As I write this I am sitting in my bed wearing the shirt that I wore when I ran and completed my first half marathon. That was less than two years, and here I am, four half marathons and one full 26.2 miles later, gearing up for my fifth half marathon tomorrow morning.
Only two years and yet the miles I have logged astounds me.
A lot has happened in those two years. Physically I have become stronger and my appetite has grown. While I once resented my short, scrawny legs, now I love them because they represent a part of me that never quits. They power me forward and keep me on pace. They also amaze others with their speed and endurance, especially those with legs twice my size.
Mentally I have become stronger, too. Running has kept me distracted from otherwise difficult life experiences; it has taught me resilience and perseverance. In the past, my thoughts would eat away at me if I spent an excessive amount of time in my own head, but running has enabled me to escape with myself for a few hours and allow those thoughts to entertain.
That initial decision to sign up for a half marathon may have at first seemed drastic and unexpected, particularly coming from someone whose only formal athletic training came via a few years playing middle school basketball in uniforms that basically wore like dresses on me. Yet no matter what made me choose to run that day, it represents one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.
With running, I have found a sense of community, reward and self. I have found a way to challenge myself and forget about external pressures. It meant taking on something new and not letting myself be discouraged. But I let it teach me how to be vulnerable and acknowledge where I have weaknesses. It sounds cliche and sappy, but it has transformed me.
I love being able to use my running as a talking point. I love it even more to be able to say I’m a marathoner, not only because it sounds badass, but also because it testifies to my character as a hardworking, ambitious person.
Gearing up for tomorrow, I’m excited to run the streets of D.C. another time with thousands of others. I will run according to how body feels and I will not let the predicted rain damper my mood. Post-run, I will meet my friends and we will gather with carbs to celebrate the achievement. For me, it won’t be the end result, time, or pace that matters; it will be how I feel when I finish run and what I can reflect on from those two hours on my feet.