On Sunday, one of my favorite bloggers, Laura, shared my running story in her Purposeful Running Series! I am touched by the sweet comments on the post, both by readers and bloggers that I know and those who I don’t. For those of you who didn’t see it, I thought I would share it with you!
I had the good fortune of meeting Laura in Houston in January at the Olympic Trials. I immediately liked her and for anyone who hasn’t been lucky enough to meet her in person, she is absolutely just as sweet and kind as she appears on her blog!
I had two thoughts when Laura first announced that she was going to start a Purposeful Running series on her blog. First, I thought it was a great idea and I have truly enjoyed reading the stories from some very amazing and inspiring women. The other thought I had was that it would be fun to participate in this, but I don’t have a good story to tell. I didn’t (and still don’t) see my reasons for running to be nearly as inspiring as some of the other women that Laura has featured.
So when Laura emailed me and asked if I would like to participate, I had to think about it before committing. I finally concluded that even though I don’t see my personal motivation as inspiring to others, I still have my reasons for running and a story to tell.
So here we go…
For as long as I can remember, I have always been an athlete. I played just about every sport out there before finally settling on volleyball, softball and swimming in high school. My junior and senior year, I played competitive softball year-round and went on to play Division I softball in college.
Through my participation in sports, I always ran. Sometimes it was for conditioning and sometimes it was for punishment, but never for pure enjoyment. I was always one of the stronger long-ish (we’re talking 3 miles here) distance runners on my team in college and I enjoyed running, but never thought much about it, beyond preparing me to compete in softball.
After college, I continued to run to stay in shape, but never really took it too seriously. I raced one 5k and loved it but wasn’t bitten by the “race bug”. I always wondered why I wasn’t able to run further or faster even though I ran pretty consistently, but I also never really had goals or even tracked just how far or how fast I was going.
During this time after college, I knew something was missing from my life. I am an extremely competitive person and I felt an emptiness in the part of me that desired to compete. I missed working hard to achieve goals, leaving everything I had in a game and walking away feeling proud and accomplished. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on what this emptiness was, but it is easy to look back now and see what was missing.
In 2008, I moved to Hamburg, Germany for work and my running started to change. I started running more, and while I don’t think I got much faster, I started to try to run further at least once a week. Around this time, I also went to a great friend’s bachelorette party in Nashville and together we ran the Country Music 1/2 Marathon.
After that race, I was hooked! When I moved to Greenville, SC a short time later, I signed up for another half marathon and started taking training more seriously. I eventually found running friends, discovered speed work and went on to run 9 more half marathons and 3 full marathons.
I absolutely love the feeling of accomplishment I experience after a good, hard run. I love it when my lungs and legs burn and I am sweaty like crazy and I don’t think I can go another step. But I can. And I do. I love working to get faster, then racing and pushing myself harder than I ever could have imagined. I love the high that carries me through an entire morning after a run, making me feel strong and happy and proud. I love that I have goals that drive me to wake up at 5 a.m. when I would rather be sleeping. Because all of my life working toward a goal is what drove me and when I lost that, it left a void. Running fills that void.
And the most amazing bonus is that running also keeps me healthy (even when I eat gobs of gummy bears), allows me to sort out my thoughts when something is troubling me or when I just need “me” time and connects me to a huge community of like-minded people, both in real life and in the virtual world.