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Ready To Zoom

April 23, 2010

I’ve been running for about twelve years now. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I started running outside (oh, I was a wee gym rat at the time) for a few reasons. I was getting over Things. I thought the fresh air would help. I realized I couldn’t answer my cell phone/drive anywhere/do anything for anyone else while I Ran Outside. This was a big deal. It was me, taking a stand. Making a point.

I found a little track near my little apartment, and I ran around it. Once. Exactly once. Lungs burning, legs in searing pain. Face turning crimson, gasping for sweet air. I watched others (while I bent over and wheezed) run around and around, so fluidly and with such ease. Surely, I had just run a MILE! I must have. I was running so long, I was so tired. Then, I looked down and noticed the small, spray-painted chart on the gravel. “1 Lap = .33 miles”.

I walked home after that, wondering about runners. How did they do it? I could go to the gym for hours, but one lap around this little track rendered me nearly dead.

I kept at it, though. Running junk miles for the next 7 years. I never considered myself a runner. I never paid attention to speed, or training tips, or getting properly fitted for shoes. I just wanted to run 1 mile. Then, 2 miles. Then 3. When I got to 5, I just stopped. I ran in laceless slip-on fashion sneakers, up and down the length of the beach. Back and forth, until I reached 5 miles. Then I was done.

In 2006, having only run a maximum of 5 miles, a former co-worker sent out a email. Did anyone want to run the Boston Marathon this year? Could anyone? A charity organization had a bib number and needed someone to take it, and there were 8 weeks to go until race day. Eight weeks.

I said yes.

I researched marathon training at warp speed. I ran and ran and ran. Got in a maximum of 15 miles in before Marathon Monday. I went to the convention and got my packet. I felt like I was part of something amazing. There was something very transforming about that weekend. Running made me feel free. It was hard, and there were no shortcuts. I couldn’t shake the feeling though, that I hadn’t worked very hard to get there. These runners around me had put years of hard work and sweat and tears into training. Me? Eight weeks of half-baked ideas I’d read on random websites.

Mile 18 really croaked me. At 18.9 I was done. Not my proudest moment. I felt victorious at having run (trot?) so far, but lousy walking away with a DNF (did not finish).

Not to be crushed by such a disappointment, I spent two years running races – half-marathons, marathons – and logging lots of miles. In 2008, I ran Boston again. I cried when I saw the crowds. I cried when I saw the finish line. When I saw my family. I cried mainly for myself, for the culmination of this moment. I’d thought about it daily for two years. And there it was, ready for me to grab it.

Training and races held a sort of allure for me. I liked it. A lot. I liked the structure, the time you needed to devote to this sport, talking to other runners, buying gear – all of it.

But things changed for me when I met my husband. Where was I running to, all the time? I couldn’t figure it out. I felt worried it was cutting into our life – this thing that WAS my life. My time with him was so precious and I didn’t want to run away.

So, you can imagine my joy when Michael wanted to get fitted for sneakers and join me.

In a month’s time, he moved from casual runner to long distance runner. He talks about training, races and where we’ll run next. I laugh a lot when I run with him. We talk and talk and talk, and run up hills and laugh more. This man I love and this sport I love are in one place. I tell him all the mistakes I made when I started running, and laugh at myself. What a zoo it all was.   How wonderful it is now.

Our partnership has always been nothing short of amazing, but adding running to it has added a new dimension. Being able to share this with someone I love so much has changed the way I feel about it (less militant, more fun).

I feel ready to zoom. Adventures await!

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