The gift to run.

In junior high I joined track just to be with my friends. On week 2, we had our first “long” run. It was probably 2-4 miles and I quit track the next day. Running was never my thing, it never came easy. 2015 will be my 8th year as a ‘runner’.

Running has been many things to me, for me, over the years. In the very beginning, it took me a full year to train my body to run for 3 consecutive miles. It was a very big moment of pride to accomplish this, understandably as I had worked for so long to achieve this. Shortly after,  I committed to run a 10 mile race. It was my first race (no small feat!) and my dad was there cheering me on the whole way.  Crossing the finish line was so incredible, I had to fight back tears as I caught my breath.

Since then- I’ve done many races, from 5Ks to Marathons, I could plaster my wall with all the bibs (Yes-I’ve kept every single one!!). Running has been a source of self confidence in my abilities, it has been my excuse to be outside, it has been a place for me to get stuck in my head with my own thoughts. Running has been a place to jam out to music, to explore new places, to feel powerful and really alive. Running has been a point of pain, discomfort, injuries, and expensive shoes. Not to mention, the pure mental challenge that comes with running in the rain, and pushing yourself to new distances.

It has taken me a long time to accept that I have the body of a runner. That all runners don’t look like they walked off the cover of a running magazine. And now, I identify myself through my running, it’s who I am, it is an integral part of me and I wouldn’t be the same without it and will continue to run on the day I turn 100 (Yes, I plan to live past 100).

2 months ago, I broke my back and had to choke down the reality of what that would mean for me, my future.  I was very lucky, one vertebrae higher and I’d be in a wheel chair for the rest of my life. It will be  long time before I can say those words out loud and not get choked up with emotion.  Having to come to terms with the reality of how serious my injury could have been has given me a fear I don’t even want to put into words.

Today I received an incredible gift. My orthopedist gave me the green light to run again, with that, a clean bill of health! You can bet the first thing I did was go straight home and put on  my running shoes. I was supposed to take it slow, mostly walk, and only run for 5-7 minutes total (to give my body a chance to adjust back into activity). Once I started running, I couldn’t stop AND there were no aches or pains after 2 months of being restricted to walking. I ran for 6.3 miles and every step was amazing. I would have gone farther if it weren’t for that pesky thing called work!

I’ve had plenty of days, weeks, even months, where I chose not to run. Being told I could not run for the past 8 weeks was very different. Running has become so much a part of me that I couldn’t comprehend the possibility of redefining myself without it. I realize that I’ve spent my whole life taking my health and able body for granted and I came frighteningly close to having it taken away from me. More than the sum of all the things running is and does for me, the ability to run is a gift. Plain and simple. The gift of a healthy, able body which I never again will take for granted.

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