I started running (seriously) at age 11, when I was sent off on the school cross-country course along with my classmates. Back then, you were supposed to hate running. I tried to conform, but the truth was, I loved it. I loved the freedom I felt from gliding under the tree canopy, staggering up the hills and flying down, feeling that burn and still pushing on.
By the way, all the pictures are recent because cameras weren’t invented back then… 😉
I took running with me to the track where I wanted to run the 800 but was told I was more suited to the mile. I took running to France for several cross-country meets, and we even traveled to the English Schools’ Cross Country Championship in 1991 – a highlight of our relationship at that point.
Of course, we’ve fallen out on more than one occasion, running and I. When I went to Sheffield University I succumbed to other distractions and became an unreliable team member, showing up for some meets and bailing from those that scared me such as the BUSF (British University Sports Federation) Cross-Country Championships, which required me to run farther than I wanted (I hid out in a pub instead of going). Running and I broke up when I transferred to the University of Maryland. I made a clean break and took sailing as my rebound lover.
But I couldn’t get my mind completely off running and, after two years, we started up again, cautiously at first. My first 5K after we reunited was a disaster. It was the Terrapin Trot at UMD, a race that started with a very steep downhill from the student union towards Route 1. (They’ve since changed the start.) I shredded my quads on the descent and almost had to walk in the latter stages of the race.
Recovering from that setback, and making a commitment to better training, running and I became close again. I signed up for Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and shared running with a group that kicked my butt in Rock Creek Park every Saturday.
When I got engaged, my (now) husband’s baseball team mates joked that I wouldn’t let him play baseball once we were married. I retorted that I planned to keep my paramour and he was therefore more than welcome to keep his.
After my sons were born I felt an even greater need for running.
We started seeing more and more of each other, until I finally felt ready to run a marathon. We’d been together 22 years at that point. We’ve run 5 more marathons, including an ultra, since then.
Three years ago, feeling that I needed more excitement in my life, I decided to try a threesome – triathlon. Triathlon made me appreciate running even more. Of the three disciplines, running is my strength and has helped me place numerous times and, on three occasions, win.
Of course, there are times when I get frustrated with running and just don’t feel like doing it. It’s too hot, it’s too cold, I’m tired, I have a headache… But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and there’s nothing like a forced break such as injury or travel to make me realize the importance of running in my life.
I hope to grow old with running by my side.
Happy Valentines’ Day. 😉