Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Somewhere in the Middle of the Road

Over the past couple of years I have come to realize how important athletics is in my life. I always thought it was kind of a frivolous extra--like a stamp collecting hobby or dressing fashionably. It was playing around and something to be enjoyed in one's childhood. But for whatever reason, since I stopped doing it regularly after high school running always lingered in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do. At first I thought it was just some wish to turn back the clock and achieve something I never did. But as I matured and grew older I realized it was more than that. This sounds all sorts of porny but I wanted to get back in touch with my body and see what it could do. Even in my mid-twenties I could tell my body was aging and if there was no intervention things could get ugly really quickly. But it really wasn't about looks. I just didn't feel strong anymore. Even long after I put away the running shoes I was muscular and active and proud of it. But after throwing myself into school and consequently parking my ass in a chair in the library most of the day I really couldn't say I was strong or athletic anymore and I kind of felt physically crappy a lot of the time. And I saw cellulite and bugged, to be honest, ok? Heh. I actually did but this was a minor factor in my decision I assure you.

Anyway, so I swore to myself when I was done with school that I'm running and nothing can stop me. I no longer even cared if I sucked. If I ran 17 minute miles I was going to run regularly. I didn't care if I looked like a moron. I didn't care if I had to sacrifice time for other things. I didn't care if I had to run in cotton sweatpants. I made a commitment to run (run/walk, jog, whatever it took) for good. I have to say this is one of the best things I have ever done. It's so funny just how much of a difference it makes to drop all expectations of achieving this or that and just do something because you want to do it no matter if you suck or not and just do it for the pure joy of it. It's so liberating to not have pressure on myself to achieve something. Every achievement in running is just for my own personal satisfaction.

And it's not just the achievements themselves, but the process. I actually enjoy all facets of training and racing and not just the end results. I like the highs and the lows and the springy leg times and the dead leg times. I love feeling strong and I love overcoming the doubts I have about my physical abilities. I love pushing through pain and discomfort and I love those moments of bliss when endorphins flood my body. I love gliding along soaking in sun beams on a sunny morning in the summer and I love the frosty peek cheeks and seeing puffs of my breath in the winter.

When I started running again I had finally come to grips with the fact that I wasn't as physically strong and capable as I once thought. I was cool with that. But since this time I have realized that I'm actually stronger and more capable than I ever thought possible. I sound like some sort of weird born-again, I know. I'm sorry. But I've come to realize, for me anyway, that to be the best person I can be I need to tap into this athletic side of myself. I need to have a strong body and to push that body to be the strongest person I can be. I've learned so much more about so many different parts of myself than I ever could have imagined and I know I'm far from finished learning.

Well, my marathon is in 4 days now. I suppose all of these feelings are bubbling up because it really is a milestone for me. I definitely hope I run a fast time, but really, just being here is pretty rad.

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