As the start time of the NYC Marathon approaches, I’ve been reflecting on what running has meant to me so far in my life. Running and I didn’t get along a first. In fact, I’d sworn to never call or text Running again when I first put feet to the pavement. To this day, I’m not quite sure when Running won me over, but I’m sure it was somewhere between the hours of 4 to 6am, the hours that have become sacred to the sport.
*Record scratch* So how did I get here?
I didn’t run track in middle school. Freshman year of high school, I did not even consider the sport. In fact, I didn’t play any high school sports my freshman year. To me, running was a by-product of the time spent on the soccer field for the Mason-Dixon league (the recreation league in the area). I didn’t mind chasing a ball, but I wasn’t going to run if it wasn’t for the soccer ball.
All my friends were playing high school ball, and I didn’t want to graduate high school not having that camaraderie. So, the Summer of 2010 I started to heave my way through a few laps around the block. I was focused on mile time, not distance. I wanted to be just good enough at running to make the cut.
Of course, high school soccer involves significantly more running. At this point, Running and I were seeing each other regularly. I would say there was a shared respect in our relationship, but I definitely gave Running a hard side-eye every now and then. Alas, our courtship continued.
Freshman year of college, Running became my morning ritual. I would wake up around 6:30 and trudge my way to the (then brand-new) Student Rec Center*. I ascended the stairs to the second floor, climbed aboard the second-to-last treadmill on the first row, and sweat out 7 miles of beautiful freshman year anxiety and dismay. If you’ve ever been to the WCU Rec Center, you may notice the words carved into the front lobby’s stone wall… if you ever want to pass the time during cardio, just read those words over and over again. (To be honest, I thought I'd remember those words better than I am at the moment of writing this.)
Running and I kept at it. I personally enjoyed the company of Running, because it gave me a great excuse to not partake in normal college nightlife. Of course, it also kept my emotions in check, AND was a great way to learn my way around the town of West Chester, PA. Through sophomore, Running took me to Bethany Beach for a Triathlon, where I met Swimming and did not envy anyone who had to court such a devilish companion, and Cycling, which was fun but far more high-maintenance than Running.
Junior year, Running thought it was time to spice things up, so we started meeting at 5:30 in the morning to make room in the day for a busy class schedule and three part-time jobs. (Don’t worry, the workload became two jobs very quickly.) Nonetheless, Running and I were now very fond of one another. Such harmony has remained since those cold mornings in the Winter of 2014. So much so, that I told Running we’d knock out a quick 26.2 around West Chester before my 22nd birthday. It was not quick, nor as fun as it once sounded. The route was comprised of 15 some laps around North Campus, and everything after that is a blur because I was so tired of circles.
Running met me the morning of Graduation, and we said our thank-you’s to the streets that made college so fun, so freeing. Running showed me the greatest parts of Seattle, WA late in 2016. Through Green Lake and the Lake Union Trails, inside and out of Downtown and Capital Hill. Through my first official marathon, where I watched a sea of people take over the streets of such an incredible city. Running showed me countless communities and tireless people. I have never been more inspired to wake up and try every day. Every single day. There is something about the sport that turns you towards yourself and, at first, whispers, “I dare you." Slowly those dares turn into, “You can’t” or “You Won’t”, but with every run you roar back, “I will" or “I did” and eventually, “I am.”
So at the end of 2016, when I sat in the apartment on 527 Eastlake Ave E, Seattle, WA 98109 and listened to the New Year's Eve festivities, I decided 2017 was a great year to give back to Running when Running gave so much to me. I pledged to raise $2,620 to support programs that teach kids discipline, give them an outlet and build their confidence through NYRR Team for Kids. With some incredible folks behind me, that money was raised and in just three days the NYC Marathon will be underway. There will be so many eyes looking towards the finish line, myself included. But right now, I can't help but look back.
Running has taken me so far. Shown me so much of the world, and of my power.
If you are looking for a reason, any reason at all, to keep going.
Go for a run.
* This would be 10am on Saturdays and Sundays, because the SRC has some whack weekend hours.