I’ve been thinking a lot about running lately—probably because it is easy to run here in the South where the temperatures stay nice and toasty and you can get a great sweat going in only a few minutes—a little different than the frigid Michigan temperatures I’m used to at this time of the year. Running has been a part of my life for a long time now, but I wasn’t awlways a runner. In fact, I didn’t start running until I was about 23 years old, in graduate school at the Universty of Michigan. Oh, I had always “tried” to run before then—I’d get maybe a mile into a run and declare myself “done” and “tired” and “not really a runner at all”. But when I went to graduate school, I met my friend Loren, who really encouraged my running. She and I started running together and she signed up to run a big race in West Michigan—the Riverbank Run—and I figured, “Well, I can do that too.”
So we both signed up for it and trained and ran it, but that was after we ran the Dexter Ann Arbor Half Marathon. Now, I had only ever run a 5k before I signed up for Dexter Ann Arbor. I hadn’t run more than 4 miles in my entire life and here I was signing up for a half marathon, what was I thinking? Nevertheless, I trained and I finished—it wasn’t pretty though. I think it took me almost 3 hours and I had too many blisters to count at the end—not to mention the fact that the race occurred on one of the hottest days of the year with temperatures soaring to almost 95 degrees throughout the route. It was a rough, rough, race. But the feeling I had at the end of it was unlike anything I had ever experienced—I felt strong and confident and proud. My mom and Ian and some friends were there to cheer me on and watch me finish and the hamburger I was able to enjoy post race….also unlike anything I had ever experienced. Thus, my foray into distance running was born and it hasn’t stopped since.
This year will mark my 10th year as a distance runner. I’ve run 5 marathons, countless half marathons and several Olympic and Sprint triathlons. I run at least 5 days a week and aim to run 7 days when it works with my schedule. I’m not fast (I still average around an 8:30 mile on short runs, closer to 10 minutes on long runs) and I probably don’t look like a typical runner, but I’m doing it and that’s what counts. Moving back to Michigan and now taking this trip has allowed me to really prioritize running—I’m able to enjoy solitude and quiet and peace on long runs, be they along Lake Michigan in the morning in Grand Haven, or through a moss covered canopy of a state park here in Florida. Even this coming weekend I’ve learned that there is a run in Savannah, GA where we will be in a few hours, so I am hoping to run the “Double Pump” section of it—a 5k followed immediately by a 10k. It crosses the historic Savannah Bridge and it will be a great way to see a city I already love.
There really isn’t a point to this post, but I just wanted to write quick about how my life has changed since I started running 10 years ago. I now consider myself an athlete—something in high school I never would have said about myself. I am known to pack 3 pairs of running shoes for every pair of flats. Going for a run as the sun rises is one of the best things I can possible imagine for your soul and I am so proud to say that I am a runner. Running has introduced me to one of the best communities of fellow runners out there, I have made numerous friends through running and I have a sport I can take part in regardless of where I am in the world.