Monique Rubin, the mother of two daughters, gets to do what many of us dream of doing: living in Europe and racing in places like Paris, Amsterdam, and Istanbul. Her goal is to “run the world.” She hasn’t let seasonal affective disorder or motivation that's gone MIA get in her way for very long. Join her vicariously on her travels at MoTravels and on Twitter.
I bought my first pair of running shoes after watching the 1992 Olympics. I never harbored dreams of being an Olympian; I knew running short distances at my incredibly slow pace would not make me an Olympian or even give me a physique that remotely resembled one. But looking at the strong, fit sprinters’ bodies with awe and envy was enough to get me to lace up my running shoes and run for 2 or 3 slow miles three times a week. I ran a little for vanity, but more than anything, having just graduated from college and entered the real word, I liked the rhythm and routine running provided.
Vanity was soon thrown out the window though. As I ran my way through law school, the bar exam and planning my wedding , I just wanted to maintain my sanity. The routine stayed the same: a few miles around my neighborhood a couple of times a week.
Not long after getting married and passing the bar exam, my husband and I moved to Holland, the beautiful European country known for its picturesque windmills, canals, and tulip fields. It is also known for its low sky, covering the landscape in a blanket of grey during the winter months. It felt as if I was being smothered by the grey skies, and I suffered the effects of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) for several months every year. In an attempt to wrest myself from the clutches of these winter blues, I ran. And not just the two or three miles that had been my routine for so many years, but enough to consider signing up for a race. The first race I ran was the City-Pier-City Loop in my new hometown, The Hague, which has become a course where world records are set and broken (but not necessarily by me). Bitten by the race bug, I soon followed up the 10K with my first half-marathon in Amsterdam, where I would run my first marathon 10 years later.
Not long after running that marathon in 2010, I hit the wall. I found myself struggling to get through the miles, and I went through stretches where I ran very little, if at all. I wondered if I was depressed because I wasn’t running--or if I wasn’t running because I was depressed.
Yet even when I wasn’t logging many miles, I wanted to. Despite the weakness of the flesh, the spirit was willing. Even though I’d go weeks without running, I never stopped thinking about running. I made training plans (which I didn’t follow), registered for races (that I performed poorly in), and still identified myself as a runner.
One day, I had an epiphany: Runners run. Period.
I pushed the restart button, got past the wall, and ran. Enlisting the help and encouragement of running buddies--both real and virtual--as well as a running group with a coach who is putting me through the paces, has helped me to reclaim my joy of running.
Combining running with love of travel has also helped me get my running mojo back. A girls’ weekend to Paris to run the Paris-Versailles run planted the seed for my quest to “run the world”. Since that race in 2008, I’ve conquered many other destinations, but there are still many more to claim. So I guess I’ll keep running.