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I Don't Love the Medal, But I Sure Do Love the T-Shirt.

I check the clock again and quickly do the math in my head. Four hours, thirty-seven minutes until the race begins.
There is a large fly buzzing around my ceiling. As he flutters from corner to corner of the bedroom, I imagine his large black eyes staring down at me lying in my bed.  I think I can hear him laughing.  Suddenly, he is laughing  at me.  “Silly girl,” he giggles.  “Who told you this was a good idea?”
“You’re right,” I think to myself.
I have been drifting in and out of sleep since 1:30am.  When I am not staring at the ceiling, or getting up to use the bathroom (all while trying not to wake my partner, who is sleeping soundly and un-anxiously beside me),  I am having half conscious dreams. These dreams are neither good nor bad.  I dream of lining up, seeing the crowds of people all around me, hearing these people yelling my name, or worse, in these dreams I hear them yelling at me to “hurry up!” or “slow down!”, or “take some of this water here now!”
I grab my phone and turn off the alarm I had set for 5:30am.  I begrudgingly tell myself, “I may as well get up now, at least this way if I can’t keep my breakfast down, I’ll have time enough to use my OWN toilet”.
Forty eight hours prior to the writing of this piece, I ran 13.1 miles…ON PURPOSE.
You see three months ago, a fellow graduate classmate of mine, who is a fairly seasoned runner, asked me if I would be interested in running a half marathon with her.
My initial reaction, better described as the internal dialogue with myself, went some thing like this:
Me: Run 13.1 miles? Fuck no.  Well, maybe if I was 25lbs lighter and still 21. But do it at 31?  Hell no.
Despite my initial horror at the thought of this, I pushed aside any and all reservations, paid my $50 registration fee and officially entered myself into the race.
Thus began my three month long training.
So for 82 days {but really who was counting}, I turned my life over to training. My google calendar became filled with training schedules, long runs, short runs, rest days, and cross training days.  I learned about what to eat, when to eat it and more importantly when NOT to eat it {despite this knowledge I still came down with an AWFUL case of the “trots” on race day}.  I ordered myself a subscription to Runner’s World magazine, which I placed in a neat stack next to my toilet, and religiously read it from cover to cover daily {and so did everyone else who entered my powder room}. Hours were spent searching the internet for tips on form, speed, race days, clothing, sneakers, fuel and what I would learn would have the most significance and truth: articles on the world’s obsession with running.
Everyone in my life was subjected to my training.  My partner and I had to plan our weekends, including what we did, what I ate, and when I ate it, around my long runs.  {This planning unfortunately included limiting my consumption of weekend adult beverages} My roommates were also subjected.  I dragged my roommate around on runs. Although she was learning to enjoy running on her own, {and for her own reasons unrelated to half-marathon training}  it’s safe to assume she most likely did not enjoy my constant “advice” about every thing she did that even slightly related to running. {But c’mon, I was an EXPERT now! Why wouldn’t everyone need my advice?}  My family, who lives at least an hour away from me, eventually got used to not seeing me. They also assimilated to my repeated decline of weekend family gathering invitations that  always ended with: “Nope, sorry, can’t. I have a long run planned on Sunday, you understand”.
But did anyone understand?  Did anyone understand what was possessing me? After all, what person in their right mind would find spending hours upon hours, sweating, breathing heavily, and the feeling of aching joints and cramping muscles enjoyable?
I did.
My body and mind became stronger. I pushed myself to do things I never would have thought I could do before, and each time I completed a new goal, I celebrated myself.
See, it has been a slow love affair between me and running. I started to “run” almost three years ago, while trying to fight off a serious and often messy depression.  My mind back then was clouded, I was stubborn, and quite frankly exhausted from living. I didn’t find the same joy in running then that I do now. I was not able to see then the powerful effect running can have. Despite this, I stuck with it and began to feel the positive effects. {No…not weight loss, not stronger muscles.}  I’m talking dopamine. Nothing can compete with the high you feel after you run faster, or longer than you did before. Nothing beats the feeling you have after you muster the physical and mental energy required to get your butt out the door to run, even on your worst of days.
That same chemical is released when we do drugs, eat chocolate, orgasm, and…fall in love.
For most of my life I struggled to “love” anything, including myself. Then I laced up a pair of sneakers. That’s when I learned to let myself feel love. Love for the sport, and most importantly…love for myself.

4 responses to “I Don't Love the Medal, But I Sure Do Love the T-Shirt.”

  1. llxt llxt says:

    You {were} such a good trainer for me, and I miss you very much! (not just for that reason, but mostly…) I need the encouragement, the reminders, the Needham streets… I was so spoiled. Why did I ever leave {YOU}???

  2. Owen Owen says:

    Awesome! I had a similar experience the first time I ran a half marathon. I was 30 and had never run more than 3-4 miles. But it's such a great way to test yourself — not just on the day of the race, but on every single one of those days when you just don't want to put on sneakers and run. Builds such mental and physical strength. Congrats!

    • Avatar kfrayz says:

      Thanks Owen. Running does build physical strength, but NOTHING prepared me for the mental gains I would make!

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