My first encounter with running came in a rather unusual way. I was in sixth grade at cheerleading practice, which happened to be held at the top of a steep hill. As we were practicing, a group of high school kids came barreling up. Then back down. Then up again. I don’t know what it was, but I was intrigued. Despite the sweat and groans, there was something about the sheer determination that I saw on their faces that day that drew me in. I immediately threw in my pom poms and signed up for the first race I could find.
I ran cross-country and track throughout middle school and high school. However, by college and law school, running had slipped by the wayside. Then one day during my final semester at law school, a former runner from my high school reached out stating she was putting together a fundraising team for the Chicago Marathon. Despite being in the midst of planning my wedding, graduating, and studying for the bar exam, I signed up. My family and friends thought I was crazy, but there was a part of me that I felt had been missing all those years. In my head, I still identified myself as a runner. But how could I still be a “runner” if I couldn’t even remember the last time I had been for a run? I missed running. But even more so, I missed the person that I was when I was running. I missed being a runner.
Since my return to running almost two years ago, I have completed two marathons and a number of shorter races. My first marathon in the fall of 2011 was a matter of survival. My second marathon in the fall 2012 was motivated by my search for redemption. It was as much of a confidence builder as it was humbling, taking more than thirty-one minutes off my previous time, but missing a Boston qualification by twenty-three seconds.
This year, my goals for the Green Bay marathon are simple. First, I hope to take those twenty-three seconds off and finally qualify for Boston. Second, I hope to make it to the start line injury free. Finally, this year I hope to share the joy of running with those around me. Running, and more specifically marathon training, has shaped my life in a way that I never thought possible. There is a certain level of dedication (and perhaps insanity) that is required to go out before dawn on a Saturday morning and complete a long run in the bitter, Midwestern winter. But the camaraderie of the running community is unlike any other. At the end of the day, every ache and pain is worth it.
Here’s hoping third time’s a charm.