Back in October of 2010, my friend Amanda signed me up to run the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure as my birthday present. That was my first 5K ever. I ran it with no training whatsoever, aside from my five-times-a-week gym sessions. About half way through the race I felt, for a fleeting moment, the famous “runner’s high” I had heard so much about. It felt so good and for that tiny moment I felt I could keep running forever! In that moment, I was hooked, and thus began began my newfound love for running.
|Amanda and I, prerace. Race for the Cure, October 2010|
What I did not love, however, was running. I hated it, actually. I’ll never forget the first time I ran three miles. It was in the middle of volleyball season my junior year in high school and my volleyball/basketball coach decided to have us run in a Cross-country meet. Being that I was from a very small town (we’re talking one stoplight, here!) there wasn’t exactly a plethora of athletes to choose from. So what she did was take her volleyball team, suit us up and made us run in the meet. The meet was on Saturday and so the Wednesday before that she took us out on a “practice run”. She loaded all nine of us into the back of her truck, drove us three miles out into the back roads in the middle of the surrounding fields, and dropped us off. We knew it was either run back or be stuck out there in the middle of nowhere! Despite the fact that I had NEVER run three miles before, and neither had most of my teammates, I managed to finally make my way all the way back at the school. When I got there she handed me my uniform for the upcoming meet.
That Saturday we ran in the Cross Country meet and, having just recuperated from my second ACL surgery, I was forced to wear both of my giant knee braces. The entire time I was running, my knee braces rubbed together where the joints hinged and occasionally caught and got stuck together. Somehow I managed not to trip and fall and finished the race anyway. The whole time I was running I could hear the on-lookers. Most of them were cheering me on, but some were teasing me, calling me names like “Bionic Woman” because of the metal around ¾ of my legs.
This was nothing new; I was used to nicknames like this and didn’t let it bother me. I just kept running and concentrated on finishing the race. Eventually I did, and I came in – are you ready for this – last. Dead. Last. I was embarrassed - humiliated, really, because I was really good in basketball but horrible at this. I was exhausted but I was finished and relieved to have that horrible experience over with.
As you can probably tell, that memory has stayed with me all these years. That happened almost 20 years ago. Yet I can recall it with such vividness that I can describe it as if it happened yesterday. I guess you could almost say I was a little traumatized. Why is it that in life it’s the painful things that stick with us the longest?
This is WHY I RUN. I run because I can.
I run because I don’t have to wear two giant knee braces and my legs are better than ever. I run to forget all those nicknames that people used to call me. I run to show myself that I can keep going…for 13.1 miles, even…and not quit, no matter what, just like I didn’t that day. I run because I remember the days when I hated it…and bask in the knowledge that I ACTUALLY ENJOY IT NOW! I run to remind myself that it is a PRIVILEDGE to get run, because there are so many people in this world who couldn’t, even if they wanted to. And most importantly, I run…every single day…to prove to myself that although I may not be the fastest runner in the world, I am steady and have stamina and I WILL FINISH, and I WILL NOT come in dead last. Ever. Again.
This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “I run because I can,” doesn’t it?