Haymarket, VA — I am a lot of things, but I am not a runner. My knees are creaky and knobby, my gait awkward. My pace is deliberately, painfully, slow. For me, a “runner’s high” is the feeling I get from surviving the experience. And when I first started this journey, that experience was ever so brief. I didn’t think I could run, I mean like actually…run. Never mind make it a mile. I would walk the dog and think to myself, hmmm…I wonder if I could run the length of our street. Nah. But maybe a block, yeah – a block.
The first 5k I attempted to run was a disaster. All I wanted to do was light a smoke, eat some food and sit on a porch somewhere. Back then I weighed close to a walrus and smoked a pack a day, but that first 5k planted this seed: you could do it. The second time I tried, that too was a disaster, but that whisper at the back of my head got a little stronger. By the third try, I made the 5k — so you could say that it took me three years to run three miles.
Today that little whisper is up front and center. Two weekends ago I made it 8.2 miles around our neighborhood, in the sticky heat and hot sun. Reaching that point in miles was the greatest fitness challenge of my life, to date, and one that I will hopefully break this weekend when I attempt to go beyond 10 miles. I will do it because since I began training to be a member of TNT at the Marine Corp Marathon this October, I’ve stopped being afraid of running. It’s a great metaphor for life: to push yourself beyond that fear of exhaustion and pain as a runner is to push yourself to go on new adventures in life. To be bold and push yourself beyond the fear of failure and rejection.
As for the running, it still hurts more than it should. My knees are still as swollen and creaky as ever. They still hurt every time I take a step. But I no longer fear pushing myself through new boundaries, and those knees hurt less with every passing mile. I’m learning that this commitment to raise funds for LLS by challenging myself to do something new and difficult is goading me on, that keeping a dusty promise to my old man’s memory is helping me take a step forward to a new way of life.
Help me raise funds for LLS by supporting my run this October!