It was perfect. The air was crisp, the sun was shining, the Teeny-dog was by my side, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like I could run for days. Oh now I remember... this is why I run. This is what I have been missing. This is what it's supposed to feel like.
About six months into my pregnancy I decided to quit my love affair with the sport of running. I was on a jog one day and tripped and fell (in the middle of an intersection no less) and just barely caught myself from taking the brunt of the fall on my growing belly. With my balance out of whack, I hung up the running shoes and resigned myself to waiting until after our son came along to get back at it again. And then he was born, and well, those shoes stayed in the closet. Sure, I tried a couple of times and even blogged about my frustrations, but I was caught in a vicious cycle. I used to love to run because I was good at it. I used to be good at it because I ran a lot. I ran a lot because I loved it. When it came time for me to start back up again, even my three-milers, which used to be an easy-peasy workout, were tough. I was back to square one and did not like that I had to walk during these outings, and therefore I just decided not to go. Even though I had promised myself that I would stick with it, it was easier just to give up on it all together. I even tried to motivate myself with a new pair of shoes and a Garmin (for my husband... which coincidentally would be something I would use, too!) but I still had zero motivation. It wasn't until I was with my sisters earlier this month (goodness, I still need to blog about that trip!) that I made it a full three miles without stopping. It was a fluke, I thought. I had running buddies, so it was no wonder that my brain couldn't talk me into quitting like it normally did.
So this morning, out of nowhere, I decided to give it a whirl. The thermometer said 38 degrees, which sounded oddly appealing to me. 38 degrees meant that I could wear running tights and my favorite Nike dry-fit turtleneck. After Josh requested that I bring my cell phone, I dug through my closet and pulled out my pink fuel belt and secured it around my waist, tucking my cell phone securely in the zip pocket. I even filled up one of the water bottles just in case. And instead of just walking to the end of the driveway and heading off toward the park, I hopped in the car and drove to a running trail that I've always seen, but never actually took the time to go check out. With my favorite running gear on I felt the part again. This is the stuff that I used to get oddly excited about. This is the stuff that made me feel more like a seasoned runner when I needed a little motivation. These are the silly things that get me amped up about a race, or just the sport in general.
Teeny and I hopped out of the car and off we went. I decided to take her because she has so much energy in the cooler weather and if anything, she was pulling me at first. From the very first step it was as if my body suddenly remembered what to do again. My feet were moving mechanically, one in front of the other, and my brain could wander aimlessly or focus on the song that was playing. I thought about how lucky I am to have a body that can do this and how important it is to stay healthy for my son. I thought about how wonderful my husband is for getting up early most mornings so that I can get that extra hour of sleep. I praised God for the glorious weather and the clean air that filled my lungs. And I kept going even when my stopwatch said that I had gone as far as I had been planning on going. By the end, Teeny was lagging a bit behind and I couldn't help but smile.
These are the reasons that I run... I do it because even though I forgot for awhile, I do love it. Today I ran for me. I wasn't training for anything or thinking about getting baby weight off. I knew from the start that it was okay if I needed to stop and take a breather. It was simply 37 minutes of pure me-time... me left with my own thoughts and not having to worry about a baby getting into something or a husband needing someone to listen and bounce ideas off of. Yes, I love those things about this life I live, but I had forgotten how nice it is to just have solitude- just me and my naughty dog, and the open road ahead of me. It was the most perfect start to my day.
I look back on all of the years I spent training and the runs that stick out for me are those that were purely for me. I definitely enjoyed all of the long runs with my sister when we were training for something or another, but the ones that always come back to me are days like today. Days when I'm all by myself and I see a double rainbow, and I feel like God put it there for only me to enjoy. Days when I cover six or eight miles on auto-pilot and by the end, I can hardly even remember what got me through it, but marveled at how my body just robotically gets me there. Days when the sun is setting over a cow pasture (back when we had cow pastures near my old house) and time just seems to stand still. Days when my brain produced such poetic thoughts that I wished they were recorded so that I could go back and read them afterwards. In fact, this post was basically writing itself this morning as I cruised down the trail. All of these are me-moments, and they remind me that I love to run for these moments.
I can't guarantee that I will be back out there tomorrow or signing up for a race anytime soon, but I do know that I finally feel like a little part of me is coming back. A part of me that I missed, but wasn't sure how to reclaim. Today as I climbed back in my car, I might as well have had a medal around my neck. In comparison to past races that I've finished, my time and distance were minimal, but I had that same sense of accomplishment that comes when crossing a finish line. Somewhere along the way I forgot that I do this because I love it, and I never want to go back to doing it for any other reason. Especially now with a husband and a baby at home, I need to remember that it's okay to do it for me.