Hey! A post about running! I know it is everyone's favorite, right? Here is the deal: Yesterday, I ran 9.3 miles. Much of it uphill (for the Portlanders, I ran up to OHSU and back! No joke). In the freezing cold. In the rain.
It is like the opposite of what I normally do. I love me some comfort: reading books on a couch with a cozy blanket, drinking a french press while listening to french music, dreamily pinning crafts I will never actually tackle on my computer. I am about as non-competitive as a person can get. I have never been athletic. I have never even liked being outdoors all that much.
Enter the last year. A year where being a wife/mom/teacher/writer/sister/daughter/friend seemed to have me floundering for my own time. Running was the only way to get 30-40 minutes alone with my own thoughts (and God, too). I ran out of anger, frustration, disappointment, tiredness, and stress. And it totally worked.
That is the only reason I can come up with for how I found myself exercising consistently for the first time since I was 12. I needed it. I have been running outside now for a year. I went from jogging for 2-3 minutes to running for and hour and a half.
This 15k was a birthday present to myself. As me and my friend J started the long run up to OHSU somewhere in mile 4, I started listening to Vesuvius by Sufjan (warning: cheesy moment alert). And I felt like this was a literal mountain/volcano that I needed to conquer. Everything all those athletic people had been spouting for all those years was finally making sense. Work hard, believe in yourselves, don't give up. I needed to conquer my mountain.
And I did. I was thrilled to find my time was a minute behind the average finish. I am average! I had never before felt so happy to hear those words. And I probably won't be happy to hear them in any context besides physical strength.
The race itself was no cakewalk, and I would not describe it as fun (although, I have been rather poor at training). There were 30,000 people there, which I did not understand until we were packed like cattle into the starting gate and almost had a panic attack. Have you ever run with thousands of people? It is super weird. I couldn't have stopped even if I wanted to. Also, it was freezing cold (they forecasted snow) and started raining several miles into it. By the end, I was soaking wet from the rain. It took me an hour to realize just how bone-deep cold I was, mostly because my friends pointed out my lips were blue. And they stayed that way until I took a nice, long bath.
It was a good start to my 28th year. A good reminder to challenge myself, to push myself, and then to allow the satisfaction of completion. Running is so tangible. And sometimes, that is just what you need.