Friday, May 6, 2011

A Mile Closer to a Better Me

Or, why I started running and why I love it so much.

I was never an athletic person. P.E. was my least favorite class all throughout elementary, middle, and high school, and the worst quarterly test I could possibly take was always the mile run. I averaged about 10:00 to 10:30 every time; it was not the fastest time nor was it the slowest, but it was not something I was particularly proud of, either. Not to mention that it hurt to run further than half a mile!

During my last half of high school and through college, I joined a then Division I (now World Class) DCI drum and bugle corps, where running was part of our daily training and warm-up. It was also our punishment if we screwed up. I still hated running, but during the off-season I made it a point to try to make it out for a run as often as I could to prepare for the upcoming summers so that the running aspect would not be so terrible. This resulted in running a mile, sometimes two, once a week. It was, of course, not nearly enough.

I aged-out in the summer of 2008, but it took me until January of 2009 for me to realize that if I didn't want to do the "age out and get fat" thing, I needed to get back into running. Fortunately, my roommate, who had runner parents, made a New Year's resolution to run more and came back from winter break with a beginner's running plan from Runner's World for the both of us to do. I managed to keep up with it, and by the end of the spring semester I had signed up for my first 5K.

At that 5K, I not only managed to do a lot better than I was expecting (29'23"), but I qualified for one of the first waves of the Bolder Boulder 10K. Terrified of the notion of running 6.2 miles, I hesitated until one of my good friends signed up. I'm so glad I did that, because it was after finishing that race did I finally, at least, feel like a runner. A couple of months later, I ran a mile race and finished in a time I never thought I would see: 8'13"!

I trained that entire summer with only one goal in mind: run 10 miles before the fall semester started, which I passed with flying colors. As a testament to this, I signed up and ran the half marathon portion of the Denver Marathon, which would become the Denver Rock and Roll the following year. It was a celebration of how far I had come. I finished it in 2:21:00, which was, again, a lot better than I expected!

Unfortunately, that was all I have to say for myself after that. I became superbly busy with school (senior year, after all) and was barely eating or sleeping, which are not helpful conditions to wanting to work out and run. I tried a few times to go out, but it was really hard, even after graduating! It wasn't until I started my current job and signed up for a marathon when I started to really get into it again. Trust me, if I ever feel like not running, reminding myself of a big, long distance race coming up is enough to get my butt out the door!

Those above race times are my PRs for a 5K, 10K, and half marathon, and I so badly would love to break those. With my weight loss, intensive speed training, and my focus on muscle strengthening, this should not be a problem, in theory.

But why do I love running?

Running keeps me healthy.
Running is my source of meditation.
I can freely daydream guilt-free during a run.
I always feel good about myself after a run.
Running is my anti-depressant.
Running is fun.
I feel like I'm a part of something whenever I see other people running or talking about running.
Being a runner is something that I am proud of.
Running gives me a sense or purpose.
I am a better person because of running.

And I am not going to give this up for anything.

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