After fourteen years, I have finally found myself looking forward to running. Now that I live down town, I have this fantastic running route. For the first time since I started running, I have lost myself in it. Ironically, my first run ever was in Madison in 1994. My friend and I were visiting, and she knew how to jog, so I went with her. I had no idea I could do it. We just kept on going. I believe anyone can run, but you have to enjoy it. I have never enjoyed it. Not until now. For someone who doesn't have an addictive personality (ok, stop laughing, maybe I do), I am addicted to running, but strangely, have always dreaded it.
People have occasionally asked me how I can make myself do it. Once you get into it, if you don't do it, it's a bad day. You feel guilty. Who wants to feel guilty? In 2003, while living in Boston, I decided to train for a marathon. A marathon is 26.2 miles. That is just what it is. I can tell you the whole history of the marathon, if you want to know. There is also a fantastic movie called, "The Spirit of the Marathon," which documents some amateur and some professionals training for the Chicago marathon.
When I reflect on my run in the marathon, I get very emotional. I didn't then, but I do now. In 2007, my sister ran the New York marathon. I flew in to watch her. As I got off the subway, and entered the street, searching for my sister, tears streamed down my face. It was a beautiful moment, all of these people who all experienced the same grueling training, pushing their bodies to do things God did not intend to put us on this planet for. I completely connected with, and understood their feelings. It was also beautiful because there are few times I have ever been surrounded by so many people, in a large city, who have all come together for a joyous event, in a city that was terrorized. I cried a lot that day. I felt for the runners, and I think it was the first time that I ever realized what I had accomplished four years earlier.
When watching the "Spirit of the Marathon," I had the same reaction. I cried and cried. I brought tissues, (which I used, unlike when I saw that awful "Nights in Rodanthe" crap). Some of the people documented said things I could really relate to. These were my top 5 favorite questions, when I was training/post race:
1. Are you running it on Saturday and Sunday?
Yeah you moron, most people try to do 26.2 every day, you didn't know?
2. Oh, a marathon! What is that, 5 miles?
Do you never read or pay attention to the media?
3. Oh a marathon! What is that, 10 miles?
4. Are you going to try to win?
Yes, most first timers beat out the African sponsored elite runners, you didn't know that?
5. What time are you going to be done? I am going to be in town that day and I thought we could meet for lunch? (This was my favorite one)
Oh, you know, this is my first marathon, so I am sure I will be in tip top shape to have lunch with you! How about offering to come watch me, you ding dong!
I could literally not put any weight on my foot after I ran it. Absolutely none. I had to elevate it and ice it, and my knee was all messed up, too. In fact, three weeks before I ran it, I had a sprain, and was told to stop running, if I ever wanted to run in this marathon. Do people really think that after running close to 30 miles, (if they even know how many miles it is,), for the first time, beating out the elite, that I am going to be out and about, wanting to meet up for lunch?
Again, off on a tangent. I get emotional about it. Since I have started my new route, it includes a brief trip through the Capitol Square, then along the lake, then along a bike trail, and finally, through campus. If you want to know this route, let me know, and I will show it to you. After fourteen years of running off and on, I have finally found myself looking forward to this time of introspection.
Going through down town, you can people watch, and admire the Capitol. Once along the water, what's not to love? The bike path always features all sorts of fitness lovers/anti-car people. And my favorite part - the campus. I get to see what is in style, and reminisce about my college days, that I am so reliving right now. I love to see what the girls are up to. I also note kids doing the walk of shame, smoking in their pajamas on the couches of their porches, text messaging, and my favorite: the sorority girls who try to look "bad" but "good." These are the girls who wear really tight sweats, Northface jackets and UGGS. Everything is trendy, but they pretend they are in their sweats. They have heavy eyeliner on, but their hair is pulled back. It's a combo of sweats/designer crap. Should I be wearing that when I am hungover? (By the way, I decided to get rid of my gray hair, finally!)
This route is great. I lose myself in my thoughts, but make sure to "come back" when I hit the campus. I have never before asked myself, "did I already cross that one road?" until I started running in Madison.
I love it so much, I manage to do it on Saturday mornings, usually after boozing it up on Friday nights. This past weekend, I was out until bar time, managed to have that macaroni and cheese slice of pizza I told you about, then got home at 2:52 AM. Set the alarm for 8:00 AM (I like to get to the farmer's market before 10), and hit the pavement like I was a million bucks.
Again, I have Madison to thank for actually making me love running.
And just a quick note of advice, music is KEY! You must have some type of music to listen to when running. When I increased my running to 6 days a week, over 2 years ago, it was because I got an MP3 player, and I have every motivational song you can think of on there.