It began as a bet. Under the mentorship of the amazing Mama L of East Bay Team in Training, my fabulous best friend had recently earned her first half-marathon medal. At the time, I didn’t run (ok that one time in college at the Q-Dogs party when someone shouted that there was a gun; I ran then), not since high school PE. In fact, I barely passed high school PE. I always had a twisted ankle, an infected bug bite, or cramps. Nevertheless, I had signed up for a fitness boot camp. My best friend pointed out that I would likely run at each workout. I complained that I’d likely strain my bad ankle. So she bet me I would survive without injury and that if I did, I would run alongside her at the inaugural Rock N’ Roll San Jose Half-Marathon. Fine, I said.
It wasn’t fine. It was miserable. I could deal with everything but the running. I hated every second of it. The sweat. The breathing. The impact of my feet on cement. How damn slow I was. But I never got hurt. So I joined my best friend at the San Leandro Marina for my first training run with Mama L. She helped me adjust my posture and my stride. She taught me how to breathe while running (3 inhales through the nose, 1 exhale from the mouth). She was easily the most positive person I had met, full of insightful advice about life as a whole. Despite the physical challenge, I found myself motivated by the mental training. So I committed.
In the eight and a half years I have been a runner, my commitment has never wavered. I’ve had to drop out of races at least three times, twice because of tendonitis in my bad ankle (see I wasn’t whining) and once due to my long recovery from surgery. But as soon as my body felt ready, I was back out on the asphalt and the trail. Running has become such a part of me. It is my time to meditate, to celebrate, and to just be. I owe my best friend and my running coach many thanks.
Those first two miles are never going to be exhilarating. I will probably never get much faster. I may never look like a runner. But I run.
* Today marks my fifteenth half-marathon!