Sunday, October 9, 2011

I want to tell you a a story about why I run

This is me right before my run.  I may not look pretty, but look how happy I am
(and tired and layered for warmth and trying to keep dry)
This time last week, I was huddled inside Campbell-Savona Junior/Senior (pronounced camp-bell…the locals are very particular about this) with 999 other people awaiting the start of the 1st annual Corning, NY Wineglass half-marathon.*  Clad in a variety of super-bizarre rainy-weather running gear that only a fellow race-runner could appreciate, we compared stories of past races and our hopes for this one.  Even though we were all excited to run, we were reluctant to venture out to the start line when it was time to start.  Why?  Because it was pouring rain and barely above freezing.  But still, like good little runners, we went out there, did our silly little jogging in place and said our final good lucks and made our final ajustments and then, when the airhorn sounded, we were off…

I can't speak for anyone else, but personally, as soon as I start running, I retreat into my own little world inside my head and no matter how hard its raining, no  matter how cold it is, no matter how much my leg is hurting, no matter how hard it is to breathe, I just run.  And I just keep on running.  And I just feel happy. And at peace.  Overwhelming problems seem to solve themselves.  And seemingly mundane, regular parts of your life that you don't even think about seem so wonderful that you find yourself wiping away tears of joy recalling how lucky you are.  Like, after being together for almost 18 years, I can still take a 5-hour road trip with my husband and have enough to talk about that we don't ever turn the radio on.

It is a very strange thing for your body to be in the fight of a lifetime and your mind to be completely at peace, all at the same time.

Unfortunately, the second you cross the finish line, the bubble of my own private world bursts and I'm back on planet earth shivering so hard I can barely grasp the silver blanket they put around me, wheezing so hard I can barely respond when I'm asked if I'm ok and ankles, feet and legs so sore that the one block walk to the car seems just as difficult as the preceeding 13.1 miles.  And I forget how exactly I solved that problem and exactly what I was so happy about.

But then I found this mug in a store:
I guess if somene said it, and someone else liked it enough to put it on a mug,
then other people must feel it and "get it", too.

And it reminded me that the wonderful world I visit when running doesn't have to be just a vacation spot, it can be my permanant home.  If I let it...

I thought about this a lot this week, and I have to tell you, while it wasn't perfect, there were a lot of things that happened this week that made me so happy, that they brought tears to my eyes.  And I wasn't even running.

Do you want to hear more about it?

*For those of you out there feeling superior to me right now, or looking down on me for only doing the half, I would like you to know two things: 1.  I have conquered that beast known as the full marathon.  Twice.  And while they were two of the best experiences of my life--with the tattoos to prove it--I really do prefer the half.  2. Running a full marathon does not make one a (wo)man.  I know that now, and so should you.


  1. Congratulations! I think being able to run past two miles is a huge milestone (yup, that's about it for me!). I like what you have to say about how you feel when you run, the philosophy. I feel the same way and each time I run all my creative juices flow and great thoughts to mind. Often I plow ahead and build on those thoughts, some I've forgotten once the endorphins wear off. I just wish I could get my legs to go further so the creative thoughts would go on!

  2. i remember in college reading frank conroy's "stop-time", which reminded me of the times when i was a kid and just able to be caught like a cat in a warm sun-beam, watching pieces of dust float by, totally enamored, in my own mind and unaware of the time passing by.

    that feeling of being in a world no one else has access to, a world where time doesn't exist, in your own private bubble is one that comes up a couple of times in my life, specifically related to your post.

    one is with my wife, on those long car rides (as with you and your husband), on walks to target to buy diapers with (and for!) our son, on friday evenings when the house is quiet and we are more happy to be alone together than out on the town... time does not exist.

    the other is out on the run, really very similarly to how you've described it... lactic acid's problem dissolving properties.

    and then, when those moments are done, life picks up where it left off, tick-tock, tick-tock.