Friday, October 18, 2013

marathon weekend: why I run

You know how most kids love hanging out on the monkey bars or playing Red Rover at recess? I was different.  As soon as my preschool teacher opened the doors for recess, I was off running.

Literally, running.  It was like releasing a caged animal who had never seen the light of day.  While the normal kids were all playing hopscotch or whatever preschoolers like doing, I was running laps for absolutely no reason.  My mom tells me that my teacher once told her that I was "a future track star."  I'm pretty sure that was her preschool teacher polite way of saying, "please stop giving your child any form of sugar," but there you have it.

Yet despite my natural, nutjob tendencies, until high school, I only played sports with a ball and, you know, a strategy.  As a freshman and sophomore, I ran track... but only to keep in shape for soccer.

But after being cut from the varsity soccer team well after all of the other fall sports had finished try-outs, I was left with two choices: sit the season out or join the only team that didn't have try-outs (cross country).  I decided to run and I ended up loving it.

I take that back.  I actually sort of hated it.  But I was pretty good and ended up getting a scholarship to college for it.

It's hard to describe to someone who hasn't experienced it, but college running is a different way of life.  It's not for those who can't embrace extreme physical discomfort or peeing behind trees, and definitely not for people with sleep on their priorities list.  5:30 AM practices before class and post-class (i.e. prime nap-time) pool sessions really cramp your lazy college student style.

And that's not even including the 3 AM departure times for out-of-state races.  If college running teaches you anything, it's that if you're tired enough, you can sleep anywhere.  Literally... anywhere.

Like vans.

And airports.

And the middle of sidewalks.

And as I'm sure any collegiate athlete can relate, my career had its ups and downs.  I ended up rocking my freshman year, making the all-conference team and being named conference Freshman of the Year, but that spring I came down with a horrible, "bed-ridden for a month" case of mono and subsequently, an even worse case of the Freshman 15.

My sophomore year career was dark times and that's all I will say.

Having a big butt isn't as fun as it sounds, though.  So I knocked it off with the frozen mozzarella sticks and made running my priority.  My goal was to qualify for the national championship race my senior year and I ran with it.  (That was corny.  Don't care.)

I sacrificed many a party and even skipped Halloween that year, but it was totally, 100% worth it.  I am not exaggerating when I say that the feeling after my regional race, knowing that I was going to Spokane, Washington, for the national race, was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life.

I have mixed feelings on the actual race in Spokane.  On one hand, it was really freaking cold and the girls were really freaking fast.

But on the other, I had never been to Washington and it was beautiful, my parents and my grandma from Colorado came to support me, and the experience, although nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, was inspiring.  There's not much more motivating than a group of serious runners all in one place.

But really, that trip is the epitome of why I run.  The feeling of reaching a goal you've set is like an addiction; once you've tried it, you're hooked.  There are a lot of times I get out on a run and think, "This is the worst decision I have ever made; take me home."  But there are also runs when I'm cruising, mind wandering, and genuinely enjoying myself.

But for every good run and every bad run, it's all worth it when you finish that race you never thought you could or you run a time you never thought was possible.  Corny and mushy? Yes.  And I hate a lot of sap as much as next the next person...  but it is what it is.

So that's why I'm running in a marathon this weekend and probably will run many more to come.  Because I'm an addict and inside of me is a little blonde wacko dying to run some laps.

Plus, if I didn't run, this would have never happened:

It's Friday, party people, and I'm off to run a marathon.  See you on the other side!

And in honor of running until your body starts eating itself:

This Friday, I just couldn't choose so I'm linking up with Whitney AND Sarah.  Is that allowed?  I hope so.  The rules didn't say I couldn't.

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