16 hours ago
Sunday, June 14, 2009
People ask me all the time why I run, and I usually say something like, "So I can eat whatever I want," or because it's an effective way to handle stress, and these are true -- it's great to have a milkshake and fries and not think twice -- but the real, deep-down, dark reason is because it makes me feel awesome. Not awesome physically (because I'm seriously stiff today), but like I can do anything. It's exhilarating to travel miles and miles with only my feet and legs and muscles.
I like to challenge myself. Learning new skills, like knitting and sewing, is like running hills. It's hard, especially at first, but you get used to it and soon you're in better shape and ready to tackle something steeper or higher. When my husband left for Afghanistan, I decided to do a 15-mile run before he got back. At the time, 4 or 5 miles was about all I could gasp out.
I tried to hit 15 a couple of weeks ago, and made it just past 11 miles and couldn't go any farther. This weekend, I gave it another shot. I knew I was going to make it from the minute I laced up my shoes and hit the sidewalk. The first 3 miles I took it slow, letting Daisy set the pace since running in Texas in June wearing a fur coat isn't exactly easy. I dropped her off at home and grabbed a swallow of water, and by mile 4 I was grinning. Around the sixth mile, the Rocky theme started playing faintly in my head, and I lost track of my body. I was moving over the streets without effort, just my mind flying along as I ate up the pavement. This was awesome. By the time I'd gone 10 miles, I knew without doubt I'd hit my goal, but I was definitely aware of my legs again. And my knees, and my feet. And my lungs. But although I was tired, I was also aware of a core of energy inside that I knew would push me through to the end.
When I finished and walked down my street in my socks, carrying my shoes, I reveled in the feeling of meeting a challenging goal. I did it, and because I did it, I could do anything. But I did it in small pieces, slowly building a mile at a time, holding back and perfecting one skill when I wanted to overreach. I also did it with the support of friends -- other runners who pushed me and asked me to push them. It sounds cheesy, but I know that's how I can get tackle anything, from figuring out a difficult stitch to surviving a year with my husband in a war zone. A mile at a time, with friends along the way.