Running

I miss running.

This week marked my entrance into the third trimester of this, my first pregnancy. And, pregnancy is a time for walking. I've always loved walking... the peace and quiet, the ability to think about one thing without any interruptions and feel very clear-headed and focused. But running filled an altogether different need for me.

I started running 2 and a half years ago, mainly for fitness/weight purposes. Soon however, I fell in love with it for its own sake. I felt so excited by challenging my body and my mind with time goals = it was my dream to run for a whole hour without stopping. As a Sophomore in college who had never been a runner my entire life, this became something I wanted to prove to myself. Everyone else in my family swims laps at the Y for miles at a time, or takes up cycling, or some other sport. I did too (I still love swimming - the smell of chlorine makes my muscles tingle excitedly to this day)... but running soon took up my whole attention. I didn't care how fast I ran - I just wanted to know I had that kind of endurance, that much strength. I suppose it became a sort of obsession with me.

I toted my running shoes and a good sports bra with me everywhere I went... to the beach in Charleston; to Williamsburg, Virginia when my mother and I went up together to visit her parents; I found that running on vacation helps you to see a totally new side to any place. Driving places, I would catch myself imagining what it would be like to run here or there; how the hills would do, and if the scenery was nice enough to be pleasantly distracting. My favorite I soon found was running through any antiquated, established neighborhood... the large, old trees and even larger, old houses were the perfect background for a delightfully daydreamy, refreshing run.

I began constantly looking for music that would be good to run to. Unlike many people who run to look good and therefore are very concerned with speed and, as a consequence, rarely enjoy their runs (at least not in the moment), but want to get them over as quickly as possible, I preferred mellow, moody "zoning-out" music to the typical, fast-paced, up-beat music that the No-Pain-No-Gain crowd tend to like. I ran to Coldplay, Colbie Caillat, the Fray... even Josh Groban!... and I loved how I felt when I could truly zone out during a run. Time flew by, trees and houses and bushes floated past, and soon I was hardly conscious of my heart pounding and my legs moving. It was a real out of body experience.

If I hadn't been running consistently enough, I was unable to achieve that glorious experience... the pain in my body kept me from zoning out, the shortness of my breath made it impossible for me to focus on anything but my body.

So I would run more and more often in order to run better. I found myself eating lighter, healthier things so I wouldn't get those obnoxious cramps or burn outs in the middle of a good run. The more I ran, the more I loved it; the better I felt about myself and my body, and the more satisfaction I felt with my self-discipline and will-power.

Running was also a very personal thing for me. I just didn't like talking about it with people... it was my own private love. I didn't like how some people would find out you loved running and they would just have to assert how dedicated to running they themselves were, bragging about the vast distances they could master like it was nothing, or devotedness with which they kept up their running every day. I hate competition, especially when it is pointless. Its stupid really, that runners can feel threated by others who claim to share their passion. Perhaps because its such a personal, individual experience, that you really do make your own, its easy to feel possessive of it? Maybe I was just neurotic. At any rate, I kept pretty quiet about my love for running.

I suppose, bottom line, talking about your exercise life is, to me, much like talking about your prayer life or your sex life. A) It is intimate and personal and B) What't the point?. [hahaha but I am a hypocrite - here I am writing about it! oh well]

I loved running for itself; I didn't run to make people perceive me a certain way; I didn't run to feel better about myself, in other words. I ran for me... for the memories it made, for the poignant moments that would come in running through a quiet old neighborhood, past sprinklers and mailboxes and sleepy golden retrievers; or getting caught in a beautiful storm and feeling the cold raindrops wash away the sweat; or running in a neighborhood next to the beach, smelling the salt on the wind. I ran for the high.

I ran till I started getting a shinsplint from my over-eagerness (after about a year of good running), and then I got distracted and overwhelmed by Senior year of college.

When Jason and I got married the week after graduation, I had just gotten beautiful new Asics, and I was really excited to get back into my obsession - and this time, carefully prevent injuries! - until I discovered that I was pregnant with my beautiful baby boy. You can't train for something (physically speaking) while pregnant, you can only maintain, and gently at that. So I miss running, and I just have to keep looking forward to it.

You know, being open to life comes with its sacrifices, but also its joys. I am so young, and my body has a good many years ahead of it for things like running. Its nice to feel like I have the time to do everything; to have this baby and then fearlessly get back into my love of running. In the meantime, walking is nice... but have you ever tried it on a treadmill? Ugh!

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