enjoy running, but even when you do, sometimes, you just have to make yourself get out there and go.
|So proud at the finish of my first official race!|
One race lead to another with a group of friends from work. This one was a Big Brothers, Big Sisters 4k a month or so later in Riverside Park. I was starting to really enjoy running for the first time in my life. It wasn't easy, but it was productive. I just needed a good pair of shoes and my ipod shuffle...and I was set. Not a worry in the world. Just me and the streets of New York.
By the Spring of 2010, I wasn't quite ready to tackle 13.1, but I was on my way. I was able to competitively (for me) run a 5k in flushing with a group of friends from church. It was a great experience. The first time I really felt truly ready for a race. And the thought of having so many spectators and supporters for our group just made the excitement that much more intense.
It was later that fall when I ran my first half marathon in Chicago alongside my brothers with the rest of our family there to cheer us on. And a month later my boyfriend cheered for me and several of my friends as we ran the Diva Half in Long Island. I have only the fondest of memories of both races. Partly because I was accomplishing a great feat with family and friends, but also because of the support of loved ones cheering me on. There really is nothing better than seeing someone you love at the beginning, middle, and end of a long race. It's motivating. It's exciting. It pushes me to keep moving when everything else wants to just stop. It's necessary...at least for me.
These are the reasons why the devastation that occurred at the finish of the Boston Marathon struck home for me in a real strong way. I wasn't able to catch much of the coverage until after work when I went to the gym. But I could barely concentrate. I teared up. I felt sick. I just kept thinking of the horror of it all and how it could have easily been me out there. But then I remembered all of the reasons why I run. All of the joy it has brought me over the past five years. All the friendships. All the fun. All the excitement.
My prayers go out to all of the runners and spectators that were there today especially those whose lives were forever changed. I'm thankful for race personnel and public service officials that risk their own safety to help protect others. As much as I want to be scared and feel afraid about the task of running the NYC Marathon that lays before me, I'm going to be hopeful instead. I'm going to treat running as a privilege. I'm going to have a much better appreciation for the race staff and volunteers along the way. I'm going to be even more thankful for all those smiling faces at the finish line...especially those smiling faces of my loved ones. I'm going to continue having fun running and making friends along the way because that is truly what it is all about.