Thursday, September 11, 2008

Run, Marin, Run!

I have always had a love-hate relationship with running. Once I get into it, running is awesome. If I don't run for while, it sucks again. And so it goes.

I started running in high school (when dinosaurs roamed the earth). I joined the cross country team because a cute guy I liked was on the team. Running cross country turned out to be way more than I bargained for, but I couldn't quit the team because I didn't want cute guy to think I was a loser. So, I plugged away, running miles everyday, and after a bit, I started to like it. It was an amazing feeling to feel like I could run forever - it was such an accomplishment to me that my body could feel that good. I was never a star member of our team, I was never fast, but for me the goal was just to finish, and by the end of my time on the cross country team, I could do it.

Then high school ended, cute guy no longer seemed that cute to me, and my running faltered and eventually stopped. In my early twenties, I started running again. I felt fat, I had a lot of stress going on, and running was a welcome escape. I kept it up for awhile, and then once again something moved up in importance (probably another cute guy, who liked drinking as opposed to running - I chose real winners in my youth), and the running stopped.

And it went - every few years I would take it up again, feel really good, and then life would step in and it would take a back burner again. When I was running, I loved to talk about it with other runners; comparing mileage, routes and various aches and pains. When I wasn't running, I would avoid those kinds of conversations, feeling all kinds guilty when I would overhear people talking about running.

As married life and kids became the focus of my life, running took the title of "Never Happening Again". I would talk about running in the past tense, nostalgically. "Ahh, yes, I was once a runner - good times!". I took it up again briefly when Rhys was a baby, but stopped once I quit working to become a fulltime mom. Yes - I know that sounds counter intuitive, but not much I do really ever makes a lot of sense.

Anyways, I started running again this spring. In about March, I took a long hard look at myself and said to my husband, "I want to join a gym." He said, "What can you get at a gym that you can't get for free? Greenbelt - there's your cardio." He points to some dust covered dumbells, "There's your resistance training." And then he points to himself, "And I will be your trainer. You can do this if you really want to."

Well, obviously there was no gym membership forthcoming. And José was right. I could do this if I really wanted to. So, I started to walk the Greenbelt. I would run maybe 10 steps. And then say to myself, "Walking is fine, no need to run."

I love the Greenbelt. I love that so many people use it, I love how beautiful it is, I love that it is right across the street from my house. I have been utilizing the Greenbelt since forever. When I was running in high school, we would run on the Greenbelt (a little different then than its current form), When I was running in my twenties, I ran on the Greenbelt. And always when I ran, I would listen to my music. Remember how awesome the Walkman's were when they first came out? I thought those were the best invention ever, I could listen to my music when I worked out. Working out becomes instantly more fun if there is good music involved. And, in those days. I would run on the Greenbelt listening to, you guessed it, Def Leppard.

Yeah, so not much has changed. I now have an ipod, but it is loaded with Def Leppard. Def Leppard has a lot more songs now than they did 25 years ago.

I love my time on the Greenbelt. It is time alone, listening to music that I enjoy. As spring merged into summer, my walks became a little more like runs. Little by little, the time I spent running was more than the time I spent walking, and little by little, running sucked a little less.

During the summer, I was coerced by my girlfriends to take a deep water aerobic class. Never one to resist peer pressure, I took the class and have ended up really liking it. When temps soared above 110 degrees, the swim class took the place of my run/walks. When school started, I found the need to have some alone time again. So, one morning I decided to go for a walk (the temp was a brisk 98 degrees - brrr!). I put my earbuds in, cranked up the Def Leppard, and off I went. And I ran. I ran the whole way (only 2 1/2 miles, but still). And I felt GREAT!

So, I currently run on the days I don't have swim class. Some days the runs are more walking than running, but other days I feel like I could run forever. I am trying to get up to 5 miles, but I am not there yet. Maybe I never will be. It is still awesome, to be outside, alone, looking at all the beautiful scenery my little town has to offer, listening to my favorite songs.

I do have more than Def Leppard on my ipod. I also have The Wiggles (seriously). Big and Rich. Oingo Boingo. And Abba. Because it is so fun to run to "Dancing Queen". And being in my forties, I simply don't care how I look when I run. Back in my early running days, I worked out in full make up. I would be mortified if I saw someone I knew. I wasn't above diving behind a bush to avoid talking to an acquaintance. Now, I love seeing people I know. I look so scary when I am running that a student didn't recognize me when she saw me run by. (Of course, she thinks I live at the school.) And I am not shy about singing along to my ipod as I go. So, I am the goober who is running along singing as she goes. Yeah, I laugh at those people when I see them, too. And if the Wiggles come on, you might see me doing the Monkey Dance. But I own the fact that I am a geek.

I am hoping that writing this doesn't curse my current running happiness. I don't want to look at this post next month, and say, "So not doing that anymore." It would be nice if I could keep this up. Because I feel good; all those silly things people say about working out are so true...I sleep better, I have more energy, I am less stressed. And I have lost some weight. So, if you read this blog, and you see me, feel free to ask me how the running is going. And then raz me mercilessly if I say I am so not doing that anymore.

Edit: I ran the 5 miles today! Yeah me!


Amy H said...

I wish I was a runner.

becky w. said...

What an inspirational post. I too am trying to "get back into" running. I say that as if I ever were a real runner. Because I didn't really even start running until I was already over 30. But I know what you are saying about the alone time and the good feeling of it. I posted this ( a couple of months ago about my quest to get back out there. And I am still not really back out there. I am doing about 3 miles a few times a week, when Scott is not travelling.

becky w. said...

Oh yeah, I also love the Greenbelt.