It is the end of week 2 of my 12 weeks training plan, and I just finished my "long" run of the week-4 miles. And it was INCREDIBLE. Not fast-it was actually slower than my long run of the same distance last week-but it was the way I felt during the run. I have never felt so strong, so free, or so in tune with myself as I did tonight. I'm not sure what combination of factors led to this, but there were several things that were different than my usual runs. This is the first time I've run in the evening. My first run in my new shoes. I tired a couple of Clif Shots Blocks before my run. Whatever it was, I want it to feel like this every time I run, because generally, I feel like crap during a run. I'm hot, sweating, it hurts, I'm gasping for air, and I probably flop around when I run like a fish out of water being chased by sea gulls.
So during my amazing run tonight, I thought mostly about why I'm doing this. Why am I training for my first half-marathon now, at this point in my life. To answer that, I guess I need to explain why I started running in the first place. Even though there have been periods in my life when I've done some running before, for the purpose of this blog, I consider the time I started running to be after my daughter (A) was born in October 2009. Initially, I honestly only started running because most of my friends were doing it, and I need to lose a lot of weight. I started when A was about 3 weeks old. Probably a little too early, but I think I was still riding the intense sense of accomplishment and empowerment I got from having a completely natural delivery and an amazingly quick and easy recovery. I started out walking with short bursts of "running" scattered in. Oh, keep in mind, I did all of this while pushing a double jogging stroller and often with my two large dogs in tow. At first, I could barely manage to run 30 seconds. But I gradually pushed myself to run a little farther, a little longer each time out, and before I knew it, I was running 2 miles without stopping for the first time in many, MANY years.
At first, I dreaded running. To be honest, I still get nervous before every run. I think a part of me will always be afraid that I just won't be able to do it. But I found myself pushing my body and mind farther than I thought, and I started to accept that I'm stronger than I ever give myself credit for. I'll never forget the first time I ran Ford Island Bridge-WITH that damn granite desk of a stroller. I felt like I might die, but I also felt so strong, so capable. Then I did my first 5K race. I finished dead last. No joke. They were picking up the course cones behind me as I passed. But I finished. I ran the whole thing while pushing my girls in the stroller, and I EARNED that t-shirt. After that, I was hooked. I have done 2 10K races since then. My first was the Kapiolani Women's 10K, and I ran it with 3 of the best friends a girl could ask for. It was another amazing experience.
This is all part of why I run. It's something my friends and I all have in common, even though we don't run together because they are all faster than me. I'm slowly becoming ok with that. I'm starting to understand that my runs are for me, and me alone. While my husband was deployed and I was struggling to handle a newborn, a 2.5 year old, 2 dogs, and a house, I ran for my mental health as well as my physical health. Running helps me clear my mind and focus. I've gone from hating it but doing it because I felt like I had to, to doing it because I want to. I'm starting to look forward to my longer runs. When I'm not running, I find myself thinking about running, and when I pass people running when I'm in the car, I wish I were out there too. It's a weird transition, but I'm enjoying it. And I am DEFINITELY looking forward to more incredible runs like tonight!