The Pavement Is My Friend

(Artist: Ed Sheeran/song: The City)

Well,  I didn't run the half-marathon that I mentioned in my last post. I trained and I was ready until my back decided that it wasn't. I have three herniated discs that mostly give me no trouble, but for whatever reason, they chose the week of my race to make a comeback. I decided my long-term health was more important than one race.  I was bummed, but very proud that I successfully trained for a half-marathon after almost two years of being side-lined with an injury. The back pain only lasted for a week. What's really important here is that I can run.

Down, but not out.

My relationship with running started late in my life (age 35) and progressed slowly (because I mostly hated it). In 2010, after I lost what I now call the "Turbo Jam 40", I wanted to challenge myself and run in a race. I signed up for a 4-mile race in December of 2010. I had never run in my life, so my only goal was to not walk (and, you know, finish). I finished in 43:27, and I jogged (slowly) the whole time. At the time, that was a huge accomplishment for me. The New York Road Runners Jingle Bell Jog remains my favorite race. You never forget your first...

Before I was Formerly Fat Mom, I was just a dork in a running skort. (I'm still a dork.)

After the test group ended, I was another 20 pounds lighter and ready for more challenges. I trained for my first (and only) half-marathon. Though I didn't realize it at the time, it was during this training period that I became a runner. I knew I had fallen in love with running when I had to quit because a freak - not related to running - accident injured my left ankle in 2013. I became so depressed during the recovery process. Every cancelled race crushed my spirits. Every runner that whizzed past me as I walked my son to school, mocked me. I wanted to be back in the club. Nearly two years and a lot of physical therapy later, I'm back! (I still have limited strength and stamina but that's only because I'm a lousy patient. The secret weakness of physical therapy is that it doesn't work if you don't do it. I've always been a slow learner.)

Recently someone asked me what I like about running. My knee-jerk response was, "Nothing. It sucks." And let's face it, it does suck. It's hard. It hurts sometimes. You get blisters. Toenails fall off. Your sports bra chafes your boobs. Your arms go numb if you clench your fists. It's hard to breathe if it's too cold outside. It's hard to breathe if it's too hot outside. I mean, why would anyone want to run? But here's the thing, I love all of those things I just listed. You know why? Because I'm a bat-shit crazy runner! 

My first lost toenail was a rite-of-passage (middle toe, left foot). Those blisters meant I was going the distance (and that my shoes were too small). The chafing from my sports bra was like a runner's brand (and thankfully, not permanent like my stupid tramp stamp). When my forearms go numb, it's like my upper-body's way of saying, "We're doing it!" (Or, "Please loosen your grip".) When I run in the cold weather, I feel like a total bad ass. When I run in the hot weather, I feel like a total dumb ass. BUT I DO IT ANYWAY, because I love running. I love talking about it with fellow runners, I love social media running apps that allow me to congratulate and be be congratulated by fellow runners, I love training for a race and working towards a goal, I especially love RACE DAY. Whether it's 3 miles or 13, there is no greater reward than crossing the finish line.

I love pushing myself.  I love being outside. I love seeing other runners. I love being part of the tapestry of the city or town I'm running. I love being alone - just my thoughts, my music and my drive. It's free therapy. I laugh, I cry, I sing, I moan, I holler, "wooooo!" when I need to push myself a little harder.  I am an experience seeker.  Every run is an experience for me. The thoughts in my head, the way my body feels, everything and everyone around's all part the experience. 

It's so good to be back!