by Jessie Powell in Stories, image by RawheaD Rex

My Reasons Have Changed, But My Love Still Remains

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I’m 39 years old, and I love to run.  I should rephrase that.  I’m 39 years old and I’m addicted to running.
This wasn’t always the case for me.  I didn’t start out loving to get out there and put one foot in front of the other.  In fact, I hated it.  In high school when our P.E. teacher would have us run laps to warm up, I dreaded it.  In softball, when the coach had us run laps around the field to warm up, I dreaded it. 

It wasn’t until after I had my son that I started running.  The baby weight wasn’t coming off with other forms of cardio that I was doing, so one evening I decided to give running a try in hopes that it would speed up weight loss.  It was a walk/jog actually, but I came home feeling something I hadn’t ever felt after my previous experiences.  I felt energized.  I went out again the next evening, and the next, and the next.  Very quickly, running was a habit for me.  I soon forgot why I started in the first place, to lose the baby weight; because I was feeling so good just have the running as part of my life.  The reason didn’t matter anymore.

What mattered is that I got out there.

A few years after my son was born, I went back to college as a non-traditional student.  I worked part-time at the tutor center with some classmates.  We were talking about running much of the time we worked and one day, they told me that they were in cross-country.  They said they told the coach about me and that the coach wanted to talk to me to invite me to join the team.  ME?  Join the college cross-country team?  ME?  I’m SLOW!  As it turned out, they didn’t care how slow I was.  All they cared about was having me join the team.  I did join and competed against college student ten years my juniors.  I did not always come in last, but in the races that I did come in last, I didn’t care.  I lettered, I earned an Academic All-American Award, and was voted by my teammates as the Most Improved Player.  All of which I’m extremely proud of.

After I graduated, I began running other races, not just 5Ks, even though I did a number of those.  I did some 4 and 7-milers.  It was time to try the half marathon at the huge push of my best friend.  We didn’t live near each other, but we were going to meet up and it would be my first half.  She had run several half marathons and one full marathon.  We trained together via email and phone.  I was following one of Hal Hidgon’s training plans and was SURE he didn’t know what he was talking about when he said that I wouldn’t have to run the full 13.1 before the race.  How is that possible? So I took it upon myself to increase my own mileage so that I would be ready.  Well, it got me ready for nothing.  Of course, I developed an over-use injury and had to pull out of the half.  I was devastated.  I was afraid to tell my best friend.  When I called her to tell her, she had her own news.  She couldn’t run the half either.  She was pregnant!  We got together on that weekend anyway.

it’s just about the road under my feet,  the smell of fresh air, the feeling that nothing is holding me back

Once I healed my over-use injury, I took a break from running.  I needed it mentally. I eventually got back into it, and decided it was time to try a half.  I trained by myself and this past year, I ended up completing two half marathons and my first full marathon.  I did it all by myself.  I got up at 4am to run my weekly runs.  I got up at 2:30am to run my long weekend runs.  Why?  It was the middle of winter and I had to do my runs on a treadmill.  Yes…..a treadmill for 16, 18, 20 miles.  Luckily for me, Prince William and Kate got married the weekend of my 20 miler.  Watching the Royal Wedding sure helped the boredom!

The marathon was amazing, scary, excruciating, wonderful, fun, horrible all wrapped into one race.  I don’t know how many times I said out loud, and you don’t care if you are talking out loud to yourself during a marathon, “Why did I DO this to myself?” and “I love this!”   It’s really an experience that deserves its own space on the pages.

My reasons for being addicted to running have changed from that 24-year-old who wanted to shed the stubborn post-baby weight.  I’m 39 now.  I run for different reasons now.  It makes me feel good.  It helps me shed my baggage that I accumulate.  It helps me rid my body of negative people and feelings.  It brings me back to my priorities in life.  It’s not about anything fancy… it’s just about the road under my feet,  the smell of fresh air, the feeling that nothing is holding me back.  Everything negative is rolling off my back and I run and my mood, my heart lightens.

I don’t care about being the fastest runner in the race.  I don’t care about being the cutest dressed runner in the race.  What I care about is that I’m out there.

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