I started running in 2008 when my husband signed me up to participate in a relay with 10 uber athletic people I didn’t know. Needless to say that was quick motivation to get this flabby ass in shape. Honestly it was the best gift he’s ever given me. I fell in love with running. I fell in love with that relay team and I made a BFF during that race. She and I became the best of running buddies challenging each other to take leaps and push boundaries we never had imagined and before the year was finished we both ran our first marathon together.
During that time we coordinated another relay team in which I recruited my non-running aesthetician one evening while she was kindly waxing my hoo ha. She had never run more than 3 miles and yet she enthusiastically joined the team. I loved her spirit already! Much like my start to running she had quick motivation to get in running shape since 10 strangers were counting on her. We hit it off and a fantastic friendship formed. After that first relay we trained constantly and ran 4 marathons and an uphill mountain half.
And then she got pregnant.
So I recruited my brother (at least he couldn’t get pregnant) to train for his first half marathon. I couldn’t convince him that a full marathon was worth the effort. Reluctantly he became my training partner and last summer we ran a half marathon for his birthday. The week after that race I suffered a back injury (not from running but from a plyometrics workout!). August our lives were turned upside down and we left Tucson and my training buddies behind. September I finally resolved the back injury with surgery and since that time I’ve been unable to convince myself to get serious about running again.
I’ve sat with this for awhile. Why am I unmotivated to run? Why am I not finding my peace and healing through running like I always have? Why am I avoiding a race? Why do marathons sound boring? Why do I think I’m not capable of completing a marathon when I’ve completed six? Why so much self doubt? Why so many negative thoughts about running?
Running has always been therapy for me because I’ve been able to process life and its problems while pounding the pavement, feeding ideas and thoughts off of my friends. In training I have made two of the best friends I’ve ever had in my entire life. Friends that have at times known me better than my own husband. Friends who at times have known me better than I know myself. These are girls that have loved me no matter what. Who have stood (or run) by me while I lost my religion. Who almost convinced me during our long runs that aliens built the pyramids. Friends that have been there when we added G to our family. Friends who I have been privileged to watch grow their families through marriage and pregnancies. Friends that would meet with me every Sunday for the last few years and we talked about our husbands, our family struggles, the entirety of our lives. Friends so close that we got semi-matching marathon tattoos. These friends have been my motivation. Not the running. Not the finish line. Not the weight loss. Simply the time to be with them. Being challenged together. It was time for me to bond with my brother. Running has never been just about me. It’s been my savior. But running hasn’t done it alone. It’s done it with amazing ladies (and sibling) by my side. And that’s what running has been for me. Therapy through friendships and endorphins.
So why haven’t I jumped back in? Why have I used the fat card, the back injury card, the there’s-no-time card, and the I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-it card? The answer is I’m grieving the loss of those partners. I’m grieving the loss of my best friends and our Sunday morning therapy sessions. I’m grieving that my chances of racing and training with them again in the future are slim to none. These girls are part of me. Part of my heart and soul and I miss them. So so deeply. Running just doesn’t feel the same without them. And so I’ve avoided it.
Today I turned a corner and made the decision to move forward. I’ve decided that I need the healing that running provides me. I need the motivation of a circled race on the calendar. And most of all, I need to make new friendships and find others who will fill that void. I’m fortunate to have a myriad of women who are runners here and because of them I am slowly climbing out of my runner’s low. Will they ever replace the two women who are like sisters to me? No. Or replace my brother? No. But I have room for new friends. Lots of room.
Monday morning my 18 weeks of training begins. Portland Marathon is paid and circled on the calendar (Oct 6)! I’m super excited! Super motivated! And, no doubt, I am super scared. Watch out, Portland, I am back in my running shoes and on the hunt. Nobody is safe from being recruited to run with me…not even my waxer.