January 7 , 2014 - “I’m going to go for a run,” I told my husband the other Saturday morning. I don’t know what happened, but after months of thinking about running, feeling envious of people who were running, making plans to go running and then backing out last minute, something finally clicked. I was going to go running, seriously this time. And I did. And it was really hard.
I went to get my running clothes out of my dresser and was surprised when I had to dig them out from the bottom of the drawer.
I went to open the Nike Plus app on my iPhone, but it wasn’t there. I must have never downloaded it when I got a new phone months ago. I downloaded it again and logged in. My mind was eased as I saw the 200-plus miles I had racked up; I even felt a little proud of myself. I’m a runner. I’m badass. I have more than 200 miles to my name, I told myself. But my balloon was quickly deflated when I navigated to the activity screen and saw my last run was in September — of 2012.
There I was with my running clothes on, my tennis shoes tied, my hair pulled back and secured with a specialty headband designed for runners I purchased when I ran my first half-marathon three years ago, my Nike Plus app was open and ready to go. I looked like a runner and was tempted to feel like a one, but I couldn’t escape the disappointing fact I wasn’t a runner like I thought I was.
For months I had deluded myself into believing I was something I wasn’t. It had seemed irrelevant to me that I hadn’t gone for a run in who-knows-how-long. We’ve been busy, I told myself. Moving, work, trips, family stuff; life is crazy. Once it settles down, I’ll start running again. But I’m still a runner. I used to run in races all the time. I used to run the trail by my apartment every day. Yeah, I’m a runner. I’m totally a runner.
You see, in order to be a runner, you have to run. And I hadn’t run in well over a year.
This sad reality was enough to make me want to say, “forget it,” shed my running costume, put on my ill-fitting jeans and start hacking away at my chore list, but I took another look at the 200 miles on my Nike account and figured, what the hell. Something had motivated me to run those miles before and I was hoping the same something would again.
This is really going to suck, I thought as I headed out the door with images of my out-of-shape self running barely 100 yards before collapsing, out of breath, lungs and legs burning. Luckily, my imaginings of how the run would go didn’t turn into reality.
I ran three miles that Saturday (admittedly, with a lot of walking breaks). It was 25 degrees outside and didn’t take long for a sharp, burning pain to get a firm and relentless grip on my lungs. The toes on my left foot began to go numb from the cold and I realized I had been pretty stupid to forget gloves. But the exhilaration that came from my feet pounding the pavement and the cold wind against my face was more than enough to keep me going. As I heard the voice of Nike in my ear telling me I had gone one mile, I thought, if I can go one mile, surely I can go two, and if I can go two, three is only one more.
I can say without a doubt my time running that morning was the best I felt all year. It was a high I hadn’t felt in a long time and I rode it for the rest of the day. The following day I couldn’t stop thinking about running and on Monday I strapped on my tennis shoes and headed out my front door to chase down that high. And you know what? I found it.
So, even though my first run of the year didn’t happen until the last week of the year, I’m no longer disappointed. I am ending 2013 proud to be something I wasn’t when it started — a runner.