Becoming A Runner

I did not marry a runner.

Yet somehow I am married to a runner.

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A few months before Caleb's first birthday, Tim ran his first marathon.  I don't remember exactly what prompted it, but I know my sister filled out his registration and paid his race fee.  She wanted someone to run with her and she was smart enough not to ask me.

Eight months later he ran his second marathon.  Around the same time, he had this idea that I should run one too.

Funny.

I am not a runner.

Once upon a time I was a gymnast (not any good) and I had just about the shortest vault run of anyone on our team.  I hated running that much.  I used to be one of those kids who ran the annual mile in gym class and then was sent home because I couldn't breathe.

Life happened for awhile.  Kenna died, we moved, had some funny business with Tim's job, and the house fire and thenanother move.  Tim stopped running for several years.  He would occasionally head out for a short run, but didn't get serious again until earlier this fall.

He ran the Utah Race for Hunger 5K on Thanksgiving morning at 8:00 AM when it was 10 degrees outside.  He said his sweat was freezing to his facial hair for most of the race.

We declined to watch.

Somehow though, this freezing cold run gave me the idea that maybe I could put on a pair of running shoes.  Maybe I could start running and not stop until 5 kilometers later.  Maybe I could try running occasionally.

But I would not be a runner.

It took until early January for me to actually tie my thrift store tennis shoes onto my feet and climb onto a treadmill.  For those first few weeks I painfully walk-ran a mile or maybe two.  I ran first for 2 minutes at a time and then 4 minutes and then 10.  I was slow, but I was getting better.

In February I ran outside for the first time and almost quit right there.  The changing hills, passing cars, and sometimes uneven sidewalks slowed me down more than I could ever imagine.  In some ways, it felt like starting all over again.

In March, Tim brought up the idea of a 5K again.  I promised to think about it and by April I had agreed.

By the end of April I ran 5 consecutive kilometers for the first time and decided maybe I wasn't ready.  I was so slow it took me in the neighborhood of 48 minutes to finish 5 kilometers.  I'm sure I could have walked it faster.  I had a small meltdown and swore that I needed a new brand of fitness.

I refused to run for a week.

May and Mother's Day brought me a new pair of running shoes and a new resolve as well.  Three mile runs became 5 mile runs and 15 minute mile paces because 12 minute mile paces.  One mile became doable in 10 minutes instead of 12 or 13.  48 minutes became 38 minutes.

I still wouldn't call myself a runner, but I agreed to run a 5K.

Up until the shotgun start rang out on that humid Saturday morning in June, I was not sure I could do it.   I was convinced that somehow my first steps would expose me for what I was- a pretend, wannabe runner.

Then 36 minutes and 8 seconds later I was suddenly no longer pretend.  I wasn't the fastest runner in the group, but I wasn't the slowest either.  In any case, I was proud of what I accomplished in taking another 40 seconds off of my previous best time on race day.  I felt both justified in spending the money for my registration and worthy of wearing the t-shirt that came with my race packet.

Tim once told me that he knows he is in a running groove when his feet start moving and find comfort in the rhythm of the road.  When he settles in and can block out the rest of the world for just him and his running shoes.  When continuing to run becomes a matter of will, not a battle of the body.  I'm not there yet, but I understand what he means.  When it feels good to run- even when it is hard.

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Shortly after the 5K was finished, Aidan and his friend Ashleigh ran in the Youth 1/2 mile race.  Watching his nervous excitement and seeing his smiles at the end reminded me that becoming a runner for most people has less to do with the clock and more to do with the inner battles to take the first step.

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I am not a runner yet.

But I am thinking about becoming one.

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5 comments :

Heather said...

Heidi, you are awesome! I am NOT a runner, bt am most definately married to one! He's planning on running an ultramarathon in July. Yikes! I never have nor ever will be a runner, but I do dream about it sometimes! :)

Heidi said...

The real question is if you recognize the path we ran our 5K on :)

Kara said...

Great job! Thank you! I told myself in the spring that I would start to run. I think that lasted 2 or 3 days. I really do need to keep at it!

Gigi said...

What a beautiful post. You are a great writer. Way to go!

Jenn said...

Good for you!! I have recently started running again (I used to run in highschool, then kids happened, and I haven't had the time or desire for the past 10 years!!) I am still in the slow, huffing and puffing stage, but I am starting to feel the endorphins kick in, and the desire to keep on going! :)