Today I went running. At 6:00pm. When it was 97 degrees out. Call me crazy, but it was actually voluntary. I'm all signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon in our nation's capital on October 31, but the thought of training through the brutal Atlanta summer is daunting. I've been a little lackluster in the motivation department of late, so I decided to join the Kennesaw Running Group on Meetup.
I met a couple people this evening for a four mile run and nearly passed out from the heat, humidity, and my general lack of in-shape-ness. I had to stop to walk a few times, but the people I was with were really nice and didn't taunt me or make me feel terrible. I think that runners are overall a pretty nice group of people (but then again I am biased, because I believe that all people are inherently good.... but thats beside the point), and I think its because all runners have struggled at one point. No matter how good you are, there is always a point at the beginning where you wonder what the heck you've gotten yourself into. You think to yourself "but I ran 20 miles effortlessly back in 2008!" It doesn't matter. When it comes to running (and probably lots of other sports, but I wouldn't know because I've never been very successful at any of them), our bodies have a big ol' reset button so that if you take too much time off, you just have to start all over again. (Thats the boat I'm on.)
As I was walking home from my run today, I was thinking about the fact that sometimes in order to be a runner you just have to run. Here's what I mean. For a long time, I never thought I could run a marathon (or even a couple of miles). Not for any good reason, I just knew that going out for a 10 minute jog hurt every muscle in my body. I never really worked at it, I just knew that I wasn't a runner. And then one day I just decided to run a marathon. Not because I was a runner, but because it was on my list of things I would never be able to do. And I did. I ran during my summer in DC. I ran during the fall semester of my last year in grad school. I woke up at 6am every Saturday morning - forgoing many social invitations - to do my long runs. First 5 miles, 8, 10, 12, and 20. 20 miles. That felt pretty amazing. And when I was running the marathon, when I looked around at all the people cheering us on, when I realized I was the type to analyze the flavors of gu and the wicking power of different brands of socks, I knew then that I was a runner.
This revelation - that I was a runner because I ran, not because I felt like a runner - taught me so much about myself. Even when I am having a bad day and wish I was happy I remember that in order to feel happy I must just be happy. Not in a 'grin and bear it' type of way, but in a way where I actually become happiness itself. I truly believe that the way that we feel is a choice, and that our mindset will follow our actions. We really can choose the way that we react to any situation. And if you don't believe me just read this powerful book: Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl.
Rereading this blog entry, I sort of can't believe that I was thinking about all of this while I was running, which makes me think that I should keep running. I'm not sure where the next 114 days will take me, but I know that running 26.2 miles is just the beginning.
And so I begin. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. Running, running, running.