I’ve been a runner for almost 20 years.
Seriously, I just said almost 20 years. I’m a month shy of my 32nd birthday, so you do the math.
Of course, I’m not saying that’s the first time I ever ran, but the first time I felt the “running bug” and began doing it outside of P.E. in school. In high school, I’d go for a run to relax after coming home from school or cheerleading practice before tackling my homework for the evening. In college, I’d run between classes, after class or when I was really procrastinating and not wanting to study. I remember one time when I went on two runs in one day (only a few hours apart) because I had so much studying that I didn’t want to do and thought running would be a better way to spend my time. In grad school I found that I didn’t have much time to run during the year, but I’d always find my way back to it in the summer when I’d be bored and broke. At that point in my life, running was my cheap entertainment.
As an adult, I go through phases. I’ll go for months at a time without going for a run, but once I get the motivation to put my shoes on and go, I always begin to wonder why it had been so long since my last run. It’s something that’s really gotten into my core and has become a part of me, as silly as that may sound to some people. I love the wind in my face, music in my ears and the feeling I have after a great, long run. I love that it’s also a way to stay fit without having to pay for an expensive gym membership or equipment. It’s just you and your shoes.
Running is also more than just exercise to me; it’s one of the many things my dad and I do together. It has become a father-daughter tradition that we run the Bay to Breakers each year. The race takes place the 3rd Sunday in May and this past month we ran our 11th one together. Up until 2009, it was a race we also did with my uncle Javi. He passed away from cancer in late 2010 and wasn’t able to run due to his treatment the last two times it was held while he was with us. Those two years he had to sit out, my dad and I would visit him the day before the race and the three of us would talk about all of the fun times we had running together. The first race after his passing, my dad and I wore shirts with a picture of him running on it to honor him and our tradition.
In November 2009, I ran my first half marathon. I trained pretty hard for it and had such an inexplicable sense of accomplishment at the end and since then I’ve run three more. It’s funny because I’ve had the same feelings before and after every single one – as I’m waiting to begin, I’m cold, tired and am really questioning why I wanted to get up so early and run so far AND why I paid a good chunk of money to do it. During the race, I forget about all of that and get into my groove and then afterward no matter how much my body hurts, I’m on such a high that I immediately think ahead to the next race I want to sign up for. It’s so crazy because before each half I tell myself that I won’t go through it all again, but something always brings me back.
I didn’t realize how important running was to me until a few years back when I was diagnosed with runner’s knee. I was at work when I noticed my right knee was about three times its normal size. I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t put any weight on my right leg. One of my co-workers took me to Urgent Care where a physician told me that I had arthritis and should never run again. Right after he left the room, I started crying. My thoughts jumped straight to the Bay to Breakers, my dad and how I could go the rest of my life without doing something that brought me such strength, joy and confidence. After some x-rays it turned out I didn’t have arthritis (thanks, Urgent Care doc for jumping the gun on that diagnosis), but runner’s knee. It’s nothing serious at this point, but flare ups can happen at any time and the treatment is a lot of rest, ice and strengthening exercises.
I’ve come to know a lot of people who absolutely detest running. They always ask my why I love it, but it’s never something that I’ve really tried to put into words before now. Besides all of the reasons I just put down, here are some others for why I love it…
I love the control I have over my own body when I run.
I love that even though it can be painful, it makes me feel great.
I love that if I’m having a bad day, I can put on my running shoes and hit the open road and all of my troubles can seem to dissipate and I begin to think about and take in all of the beauty that surrounds me.
This morning I got up early because I was so excited to cross something off my summer bucket list and cheer on the runners of the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll half and full marathon. I’ve always appreciated the strangers who line the street of every race I’ve taken part it and today I wanted to return the favor. I was so glad I had the honor of seeing the fastest man and woman to finish the race run by me and cheer them on. Congrats to all of those who finished today on a job well done!
Are you a runner? Why do you love running?
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