Miles and Smiles

When I joined the cross-country team my freshman year of high school, several unprecedented things occurred. Primarily, and perhaps most surprising, I developed an appreciation for running that’s lasted well beyond high school. Eight years later, I’ve signed up for my first half marathon: The Lake Sammamish Half.

Recently, for reasons I cannot fully explain, running 13.1 miles has seemed like a good idea. I’m sure after two hours of continuous movement, I’ll reconsider this thought process, but for the time being, pushing myself to a limit I’ve never reached is attractive. I’ve got exactly one month to go, and while I’m starting to get excited, I’m also pretty nervous, so to all those long distance runners out there, if you’ve got any tips they’ll be met with gratitude.

This experience has been quite the journey. I think that’s one of the reasons I like the idea of running; what a beautiful metaphor for life. You get out of it what you put in to it, seeing results only if you make the effort to achieve them, there are hills you need to climb, some days are easier, others are more challenging, but in the grand scheme of things you’re moving forward. Often the hardest part of anything is the start, and there is so much to be said for the difference between remaining static in this life or putting your self in motion… the whole concept of running encapsulates this.

Those naysayers who argue logging the miles is practically pointless because you’re haven’t actually gone anywhere, or you start in the exact same place you begin, clearly have not thought it all the way through. Running circles around my neighborhood, starting at my house to arrive back there a half hour or so later, has changed me immensely. In short terms, putting me in a better mood for the day, but also in longer terms. Both mentally and physically. This activity has the unique ability to leave one feeling empowered, clear minded, exhausted, and strengthened almost simultaneously.

The stress and celebration that was senior year left me exhausted and in some of the worst shape I’ve been in, once again, both mentally and physically. Overwhelmed, unemployed, and unable to run 2 miles without feeling as if imminent death was upon me was entirely frustrating coming off of the bittersweet high of graduation. Six months later with what feels like more than enough sweat and tears to last someone a lifetime, I have a reformed mindset, I’m down 20 pounds, and I can not only run over 10 miles, but I can do so comfortably. Most importantly, I feel better. The changes have come quietly and gradually, but in no circumstances would I consider myself to be in the same place as I started.

I’m not, nor do I believe that I will ever be, the stereotyped idea of a “runner,” but in the past couple months I’ve become more comfortable with the idea that if you love to run, regardless of how far you go, how fast you go, or how good you look doing it, it’s okay to say you’re a runner. I’m eager to try something new, go further than I’ve ever gone before, and cross this off of my bucket list feeling proud and accomplished with it’s completion. In one month I am excited to cross the finish line, look back to the place I started, and say “I did it.”

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