October 9, 2009

Then and Now

Sentimental first post: it happens.

With my second half marathon coming up in two days, I've been thinking a lot about running.  Why did I start running?  Why did I quit, and start running again? Why am I running another half marathon I didn't really train for?  How do people get so motivated to run...so far?!

It all started with my dad.  My dad was an elite runner in his prime, and can still rock a sub 3:30 marathon with his 63-year-old legs.  Now I've never been very close with my dad, but we've always shared a special bond thru running.  Out of his four children, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who has ever found any ounce of joy in this crazy sport.  When I was 2 years old he had me running the kids' fun runs at his races with him, and in middle school I decided to quit soccer and start running cross-country and track when I consistently "won" the mile run in gym class, realizing I had inherited some of his natural talent.

I ran cross-country and track through high school, and was pretty good at it...for not trying very hard.  One thing I definitely did not inherit from my dad was his drive to win.  Running was always about having fun, socializing, and screaming at the top of my lungs for my teammates during the last leg of the 4x4 at track meets; not about taping my face so I wouldn't get frostbite running in -30 deg wind chill, running so hard I start hallucinating, or pushing myself so hard I threw up.

During "long" runs on the Gateway Trail, my friend Sarah and I would always find ourselves looking for places to "hide" until everyone passed us again...cutting a couple miles off the (what now seems short) 5-7 mile runs.  Somehow I still ran sub 6 min splits in our cross-country races, and hovered around 2:30s in my 800s.  What?!  I can't even fathom running that fast anymore.  Maybe my previous success without training is why I currently struggle with it?  All I know is running was a blast, and my dad may have missed a lot of conferences, basketball games, and dances...but he was at every single track and cross-country meet when he was in town.

Then I graduated from high school and made the move to Madison, where I ran maybe 5 times my whole first 3 years of college.  I guess I found new, more exciting things to do?

I totally lost touch with running, and it wasn't until I moved to Huntington Beach last summer for an internship, that I met Pete, and remembered why I loved running in the first place: it's fun, and the bonds you form (Pete has an awesome running group) are unbreakable!  I started running again - struggling to run just 2 miles - yikes; but, by the fall, I felt confident enough with my newly found mad running skillz to ask my dad to do a 5 mile race with me at the apple orchard by my house in Minnesota.  I could tell this made him really happy - we had lost touch a bit since I moved to school - and it made me ecstatic that my dad was going to run a race, slowly...with me!  My mom even seemed to be overjoyed with the idea and came to watch us - she made sure to take a picture similar to one she had taken 18 years ago:

See my dad's ridiculous outfit?  He still wears that...and he still has those shoes, but that's another story.

This race made me fall in love with running all over again.  I'm excited to do it again next Saturday - where I plan to retire my current running shoes - that have been with me thru some major accomplishments this year:

Since that day I've run another 5 mile race in Madison (in a thunderstorm), my first Half Marathon, my first 10 miler, and my first trail run!  My two longer runs, and biggest running accomplishments to date, were extremely painful, and painfully slow - but I had fun, ran with good company, and my dad ran to the finish with me during my half when I felt like quitting...which was right about when this picture was taken (too bad I didn't have to obey traffic signs):

So here I am, waiting to run the Long Beach half marathon which will undoubtedly be painful, and painfully slow...but I've never been more excited.  I'm okay with being a turtle as long as I'm having fun.  The course will be beautiful (and beautifully flat), the crowd sounds promising, and there are lots of runners signed up! Perfect!

1 comment:

  1. first off, yay and welcome to blogging! i read this on the phone when you posted it, but am just now getting around to adding you to google reader and commenting, etc.

    the running relationship you have with your dad is a very cool link. the picture of you w/ the little "1" on it is classic. it's very cool that he planted that seed and that as an adult it is starting to take root.

    i'm very envious. fitness and running in particular is such a huge part of my life that i wish my parents had taken a larger interest in it. out of all my hs races and meets, they came to one.

    i hope you're able to pass that same love of running on to your own kids some day or develop and equally cool connection through some other healthy activity [unlike eating from garbage cans].