Tundra Trailblazer Ali: They are happy tears…I promise!

I should probably start with a little background before we dive into this topic…I am not an overly emotional individual. Which, I get most people say they are that way.  To give you an idea where my head space is in regards my emotional state, I’m not a hugger.  I know most people gasp at this and wonder if I have a heart of stone or black soul, but truth be told I’ve never been big on the whole hug thing. I also not very expressive and keep my emotions to myself as much as possible.  However finishing a race seems to turn me into an soft, squishy human being.  In my head I react at the culmination of a massive goal like the Grinch did when he realized the Who’s down in Whoville finally got the meaning of Christmas.  Yes, cartoon version and all the emotions come pouring out of me.  Finishing a race is a big deal. I underestimate how I will feel when I cross the finish line EVERY SINGLE TIME and that is the most amazing part of running, I wouldn’t change it for anything!

When a runner who had completed several events told me that I would forever be changed when I finished my 1st marathon I honestly did not believe them.  At that point I was half way through our training cycle, had been putting in the miles, working through blisters, and the other unsavory aspects of training and kind of just wanted the whole thing to be over with.   What I was missing was the purpose of the whole thing.  I was slugging it out – day in and day out, not truly acknowledging how I was “feeling” with each run.  I was so focused on the end goal of the marathon that I was blowing by all the nuances of the training that were amazing in and of themselves.  Along this journey I was changing, physically and emotionally…I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees at that point.

I was in a really dark place when I began training for my 1st marathon. Many things in my life were out of control.  Running was the only thing that made sense and allowed me to shut my brain off (or so I thought).  What I did not realize was that I was connecting with individuals who would change me, bring me back from the brink.  My confidence and sense of self came back.  It wasn’t until I entered the last mile of the marathon that all of these realizations and emotions hit me.  It was uncomfortable and too much to handle.  I broke down in that last mile and cried, like watching the last scene in the “Titanic” kind of cry.  Crying and running don’t mix well. I had to slow down to be able to breath, but by slowing down I got to take it all in.  The journey was far greater than the actual moment of the race (don’t me wrong it was pretty darn cool to finish) and in the last mile put two and two together…running gave me back my life.

I’m an ugly crier so it was obvious to all those along the course that I was having an epic meltdown. I had to reassure my family and friends that I was “fine” – that they were tears of joy.  I was happy! Like, truly, deeply happy.  Maybe it was the rush of serotonin (aka runner’s high) or the sheer exhaustion from running 26.2 miles, but I was vulnerable in a way that had always be tough for me.

I kind of figured that this emotional roller coaster would be a one shot deal.  Being that this was my 1st marathon I did not anticipate to feel this way again, but it has happened every single race.  Be that I am not always a hot mess I still get choked up at the finish line.  The ability to run is not something that I take for granted and each accomplishment is a reminder of that…the tears and emotion are a powerful expression of that.  This is a sport built of struggle, determination, and heart. So if our paths cross at the finish line of a race expect me to be a squishy, puddle of joy…I promise you they are happy tears!

#BeHappy #BeActive #BeKind

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