As I find myself in the beginning of 2014, I look forward to my running birthday. I will be a five year-old runner in April 2014. I ran my first half marathon in April 2010, at the age of 44, and I've been hooked ever since.
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I found an innate, natural-born talent to run at a late age. On the contrary, I found the strength to conquer something that was the furthest thing from natural born talent that you can imagine. Running was never something I was good at, enjoyed, or even looked good doing. When I was forced to run the mile in elementary school, I was sent home early because the gym teacher thought I was going to have a heart attack, I had so many red blotches all over my face. Love that the gym teacher gave us zero guidance when it came to pacing. Thanks Mr. Staats.
The year I turned 44, I realized that I could do this thing. Instead of saying "no way," I said "why not?" How hard could it be? So I did it, and once I crossed my first finish line, I never looked back and I never said "Never again." On the contrary, I rejoiced to anyone that would listen, "When is the next race?"
After five years of running on a very consistent basis (and when is the last time you really were consistent with anything? I mean, I diet once a month, I stop drinking wine once a month, and I swear off whatever 'bad thing of the month' that is bugging me, but it never sticks!), I have some perspective to offer you.
Without running, I'd be a complete bitch. No mincing words here.
Without running, my kids would have no reason (ok, one less reason) to be proud of me.
Without running, I would not have learned that a marathon consists of 26.2 miles. (As a runner, you always get asked, "How long is your marathon?", and that's OK. I forgive you.)
Without running, I would not know what a devoted husband I have. He shows up to every race, and he's there at the finish line with Gatorade and a snack selection.
Without running, I wouldn't have the friends that I cherish today.
Without running, I would just lack purpose.
Without running, I wouldn't have anything to bitch about to my husband.
Without running, I'd probably be about 50 pounds heavier.
Without running, I'd be deprived of that high I get almost every time I head out.
Without running, I would not have an excuse to take that Saturday afternoon nap.
Without running, I'm pretty sure that I'd still have dessert, but I wouldn't feel as justified.
Without running, I'd have less cool clothing in my closet.
Without running, I couldn't talk about training in these frigid temperatures, or the heat of the summer, and feel like a total rock star.
Without running, I would not feel proud of myself.
I think that's what it comes down to. I'm not doing this for anyone else but me. I run races, not to display medals (ok, well maybe...), but to say, "I did this!" In 48 years of living, I can honestly say that there is nothing else that compels me like running does. I don't always love running, especially before I run, but I never regret having run, even after the worst runs I can remember. It's like a notch on your belt, life experience, a new wrinkle. It happened for a reason, and for every run, good or bad, I can tell you that I've never regretted doing it. You just have to get yourself out there, but once you're out, you've got it.
And for the inner chubby, unpopular, lazy, awkward kid that I was, that's a pretty big deal.
So what is it that motivates you, and gets you out of bed in the morning?
What makes you less of a bitch?
What makes you feel like a rock star?