I Am A Runner Because I Run

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On a run in the morning. Willows over a dewy, manicured lawn.

I like to start new things as evidenced by this blog which I started not too long ago and then let sit idle for some time.  It’s just who I am; I like trying and learning new things and am often unimpressed, overwhelmed, or spread too thinly amongst all my interests to continue committing to my newest endeavor.  It’s a side-effect of being a complex gal but never something I feel whole-heartedly good about.  I’d like to be a person who can find an interest and be devoted to doing it the very best that I can and develop it into an extraordinary facet of my life.  I think my pursuit of becoming a better -me- keeps me reflective of who I am and what I’ve done and keeps me striving to expand my current horizon.

My newest endeavor is to become healthier.  A noble pursuit for anyone and one I try constantly so that in itself is not really so new, but the way by which I hope to achieve it is: I’m becoming a runner.  This may not seem unusual, interesting, or pivotal to many, but if you knew how much I have disliked running my entire life, well, you’d understand why it’s worthy of a lengthy, soul-searching blog post!

I ran as a child; the obligatory laps for P.E. class at school, for school sports training for my softball and basketball teams, and even for the soccer games I occasionally liked to participate in.  I hated all of it.  Loathed it.  But don’t misunderstand my disdain for it to mean that I was not good at it.  I joined the “Mile Club” in elementary school at South Morrison in Newport News, Virginia at the behest of my P.E. teacher and a wonderful woman who I looked up to, Mrs. VonOlen, who thought I’d enjoy it and be good at it.   I have never really liked showing any weakness or fault and I definitely have always seen someone who did not like running to be “lazy, fat, and sad”.  The first thing that comes to mind when I hear that someone does not like running is the exact opposite: a couch potato.  It’s like there’s no middle ground.  And since I, myself, fell into the “I hate running” category, I was also putting myself into the “couch potato” one.  Self-loathing– that will be a recurring theme I’m sure.  So because I was fighting my self-image of being a “couch potato”, I joined the Mile Club, got the T-shirt for it and ran a mile one day every week with the rest of the club.  I felt special because I got to wear the T-shirt and get out of class while we ran.  I smiled as I ran and was usually one of the first to finish.  Because like Ricky Bobby says in Talladega Nights, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”  Being last was just not an option for striving-to-be-perfect me.  So I had to be first at everything even if I hated it.

A cheesy smile plus blinking equals a pained expression.

And that was only elementary school! I continued to hate running without fail, but I did it and was pretty good at making people think I enjoyed it and was good at it.  Because liking running was almost as important at being good at it.  I have very vivid memories of running around the track and ball-fields in agony and anguish but pushing through it so I could finish at the front of the pack and look like the winner I didn’t feel like inside.  And so as an adult in the (hopefully) middle of my life, I can look back and see that while it was healthy to run and to be determined and dedicated to do things that were good for me even if I didn’t like them, I acknowledge that I don’t have to like running or be good at it to not be a couch potato.  However, the inner, self-deprecating voice in my being wants to fix this life-long “flaw” and try running again (and like it!).  I’m giving it another shot.  Who knows? I might just take to it this time.

I like the idea of running:  no equipment required, do it anywhere, see things you might not see otherwise, and the freeing feeling of the elusive Runner’s High.
But then there’s all the things that I detest: the sweat, the foot pain, the jarring ta-ta’s, the itchy skin, the jiggling fat, the taste of copper, the headache, the painful breathing.  In winter my extremities are cold and my face hurts from the wind, my eyes tearing and stinging so badly that I can’t see.  The rest of the year I feel overheated and winded and utterly embarrassed that I just can’t run with any grace whatsoever.

A gaggle of geese by Piedmont Farm pond.

Hubby bought a pair of running shoes for me Saturday night and I’ve run every morning since. Yes, all two of them!  I did my research and found a good pair on sale.  I’m giving them a week to see if they can magically make me a runner.  If not, they’re going back.  So far, so good. Two days and three miles and I’m not dead.  Granted that I probably only ran about .5 miles out of the three, but it’s a start.

I even “ran” into a neighbor who I haven’t seen in over six months!  There are only about ten houses in a 2 mile radius, so that’s saying something!  He has a Christmas Tree farm called Elysium Tree Farm about a mile down the road and he lives across from it.  Hubby and I met him before we even moved into this place.  It was right at Christmastime and Hubby was going to get a tree for the new house even if it was a little late, but he was just too busy getting other things done for the move so it never happened, but it was so nice meeting a friendly neighbor in a new place.  Of course, when I ran into him this morning as he was on a walk of his own and apparently picking up trash for his Adopt a Highway segment of our road, I am sure I looked ghastly and I was a bit embarrassed when I thought about it later.

The views on the path I have chosen to take while I’m easing into this new activity are beautiful and inspiring.  I stopped to take a few pictures on the way because our corner of the world here is just so beautiful! I want to capture it to remember it forever!  Perhaps my love of photography and nature will be a constant motivator and will help this try be successful.  Perhaps I will fail to become a “runner”.  But I will not fail to run!

Country road running in the morn.  Clarks Mountain Road.

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