Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why I Run

I've always enjoyed running.  Not in the need to compete in races kind of way, but as a kid I liked to play tag or run the bases in kickball.  My favorite type of drills in basketball were the full court fast break run as quickly as you can drills.  When I was new I wanted to skip the learning to walk thing and go right to running.  As kids, didn't we all prefer running to walking?  We had places to go and new things to discover, why waste time walking?!  I think intrinsically we all want to run.  

In college I knew a few cross country athletes on the Saint Mary's team.  One of the runners on the team was getting ready to graduate and at the same time was training to run a marathon a few weeks after graduation.  A very bold way to celebrate I thought.  Running 26.2 miles is a huge audacious goal.  I was impressed to say the least.

Graduating from high school meant an end to team sports like football and baseball for me.  Graduation from college meant the end of basketball.  Sure I went on to play a little bit of town team baseball after college, but I didn't have the same enthusiasm for baseball like I did when I was in high school.  My favorite thing about sports is shooting for a goal and the journey you take to accomplish that goal.  I no longer could be a high school state champion, but I still wanted to accomplish something big.

I decided to run a marathon.  About as big of a goal that I've ever tried to tackle.

And the seven month marathon training was quite a journey.  I had my share of struggles.  Most of which were in my head.  I struggled to get out of the air conditioning and run in 90 degree heat.  I struggled to get out of bed on Saturday morning to go for a long run when I'd rather sleep in.  I struggled to go on a run after a long day of work.

But along the way came successes and a discovery of what I could do.  My first huge success was the first time running 10 miles.  This was a huge accomplishment for me because at this point I knew finishing a marathon was possible.  Then I surprised myself when I finished a half-marathon in under 2 hours.  

Towards the end of the training, you run for long distances - and that takes time.  Meaning you spend less time with your new bride while you run for four straight hours.  But race day is close and you've put in too much work to quit now.

The marathon day and the actual race will always remain one of the biggest memories I'll ever have.  The weather was perfect.  Cool and sunny.  I crossed the finish line in the time that I had hoped for and then it was over.  I, like 10,000 other marathon finishers, competed in the same course following the same footsteps as world class professional athletes.   I can share more about the race, but blogs are supposed to be short.

Something unexpected happened during the marathon training.  Running changed me.  Running was now a part of me.  Even though the marathon was over- I felt a craving to keep running.  If I didn't go on a run, my day wasn't complete.  If I failed to hit the road for more than 2-3 days I started to feel depressed.  Even stranger yet, I grew to love running in extreme conditions.  I now absolutely love running in the rain, the heat, and extreme cold.  No longer is there a desire to run a marathon, but just a desire to lace up my sneakers and run for 30-40 minutes.  It's not easily understood but -

That is why I run.