When my journey toward runner started two years ago I did not think it would stick. Sure I had run in high school but it wasn’t my thing. I liked soccer far better. Track was just something to do in the Spring and I happened to be in a town where not much happened. Everyone played some sport. Not like we were going out in the city. It was rural and quiet. We played sports. I didn’t love to run. I wasn’t fast enough. Nothing to write home about. I ended up sprinting and jumping since that was where I was needed. It never pounded out lots of weekly miles and surely didn’t think twice when I headed off to college. Running was left there in HS. No great loss. Over the years I would run on occasion. To blow off steam, or to just get some extra cardio in during my phases of “gym” membership. After my first long hospital stay I did head to the gym religiously. It was what I did. I think I very much-needed it at that point in my life. As time passed riding horses became what I used to stay balanced and to decrease stress. I rode and competed when I returned to school. I never was one for pressure and sure did not excel as I moved beyond the regular season of shows. I just didn’t do well. My head got in the way. I was frustrated. I continued working with the horses and life went on. I never worked out regularly. Riding 5-9 horses a day did the job. I didn’t have to think about what I put in my body. Beer, food and whatever else. It stayed the same. That had not changed until meds came into my life. These drugs don’t play nice. None of them. There are consequences of taking them. Any of them. The atypical antipsychotics are especially hard. As my weight fluctuated up and down over the past ten years I have always been able to battle back. To get the upper hand and get myself back to my baseline. The weight my body will remain if all was normal. Sadly that is long gone. I recaptured periods of it between meds and at times on certain combos that were pretty weight neutral. Two years ago I was at the higher end of the spectrum of what I find acceptable. I was feeling crappy about myself. Life was about work. I wasn’t riding as much. I was exercising at the gym though I found it boring as hell. I felt better after an hour session of cardio but could not stand the atmosphere and the people (never mind the germs….). I was asked to do Tough Mudder. Who would have thought that alone would rechart the course of my life. Two years later. Averaging almost 3 miles a day I have reached the 2000 mile mark. Who would have thought??? I am not a super star. I’m not a 4 minute mile Division I athlete, just a person about to turn 40 that found a place to call home for a while. I don’t often stick with things forever. I get bored and lose focus. Strange this isn’t the case with running. It is like a food that feeds my soul. I need it. I absolutely have to log the miles. It is habit and it is important. On the days when I feel tired and lazy, when I don’t want to go out the door something compels me. It sends me to the closet for my sneakers.
Running is an interesting activity. Each workout can build you in fitness and make you stronger but it is never EASY. If someone tells you running is simple they are lying. Sure some people are blessed and they can propel themselves across the earth with ease. They are also usually Kenyan. For the rest of us mere mortals running is about getting from point A to point B without keeling over. If there are hills involved even more so. Running can be as hard as you make it. That is the beauty of it. Want to work harder, go faster or go higher. It is pretty straight forward. There are no weights, no gym memberships. Just your feet. The variables one encounters on every run are amazing and no one workout is exactly like another. They are like snow flakes. It is what makes running so unique and frustrating at times. A run one day feels fantastic and easy, even if you are running faster than usual, while the next day and quick jaunt around the block feels like an Everest ascent. Who knew? I sure didn’t because I was never a runner. I didn’t understand the nuances of cadence and breathe. I knew nothing. I still know nothing beyond what my body tells me each day. As the running habit settled in it was only a matter of time before racing was a possibility. Considering Tough Mudder started this whole thing it was only a matter of time. I am competitive by nature. Always have been. I am passionate and driven when it comes to sports of any kind. Put me on a polo horse and a side of me comes out that most people never expect. Tough as the day is long and I will give just as hard as I get, even if you are twice my size. I play like a guy. I play like I have nothing to lose. There is no other way to me. It is just the way I am made. Why it matters so much? I have no idea. Why I get so wired about competing? Don’t know. It is how my family is. All of us enjoy some degree of athletic pursuit. (except my mom). My dad was an avid and extremely good tennis player. We all swam and played sports. My cousins all competed in different sports. It was just how we were. I think it is genetic. Guess it isn’t so surprising that I found racing intriguing. Sure I was overwhelmed initially since it isn’t something I knew or had done. Not being one to stick a toe in the shallow end I dove head first into the deep end with a half marathon as my first endeavor. It was hard. They are supposed to be. I loved it. It was such an amazing experience. That led to many more miles and lots of different sneakers as I burned through the soles of each. Another half marathon and then on to shorter distances. The last race showed me that hard work can indeed reap benefits. It is okay to want something just for me. To have an activity only for me. and this is it. I don’t know how many miles I have in my legs. I don’t know where I’ll be at the 3000 mile mark but I do sure hope I reach it. I have reignited a sleeping spark. I had lost focus and was bogged down in nagging injuries. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep plugging away. I raced last weekend and it was like someone flipped a switch in my brain and body. It was the moment when I looked for something I thought was beyond me and found it. I was able to put aside the doubt and worry. I lost the fear and the hate. I lost the endless smothering worry that lives here. I ran hard. I ran to the edge of what I was capable of and it showed me I have some more in there. It was probably one of the most illuminating 24 minutes of my life and all it took was my two feet. It wasn’t on a shrink’s couch or in a doctor’s office. It wasn’t in a text book or a lecture. The tools to saving my soul are there in me. I just haven’t found the right tools. The untapped reserves settled there are vast though I am all to quick to lose sight of that. What else beyond running can I find to ignite this fire? I don’t have any answers just wish I knew, till then running will continue to be my salvation. One mile at a time.