Monday, April 11, 2011

Running For Life

Last week I had a realization.  When speaking to someone about team sports, I told them I’d never done any type of sport in school.  Ballet as a toddler, gymnastics until I was ten, and then, nothing.

But then, suddenly, I realized that wasn’t exactly true.  In the sixth grade, I ran track.  That was it, one single solitary year.  That year post childhood and pre-teendom.  The first year I attended a regular American school (i.e. not a bilingual, English as a second language school).  About a year and a half after moving to the United States from Portugal.  For some strange reason, that year I joined the track team.  I don’t remember very much about it, but I remember that I was good at it, and I enjoyed it.  I won a few blue ribbons in the process.  And I had a crush on my coach/gym teacher…all the girls did.

But then I went to junior high, and puberty hit, and girls were mean, and I wanted nothing to do with sports and wanted to be a girlie girl.

And so ended my career in school sports, along with any interest whatsoever in any kind of physical activity.

I owned one pair of sneakers throughout high school because it was required for gym class, most of which I spent “walking around the track” to avoid playing any of the sports.

I owned no sneakers while in college.

My boyfriend when I was 23 bought me a pair of blue Nike’s for my birthday, because I thought they were cute.

Those sneakers lasted me over 10 years, they were used so little.

Sometime in my late 20’s I joined a gym…mostly, I’d hop on an elliptical or attend an aerobics class…sometimes I’d do crunches.

Sometime in my early 30’s I realized I was fat, and needed to do something about it.  Suddenly, physical activity was a must, and I needed to own a pair of sneakers younger than a fourth grader.

But it wasn’t until I was 35 that I re-discovered a love of running I had completely forgotten I’d even ever had until just last week.

Suddenly, I was learning about running gaits, and buying the proper running shoes, and pacing myself, and proper running form.  Suddenly, I was registering for 5ks and challenging myself to go faster, further…push just a little bit harder.

The girl who used to say “I’ll run if someone’s chasing me”, was now chasing that invisible motivator…accomplishment.

Now there is this…

I watch my feet pound the pavement, look up and see the blue sky, inhale, exhale, feel the sweat rivulets down my back…and I smile.  THIS? This is being alive.

The pain, the struggle, the feeling that I may not make it another step, and then pushing through and breaking a barrier to the next hurdle…adding a tenth of a mile…knocking a minute off my time…making it to the top of that hill…there is nothing like it.

I am 36 years old, I am in the best shape of my life, I can do things I never even dreamt I’d want to do, and I am pushing harder and further every day.

I am proud, I am amazed, I am grateful.

I am a runner.