Flashback to 1996. I’m in middle school, wear really unattractive khakis and clogs, and like to hide out in the library (and occasionally cry in the carrels because oh my lord, it’s middle school). I’ve never been an athletic kid and this year in gym class, a new horror is presented: I have to run the mile.
Okay, it’s not just me–everyone in our class has to run 11 laps around the gym, which equals a mile. Some kids finish in no time at all. Others (cough me cough) are left gasping and struggling until the end of gym class, after which there’s barely any time to change so I arrive at my next class sweaty and red-faced. I mentally curse all gym teachers, all athletes, and anyone who ever thought a mile was a reasonable distance to make a nerdy middle schooler run.
Flashforward to last weekend. I willingly wake up at 5am, head to downtown Boston in the cold and rain to gather with a few thousand other people so we can all run 13.1 miles.
Middle school Annie would be shocked.
I started running a couple of years ago after my gym offered a running class for newbies. I found that I liked it and started running 5ks, then challenged myself with a 10k. Last fall, I was in a running rut and decided I should sign up for a half-marathon so I’d have to really challenge myself. I had to get up early, schedule running time on the weekend, deal with setbacks like sickness or foot pain. But when last Sunday rolled around, I felt ready and wanted to cross that finish line.
I actually got kind of emotional heading down that last .1 mile. The race was in honor of fallen MA police officers, like Officer Sean Collier, who had originally signed up to run the race. After the Boston Marathon bombings, I think a lot of local runners felt like this was a particularly meaningful race.
But I also got emotional thinking about how I never expected to run this far. For me, having never been athletic and not being used to pushing myself physically, this was a big experience.
It also got me thinking about writing goals. I know a lot of people talk about writing and running, and do so much better than I could, but the process is similar. You have to get up early or sacrifice some of your weekend hours. You may need to shower or eat lots of sandwiches afterward. Problems pop up all the time (knee pain, plot holes, etc.). It’s easy to say the weather/coffee’s not right and make excuses, but it doesn’t get the work done. Just getting out there/in front of the computer can be daunting, especially when your goal seems so far ahead of you. But the work builds and matters. Every step you take, every word you write, is bringing you closer to your goal. Maybe it’s a goal that you never thought you could achieve, but you can get there. Little by little, you can cross that finish line.
Another way running is like writing–a lot of time spent working is time alone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a supportive community. So high five to all you readers who are working hard and making strides to your goals!
11 thoughts on “Making Strides”
I like running as a way to keep healthy as well as a way to clear my head. Murakami runs too, and I think he wrote something too, about the Boston marathon.. I don’t remember where.
I like blogging precisely for that reason you mentioned: supportive community.
I don’t like marathons (yet) though— I started a 10-mile run once, along with some classmates from uni. I was the only one who didn’t finish. I think I had 2.5 miles left, but I just couldn’t finish. Thinking about it makes me feel exhausted.. lol.
I think Murakami wrote a book about running, too! And I think running 7.5 miles is still a major accomplishment.
Annie– this totally brought tears to my eyes!! So proud of you, for your running AND your writing accomplishments! Looking forward to seeing you run a full marathon one day (and publishing lots more writing 🙂
Aww, thanks Stephanie! 🙂 Whenever I’m feeling bad about running or want to make excuses, I think “What would Stephanie tell you?” and get motivated.
This is absolutely lovely. I actually thought that first photo was you in middle-school at first, ha ha!
Thanks, Catherine! And if it’s possible, I was even dorkier in middle school than I am in that first photo. 😉
I love this-I, too was a nerdy middle schooler, who later hid it by being an artsy smoker in high school. I never would have willingly run anywhere. Now I lead a running club for my library and have done 2 1/2 marathons. Isn’t it amazing the way we can surprise even ourselves?
A library running club = most awesome thing ever. And high five to your 2.5 marathons!
Ha-that is two half marathons btw. Not two and a half marathons. No credit where note due, but thanks!
Congratulations on finishing! I’ve just started to get into running. I’ve started the Couch to 5K program so my goal is to finish it and sign up for a 5K. 🙂