How my running journey began.

I don’t have a running background. I started running in my mid-30’s. The most running I ever did before that was when I ran cross-country in junior high. I was terrible at it. I even dropped out of a few of the races because I just couldn’t make it the required 2 miles. Running just wasn’t my thing. I liked drawing and reading (still do). I wasn’t the least bit athletic, nor did I want to be.

This is how I stumbled into running: about 3 years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to try to have another baby. We already had our precious son, Elliot, who had just turned 3. I decided I wanted to be as healthy as possible for my pregnancy, so I started exercising. I used an elliptical and occasionally walked on a treadmill. Every once in a while, if I was feeling extra peppy, I would jog. I discovered I liked pushing myself a little, and started increasing the jogging intervals. Eventually I could run a mile, mile and a half, sometimes two. Running isn’t so bad, I thought.

Enter running hiccup #1. I got pregnant. It ended quickly, badly, painfully–an ectopic pregnancy, which needed surgical removal. It was almost 2 months before I was back in the gym, jogging again. (We never got pregnant again, but that’s another story for another day.)

Later that same year, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. It was a difficult time for our family, as we struggled to understand the diagnosis and what it meant for our son’s future. It was the beginning of a ‘marathon’ of waiting–waiting for an evaluation from the school district to see if he qualified for services (he did), waiting for all the paperwork to be processed so we could get funding to pay for those services, and waiting for an opening at the clinic. Dealing with all the red tape was a test of patience and persistence, but I was determined like I had never been before about anything–my son was going to get what he needed, dammit.

And my running gained something it didn’t have before: purpose.

I decided I wanted to run a 5K, something that benefited children with special needs. I ran my first 5K in the fall of 2014 for Sunshine Children’s Home. Crossing the finish line was an amazing feeling.

Unfortunately, I injured my leg during the race. I pulled my IT band (muscle on the outside of your upper leg) and physically could not run for several weeks. It was to date the most painful injury I’ve had. That was the beginning of hiccup #2. I had gotten a job about a month before, and the new responsibilities combined with taking care of my son, general housework, cooking, etc. were taxing me almost to my limit. My husband also was taking college classes at night, and so was away four nights a week. It was a difficult year, and looking back I’m not proud of some of the ways I handled the stress. But I’m looking forward.

When this past summer came and my job ended, I started running again. By the end of the summer, I was starting to toy with the idea of running a half marathon. Training for it has been eye-opening. I am constantly in awe of what I can accomplish that I never thought I could, and excited about what I might be able to accomplish in the future. The sky is really the limit. There is always a higher mountain. Running is a habit I want to keep for life. I know there will be hiccups. They are unavoidable. They may slow you down for a day, a week, maybe even a year. But they can’t stop you forever.

xcountry

This is me in my cross country uniform, circa 1992. 

 

 

 

Why Do I Run?

This morning was one of those mornings. I woke up in a bad mood, for no particular reason, except that maybe I’m feeling a little lonely. My husband is out of town, doing some training for work, and me and my son are here kickin’ it alone. So I’m feeling a bit worn down, perhaps. And my asthma is acting up, for some reason. I had my long run scheduled for today (for those who aren’t familiar with distance training, you usually do one long run per week in addition to shorter runs). Can you guess what the absolute last thing was that I felt like doing today? Running.

I hauled myself to the gym, thinking how nice it would be to go back home and lay on the couch. No one would care. I doubt anyone would even notice I wasn’t there. No one cares if I run. I’m not accountable to anyone, except myself.

So why do I run when I don’t want to? Habit. I laced up my shoes, put my earbuds in. I got on the treadmill. And I ran the furthest I’ve run yet–7.6 miles.

Habit gets me to the gym and on the treadmill. Then, it’s about facing self-doubt. It’s about shutting up and doing it (I always thought Nike’s trademark phrase ‘Just Do It’ was stupid, until I started running. Now I get it.) There’s always that little voice that says things like “I’m tired today. There’s no way I’ll make it that far!”  or “What if my legs cramp and I can’t run through it?”  You know how I usually answer? “Oh well”. And then I go right on with my business.

Often times, I am in pain when I run. My tibialis anterior (shin muscles) will cramp up until it is pure torture to put one foot in front of the other. I get cramps in my side. On bad asthma days, my chest hurts. But I can continue, because I know that if I persist through the pain, there are miles of good running ahead.

Sometimes the ‘pain’ is in my head, in my thoughts. There’s the ‘voice’ I spoke of, but there’s also what I like to call ‘mind garbage’–general thoughts, worries, fears, etc–that creates noise in your being. I equate it to running with a ring of keys strapped to both legs. Mind garbage jangles just like keys, distracting, slowing you down.

This is why I like distance running. Maybe I’ve got more mind garbage than other people, because it’s usually not until about mile 4 that my mind is finally empty and I do my best running. And the way it feels is amazing. My mind and body become one. I move like a machine. My feet really do fly.

I’d like to say that that feeling right there makes it all worth it, but that’s not entirely true. Even when I don’t feel amazing, I still run. I run because I can. It’s a simple answer, but it’s the only answer I can give every single day, good days and bad. I run because I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome!

Hi! If you are reading this, it means you either (a) saw the link I posted on Facebook or Instagram and clicked on it out of curiosity, or (b) somehow stumbled upon this blog by pure accident while searching the internet. Either way, welcome! I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

First, let me tell you what sorts of thoughts you will be reading about in this blog. I titled the blog Feet Are For Flying because my original intention for writing was to share my experiences as a runner, especially as I train for my first half marathon. So, you will definitely be reading about running, strength training, nutrition, and (hopefully not too often) various aches, pains, and injuries associated with my workouts.

However, since life is not one dimensional, I can tell you right now this blog will not be about ONLY running. I’ve got a lot of pots on the stove, so to speak, and depending on the day, the ‘running’ pot may not be on the nearest burner. I want to give a voice to those other areas of my life as well, so you may be reading about, well, pretty much anything! And now, for those of you who know me personally, here’s a warning: I intend to be open and honest about my thoughts and feelings on this blog. If you don’t want to get to know me really well–stop reading.

That’s it! I hope this blog will be thought-provoking at best, and entertaining at least. Enjoy!