I have never run the New York City marathon (which happened this past weekend). I don’t really think of it or Boston as being on my bucket list, which I know a lot of runners do. I have run a marathon (Big Sur, 2010), and I imagine I will again at some point in my life, but I have been feeling mixed on races of late. They are a lot of hassle. NYC would especially be so, what with hauling oneself to Staten Island early in the morning, waiting for hours, etc. Races happen on certain days — of course! — which means that you have to deal with conditions as they come. During my most recent half marathon, it was 84 degrees at 8 a.m. The next day was 64 degrees at 8 a.m. If I’d just been looking at the week from a rational perspective, figuring out which day to run 13.1 miles, I would have gone with the latter. But since the race happened on a certain day, I ran in the heat, and it was pretty miserable.
One reason people sign up for races is that they provide motivation for training. But I am pretty sure I am already motivated to run. I’m even motivated to run long on my own. I ran 7.5 miles on Sunday shortly after taking my kids on a 2.5 mile hike. I am not saying I won’t do races again — I will! — but I suspect what will drive it is a friend signing up, and me electing to join the fun.
Anyway, all that said, seeing the coverage of the NYC marathon this last weekend reminded me of something other than my thoughts on races: I have now officially been a runner for 13 years.
I watched Paula Radcliffe’s hard-fought NYC marathon victory in 2004, and I was inspired. I had recently gotten married, and running was something my husband and I could do together. We began running along the East River near our apartment. With the new-hubby motivation, I stuck with it (I had tried a few times in the past, but not gotten into it). We ran a half-marathon together in Virginia Beach on our first anniversary in 2005.
Since then, I have covered many many miles, though not so many with my husband — a side effect of having kids. We cover for each other on weekends when we run. I ran through four pregnancies, with my longest time off being about 7 weeks (5 weeks before my daughter was born, then 2 weeks after). I have run in some fabulous places: barefoot on beaches, on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, through the streets of Paris, through all those Spanish moss-covered squares in Savannah. There have also been many many pedestrian runs through my neighborhood. I like doing runs with friends, but I also use the time for being alone with my thoughts. I work out ideas. Indeed, my idea for Off the Clock came to me as I ran through Bar Harbor on one morning in Maine.
When I had to run the mile in gym class in 8th grade, I can’t say that I ever pictured it would be a big part of my life. I probably hoped it would not become part of my life. But it has become so. Indeed, it has become a daily part of my life, at least for the past 317 days. We will see what the next 13 years of running will bring!
As an adult, do you participate in any kinds of physical activity you didn’t really like as a kid?
Photo: Shoes. Kind of time to replace them.