finally, a runner

I went for a run yesterday in Carmel on the Monon trail in my new, expensive shoes (see yesterday’s post).  I had anticipated doing about five or six miles and waved goodbye to grandma at 7:40 saying I’d be back in less than hour.

…Ten and a half miles later…

I just didn’t want to stop!  This has never happened to me before.  I mean, I’ve really grown to love running and I’ve had my share of great runs, but I’ve never, EVER, just ‘kept going’ against my better judgement (hello Holly?  you’re wearing brand-new shoes…) for such a distance.  But this was EUPHORIC.  Seriously.  Despite my still paltry amount of sleep, I felt well rested and the weather was beautiful.  The shoes on my feet felt like pillows and I had all sorts of energy.

The Monon trail is about 1.25 miles from grandma and grandpa’s house, so by the time I got there and had done just a couple miles, it would have been time to turn around again.  But it was just so beautiful!  The trees provided almost complete shade, there were tons of people out running and biking and walking their dogs.  I even saw a girl wearing the same purple top as me–I called out “nice shirt” as I went by.  I also started paying attention to the mile markers that were counting down to the start of the Monon.  It was only a couple miles away.  I quickly did the mental math and figured out it would be about 10 if I made it to “0.0.”  So, the competitive side of me came out and I surged ahead, all the while feeling the most amazing runner’s high I’ve ever felt.

And the run just went so fast!  It was a combination of my actual speed and comfort (about 9-minute miles, I think–a pretty easy pace for me) and being so distracted by everything around me.  The quarter-mile markers just whizzed by.  This was especially nice on the way back, as I was starting to get a little antsy that the rest of my family might be worried I was taking so long, or (gasp!) up and breakfasting without me!  I was back to Main Street in Carmel before I knew it, and just had to chug back to the house.  I’ll be honest, the rising temperature and sun coupled with the very slight incline up the road to grandma’s house was enough to slow my pace a little on the last mile, but I still felt drugged I was so happy.  And God must have been smiling on me yesterday, since all I ended up with after a 10-plus mile run in BRAND NEW SHOES was a slight rub under one toe–praise God!

I have considered myself a runner for awhile now.  I started running in high school for fitness, then in college for ROTC, but never more than three miles or so.  My friend, Betsy, and now-husband, Andrew, introduced me to long-distance running and I challenged myself to do more.  Both of them had run cross-country in high school (I hadn’t even known it existed…) and continued running in college.  Before long I could do six miles slowly.  Despite completing a marathon (VERY slowly) my senior year of college, I still didn’t fee like a true runner.  It was still a chore.  Something to check off.

Fast-forward four years: I’ve upped my running, gotten a bit faster and completed another marathon.  I gladly ran at PT before work in the mornings and maybe some Saturdays as well, but I still didn’t LOVE it.

It wasn’t until I got out of the military and met Susy at the gym that I truly began to ‘find myself’ in my running.  She challenged me to go faster and longer than I ever had.  She is the most dedicated runner I’ve ever met.  She faithfully runs six or more miles every day but Saturday, her rest day.  Not that everyone has to follow her formula; I find running every other day works better for me.  She did the math the other day and figured out we’d run more than 2,000 miles together in the last two years…TWO THOUSAND!  Holy cow!  I just wonder how many words that was…

Both becoming a runner and feeling like a runner has been a struggle for me.  I’d been putting in the miles for years, but I hadn’t yet found any joy in it.  Part of that probably has to do with how “easy” running is at any point.  Part of it was my body.  I was a bit of a chubby kid and I’ve never really “looked” like a runner.  Even my dad said so once… that’ll scar you for life.  And no, do I look like the skeletal, fat-less, boob-less (well, that part might be true), muscle-less women in tiny tops and running underwear competing on tracks all over the country?  Not in the least.  But am I a runner?  Yes.

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