Although I--Dimity--have only run with Amanda Thompson, a Denverite and mother of two, once, it was one of the best runs of my life. We chatted for miles and connected on many levels. She doesn't have a blog. Yet. Encourage to get going on one, would you?
When I first read Dimity’s email asking if I’d write a guest post about why I run, I ignored it 37 times before collapsing into bed. I write professionally, but, as an attorney, the subject matter revolves safely around employment contracts and legal arguments. Dimity knows I dream of writing non-legal material, but my insecurities are safer buried in the dream, put at the end of the to-do list, and otherwise addressed after I clean the grime out of the underside of the kitchen sink and organize my drawer of spandex. I relegate my non-legal writing to personal email correspondence, overly developed preschool applications, and Wednesday comments posted in the hopes of winning free running gear.
The thought of someone outside of a preschool reading my words terrifies me to the point I want to run (away), but I got that email at night and I run in the morning. So that wasn’t an option. My mind was manic and anxious spewing the most astounding, genius, witty ideas that I thankfully will never remember. I shut my brain down with a heavy dose of Lunesta and let the freaky, drug-assisted dreams take over. I spent that night vividly sprinting hurdles in glass cleats trying to catch a buff, post-werewolf-birth Tina Fey. My mind didn’t relent until my Garmin beeped a mile into my run the next morning.
During the run, like all of my runs, there’s no second-guessing, no fear, and no insecurity. Four miles of fear suppression and a pep talk from Eminem later, I emailed Dimity to say I’d write ... something.
I stopped working to stay at home with the kids when my husband’s travel schedule forced him to sleep soundly out of town most of the week. Leaving work and every sense of how I had defined myself (as an attorney, an achiever, and a person who wore clean clothes) left me in a deep, dark place with only the company of a toddler and an infant. While I enjoyed the games of dead princess and rocket pirate ship, for the first time in my life, I had no measurable goals and no sense of purpose outside of surviving the daily routine. I needed a goal that was challenging, but obtainable, and something I could do wearing spandex with my kids in tow.
I started to run.
I pushed the BOB dualie at a blistering 13-minute pace for 30 seconds, and then I walked for 30 seconds. I talked to Jesus, my dead grandmother, Tina Fey, and the voices in my head. But, for the first time in years, I did not talk to my kids. My 3-year-old accepted that and settled in for previously unattainable quiet time. Because I was not answering relentless questions about rocket fuel and distance between planets, I could hear myself think. The 30-second walk breaks gradually disappeared, and I started building mileage and craving those runs. After two years sequestered from adult interaction, I ditched the BOB and joined a running group. I met those ladies on weekend mornings to socialize and run. As they all out-paced me, I was left with a great view and silence in which to have real, deep, important thoughts.
At some point during my runs, true magic happened. And, that’s why I lace those Sauconys at 5:30 a.m. regardless of the temperature, regardless of how much is going on in our lives, how little sleep I got, or how much I need to be finalizing a document. I am not sure if it’s physiological, psychological, or photochemical, but in engaging in the process of running, I somehow chased my former self back into my life.
Running returned to me the practice of goal setting and gave me time to be alone with those real, deep, important thoughts. With each additional mile, those thoughts formulated into ideas. I should run a marathon and go on a girls’ weekend and buy some whoopee cushions. The ideas led to plans. A girls’ weekend for the Vegas marathon and the purchase of whoopee cushions in bulk. The plans ultimately turned into realities. The Las Vegas 2010 Marathon Girls’ Weekend and Starbucks April Fool’s Day 2011 Project Whoopee Cushion.
I returned to work on a part-time basis, and, after three half-marathons and a full, I finally came to terms with the fact that I also like to write sentences that don’t involve burden shifting or damages. Now that I’ve discovered that, I’ve got to concoct The Ultimate Plan For the Rest of My Life. It’s in the works. I just need a few more runs to figure it out.