Twenty years ago, my older brother took me on my first “long” run. It was the summer before my freshman year in high school, and I planned to try out for the cross country team. We ran two miles on a dusty road alongside one of the canals near my grandparents’ ranch in California. I remember how proud I felt after that run. I couldn’t believe how far we had gone!
Twelve marathons and numerous half marathons later, two miles now feel like a drop in the bucket. But we all have to start our running journey somewhere. In fact, I often find myself “starting over.” I haven’t run a marathon in a year and a half, and my training looks a lot different now than it did then. While two miles feel like nothing, running 8 miles feels long. I’m still learning to measure my progress from my current fitness level instead of where I used to be.
My marathon PR is 3:38:55, which I ran in December 2016. At the time, I felt so close to finally achieving my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. (The qualifying standard varies based on gender and age. I need to run a 3:35:00 to qualify.)
I’ve tried and failed to qualify so many times that I gave up on that dream. I’ve been focusing on other priorities, like baking and my family. I still run and exercise, but I haven’t felt the urge to run long distances.
The urge is slowly coming back. With every run I feel more and more ready to train again. I’m also feeling more and more like myself. I lost all motivation to exercise earlier this year when we lost two of our cats. Instead, I spent my free time in bed, binge-watching episodes of “Friends.”
With each step I remember why I love running and how important it is to make that time for myself, even when I don’t feel like lacing up my shoes.
Running is the best way to explore a new place. Traveling for races with family and friends is one of my favorite things to do!
Running also makes me feel healthy and strong. And it’s a bond that I share with some of my friends and family. Today, my oldest niece is 14 years old and coming up on her first year in high school. Her dad is the brother who took me on my first “long” run 20 years ago. Natalie is also planning to try out for the cross country team. I am so proud of her already, and I can’t wait to see where her running journey takes her.
As for me, I’m planning to run the Charlotte Marathon in the fall. I’m nowhere near BQ shape, and I don’t know if I will be by then. But that’s okay. I’m excited to get back into shape and to see my progress from where I am now. Running will always be there, no matter my fitness level.
Are you a runner? I’d love to hear about any races you’re training for or the reasons you love to run. Tell me in the comments!