Nearly ten years ago I watched a friend run the London marathon. I was so inspired that I declared that I would run a marathon before I turned 30. Perhaps I made such an outrageous promise because I was young and full of dreams about the person I was going to be and had unrealistic ideas about my motivation and abilities. Most likely at 24 I just thought that 30 sounded really far away.
The first two years after college was filled with big ideas of things I would accomplish before reaching that arbitrary milestone — many of which I didn’t reach. But of all those unreached goals running a marathon was probably one of the least likely.
See the thing is I don’t really run, but like a lot of people I thought even though I don’t run, I could if I wanted to. I have a fraught relationship with running — my brother and some of my friends ran cross country in high school (the least glamorous of all high school sports). I ran track for two years but was far from committed. I liked sprints and had no patience for the two miles through town we were expected to run in practices, so I’d take shortcuts. The fact that the coach played favorites with the more popular girls and I was never quite good enough to make it to first heats gave me an easy out to quit the team with the belief firm in my mind that I could run, I just chose not to.
But in the decades since I haven’t run aside from brief flirtations with the treadmill when I’m in a workout kick. The real answer is that I have never had the patience for it.
People are addicted to running but I’m convinced that even avid runners hate it a little bit. Unlike many sports and other forms of exercise that have social elements or some form of play, running is solitary and punishing. But those elements might be part of what keep people coming back.
Completing an extreme physical challenge (like a marathon or the full century bike tour) is still on my list of life long goals. But I don’t know when or if it will happen. I’m taking more realistic steps. Right now I’m training for a 5k.
In less than two weeks I will run in the Bronx Zoo to support the Wildlife Conservation Society’s projects to protect African elephants. (I’ve convinced my husband and a few friends to run with me, but my training has been mostly alone.)
I’m excited about the race even though my training hasn’t been as regular as should be (I’ve been running about twice a week). I hope I can run the whole thing, but more than that I hope that I stick with this running thing. The more I do it and the more I push myself to keep going I realize how hard it is and how much I respect those 26.2-mile runners.
Who knows, maybe someday I will run a whole marathon.
In the meantime I’ve haven’t really been measuring my distance, instead I’ve been pushing myself to run for the length of one song, then two and now three. Here are some of the songs I love running to. I’d love to hear yours.
- Start Me Up — The Rolling Stones
- Rolling in the Deep — Adele
- Born to Run — Bruce Springsteen
- Girl on Fire — Alicia Keys
- Stronger — Kelly Clarkson
- Roar — Katy Perry
- Edge of Seventeen — Stevie Nicks
- Set Fire to the Rain –Adele
- Anything Could Happen –Ellie Goulding
- We Are the Champions — Queen