I started running about seven years ago, I think. Little Man was about three years old. I was doing Weight Watchers to take off the last of the baby weight, and wanted something other than just the gym as far as exercise. As a mom of three young children, my time was limited. Running was the biggest bang for my exercise buck. Besides which, my brother said I could be a runner, and I believed him. So I started running.
There’s a path that goes around the entire outside of our neighborhood. It’s about 2.8 miles, gate to gate. That first day, I couldn’t even get 100 yards without stopping, and I was not an out-of-shape person. My first goal was to get to the corner, then half a mile, then maybe to the end of the dirt trail, and so on. It took a few months to be able to get all the way around the loop without stopping. It was hard work. I didn’t love running. I hated thinking about going running. I loved how I felt when I was done. I loved being outside. There’s also something about the camaraderie you get with other runners you don’t have when you’re in a gym on a treadmill.
I signed up for my first half marathon (completely skipping any 5 or 10k’s) four years ago. The training began. It was a rough race, but I finished. I was sure I was done racing. Bucket-list item checked. I considered myself more of a run-for-exercise type person. I didn’t race again for over three years. I’ve spent the last year in training for one race or another. It’s exhausting. Running became all about pace, times, long runs, tempo runs, short runs, recovery runs, and races. By the end of my last training cycle, running was drudgery. I’d been so focused on training and preparing for races, I’d forgotten why I started running in the first place.
I’ve run exactly three times since the OC Half. Two of those runs were less-than-stellar. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be out there. Then there was yesterday. I woke up itching to be outside. It was warmer than I’d like, but it was a gorgeous morning. I didn’t think about time. I didn’t think about pace. I almost didn’t even turn on my running app, except I’m somewhat OCD about giving myself credit for every mile. I just turned the music on and went. There were lots of other runners out, some slow, some fast. We live in an area where outdoor exercise is the norm. It. Was. Awesome. I remembered why I had started running. For that alone, I was grateful. It wasn’t my longest run. It wasn’t my fastest run, but it was probably one of the best runs of my life.
In two weeks, I have minor surgery scheduled, but it’s surgery that will require at least a month off from running (trust me, it was one of the first questions I asked my doctor – When can I run again?). I have no plans for races all summer. I’m mildly contemplating a mid-November race, but am more thinking it will be 2015 before I really plan on another half, or even 10K. Particularly after yesterday, I just want to focus on remembering why I started running. I want to just enjoy being out there.