The first 20.
It just occurred to me that a very daunting and powerful anniversary is coming my way. It is almost my 20th anniversary with my love affair for running. Twenty. This is sort of overwhelming not only because I cannot believe I am old enough to have done anything for 20 years, but because I am not faster after TWENTY years of running. Granted there were some…. slower months scattered in there (say the last months of pregnancy) but all in all I have been able to call myself a runner for almost 2/3 of my life. (Almost.. almost… i still have a few months left of my twenties people, I am not submitting to the dirty thirty till its due time). I can tell you this accomplishment actually does mean something to me though. It makes me remember I am strong. Especially on those days when I feel blue in the face from the exhaustion of raising toddlers.
After all these years I think I am finally comfortable in my running shoes. I have run long enough to not feel the need to wear the latest or the greatest gear, and I have run long enough to know (at my speed at least) it isn’t really necessary anyway. I have run long enough to know the days you feel like going the least are the days you will have the best results. I know the hardest part about running is putting your running clothes on. I know non-runners think us runners are crazy, and I like that. I like being crazy. It feels good.
In my first years running, middle school oh middle school, my main concern was winning. And it was probably the only time I did this too. Even as the high school years hit my ambition to be the first to cross the finish line dwindled substantially. Of course, as a runner it always lingers, but now it’s stored more as a wishful hope like winning the lottery or finding a four leaf clover. Something that just happens. As my teenage years progressed and into my twenties I am sure, truth be told, I liked running because it gave me those killer calves and a flat stomach. And yes, this is a mice side effect of running, but more importantly my mental health was kept in check in my mid twenties and now my late (very late!) twenties as a result of stepping outdoors with my sneakers laced up.
I have run in mountains, high up in the peaks. I have run in the desert, in hundred degree plus weather. I have run in the snow, on ice, in hail, in rain. I have run through giant puddles. I have run directly into the ocean, and even right off the end of a pier. I have run barefoot, I have run in brand new “fancy” running shoes. I have run in costume. I have run in honor of someone. I have run talking. I have run in silence. I have run crying and I have run laughing. I have run with toilet paper stuffed in my pocket, I have run wishing I had toilet paper stuffed in my pocket. I have run through injury. I have run at 35 weeks pregnant my big belly swaying to the rhythm of Franti while I went down the middle of the street. I have run pushing strollers, strollers filled with 60+ pounds of chatting boys. I have run with dates in my pockets and gummy bears in my sleeves. I have run alongside my biggest hero while she finished a long sought after marathon. I have run with friends I miss, and friends I love, and family that loves me, and I believe I have shared the joy of running with all of them.
This all came to my attention on a run two Sundays ago up a giant hill behind my house. My mother gave me a new running shirt, one which thoroughly confused me. Most fashion does it turns out. (Especially eyebrows? Really there are ins and outs? I only know because I was informed big slug brows are in! Sweet! I am finally cool!) Anyways, this shirt has a little draw string along the bottom that you can cinch high or low. I pondered why this little rope was there, but didn’t argue. I slipped it over my head cinched it to the middle and headed out. I soon found out it was in fact the ideal shirt for me. While I am sure this little tank draw string is just a decoration, its purpose became clear to me within the first few minutes of my run. As I stooped to pluck a wildflower that looked unfamiliar to me and place it in my waistband as I usually do, I paused. So far a sweaty palm or the waistband of my shorts has proved to be an inconvenience and detrimental to the delicate petals of the flowers I would be bringing home. But this shirt, this shirt has exactly what I needed. A little pouch created by the drawstring. Perfection. I carefully tucked it into the given pouch of my shirt and kept on going. I ended my run with a belly full of wildflowers, none of which I could figure out their identity, but that is besides the point.
I would say only a seasoned runner such as myself would feel confident in such a feat.