Some of these posts were intended to be about actually running, and I have fallen pretty short in that regard. The obvious reason is, that I have not gone running since I don’t remember when! Many true runners would argue that I can’t call myself a runner at this time, but I think that is up for debate. The heart of a runner still beats inside of me, and I know it’s just a matter of time (and knees) before I hit the streets again.
Do you have anything in your life that you wish people knew about you, that defines a part of you, that you take great delight in, that you can’t wait to talk about, that you hope someone brings up in conversation so you can jump in with your experiences? Running is one of those things for me, second only to my relationship with Jesus and my family. Memories of my hours that turned into years of running come back at surprising times: there are some rubber traffic cone holders outside of my son’s school that smell just like an outdoor track. I think of running with schoolmates every time I see the high schoolers practicing, huffing and puffing and straining to be faster with each lap. Sometimes in the “fall” down here, there is a smell in the air that takes me back so vividly to runs through Audubon Park in New Orleans, where I did a lot of long runs to prepare for a marathon. Even my husband has taken up running fairly regularly, and I confess that I’ve felt twinges of envy when he heads out.
Could it be mine again? I’ve tried the whole jogging stroller thing. My daughter either wanted to be held, wanted to walk, or just wanted to go home and have a proper snack and play. That’s not running, it’s mothering amidst great exertion. If I want to do that, all I have to do is go to the store, where she also wants to either walk or be held, and I pull the loaded cart alongside us–it’s cardio and weight-training! Could I go after the kids go to bed? This is the most realistic, but my husband and I have an unspoken arrangement in which he goes to work out at the nearby gym and/or go for a run after the kids’ bedtime. There are workouts I enjoy doing at home, so it’s not like I’m always just sitting on the sofa. It is too late for me by the time he gets back to head out myself, and I also crave that time with him once he’s back. It’s a set-up that works for now, and I know that as frazzled as I get being a stay-at-home mom, my problems don’t hold a candle to the stress he faces at his job. If going to work out at night eases his mind and helps him handle the strain of his career, then I happily give that opportunity to him!
I definitely have the desire to go back to running. No other exercise can raise my endorphins, elevate my mood, strengthen my whole body, clear my mind, or make me feel quite as accomplished as running. I’m not a sprinter; in my strongest days, before my first and only marathon, I could course around the path in the park for hours (and then join my friends for a few hours of ultimate frisbee). Just one more loop. I can do it. I would find myself catching up to high school track teams as a college student, and try to pass them. There was such a thrill in testing my limits, breaking my own records, building my endurance, and just going. I have no problem with being quiet or being alone, so long-distance ventures were a good fit.
I wonder what toll the years have taken. I’m not in college anymore, I’m in my mid-30’s. Playing hard-court tennis since the age of 5 has not left my knees in the best of conditions. Over-training for that marathon didn’t benefit my joints, either. Can I get it back? Can I head out for hours again, letting my mind relax and wander, while my legs settle into that beautiful rhythm? How much longer will it be before I make my re-entry? Am I using this long break from running to get into shape, or will I have to brush some cobwebs off of my muscles?
Just writing about this is making me anticipate my next run even more. I have a feeling I will be essentially starting over, which is both frustrating and humbling, but I’m willing to take a few steps back before bounding forward. Who knows? Maybe the years to come will be the best ones yet! All it will take is those first few steps out the door…