Being a 23-year-old single girl on Valentine’s day certainly warrants some writing when the month’s theme is “From The Heart.” But as I eat my third Cadbury Creme Egg of the day, I realize that Valentine’s Day has passed, we can all focus on Easter, and I should write about a topic that actually means something to me instead of complaining about how my last successful Valentine’s Day was in the 9th grade.
When I began my full-time job, one of the weirdest changes in my life was the fact that my only purpose in life was to work and then go home. I didn’t have any papers to write, no extra-curricular events to plan, no school/work/sorority activites that took up my time. My life actually slowed down, a lot. For the first few months, I would get home from work, look around, and realize I had no responsibilities that evening.
This should be comforting, right?
I kinda freaked out about it. I started looking to apply to graduate school, I started writing a novel, and I decided I needed to watch all of Battlestar Galatica while reading every William Faulker novel ever published. It wasn’t until I mellowed out that I realized what I really wanted to do.
I love a lot of things in my life. I love my Spotify premium membership; I love Tina Fey; I love the Thai chicken salad from The Tropical Cafe; I love when I get a great parking spot; and I love the feeling you get after a run.
Yes, I said it. I love the feeling you get after a run.
I never in my whole life pictured myself as a runner. Even when people ask me, I never claim the title of “runner” as I so quickly claim the title of “blogger” or “natural blonde.” I’m not a born athlete. In fact, my whole life centered around the mission of trying to be absent the day we played basketball in PE.
I don’t even really remember when I became interested in running. Sure, in college I would go “running,” but that really entailed jogging by the fraternity houses, walking the rest of the time, and then getting a large Jamba Juice after.
After about 2 years of “Run a 5k” being at the top of my New Year’s resolutions, I decided to do something about it. I used the Couch to 5k iPhone App, I had some trainers from my employee wellness program help me, but I still couldn’t get past the 20-minute running mark. And then I wasn’t even really running, just walking and jogging lightly.
It wasn’t until some guy asked if I was pregnant while I was out at a local bar for my birthday that I became the most motivated. (I wasn’t, by the way.)
It’s weird what pushes you over the edge, right?
I bit the bullet and signed up for my first 5k on Dec. 5 of last year. I was nowhere near ready. But I drove downtown on a chilly morning in Oklahoma City, ran/walked 3.1 miles, and finally crossed it off my bucket list.
I kinda liked the feeling of running, the feeling of finishing the race, and being proud of what I had done. I started to do more, little by little. I would go to the gym in the mornings before work and run a mile or a mile and a half. Then I started looking forward to the weekends where I could run 2 or 3 miles on Saturday mornings. I would run after work when I had a stressful day. I started weight training, and I started taking yoga classes.
Since I am fortunate enough to work at a university where I get a two-week break over the holidays, I stayed at my parents’ house and ran with my dog in our neighborhood park. Then I stepped on the scale and realized I hadn’t gained any weight over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Actually, I had lost some.
They talk about a breaking point when it comes to being a runner. A moment when you realize that you can do it, that your body is able to push itself further than it’s ever gone.
It was a Saturday morning, and I decided to go out for 3 miles, just down the street out-and-back from my house. I started off easy enough, when my RunKeeper App notified me that I had run a mile. Then, before I knew it, I had run two. And three. And four. It wasn’t until blisters started forming on my feet that I stopped.
It was one of the most intense feelings in the world. Whenever you run for a period of time, your brain releases endorphins that give you a “runner’s high.” It’s kind of a spiritual experience. Your brain is there, but it’s not necessarily controlling your body. Your body is just moving on its own accord, feet slapping against the pavement while you keep the natural pace of a runner. And that’s just the beginning. There’s a certain way I feel after a good, long run. I feel strong and powerful, and empty and starving and skinny, and I smell horrible, and my face is red and my legs are stiff, but I just feel amazing. I definitely felt it that day, and I decided to chase that feeling.
Now I’m training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon.
I may be crazy. I know I have to run the half marathon because I have told literally a thousand people about it. This is something right now that gives me purpose and drive. Even though running outside in the freezing cold sucks – there’s lots of perks too. I feel better, I look better, my old clothes fit, I stopped drinking so much, I eat healthier, and I’m happier. (Also running clothes are super-cute.)
I would like to think this part of my life isn’t a phase. That I will be a runner for the rest of my life. That I will run marathons on the beach, and with my husband and my kids, and have medals hanging all over my house. That I will run at Disney World and on the Great Wall of China. That I’ll be happy, healthy and active for as long as I can. But I also thought that my vegetarian phase would last, and that I would have my nose ring forever.
Right now I have a purpose. And if I’ve talked to you any length of time about my wishes for the post-graduate transition, then you know that purpose is what I pray for, and crave and wait for. I know right now that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Let’s see how I feel next week.
Is there anything in your life that makes you feel like that? Are there any other Sigma Kappa runners reading this blog? I need some tips for half marathon training!
This post was written by Malory Craft. Contact Malory at email@example.com
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