I've always claimed, quite adamantly, that I'm not a runner. I wasn't built for it, I simply don't have the endurance levels in me to go put one foot in front of another one for any significant amount of time. It's hard. Oh, there it is. The truth. The reason I've never claimed the title is that it's hard.
I'm lots of things during the day. Sometimes I'm a dish washer. Sometimes I'm a laundress. Sometimes I'm a lover. Sometimes I'm a sister. And there are days when for the better part of an hour, I'm a runner.
Tonight between the distractions dancing in my ears I could hear my feet rhythmically hitting the pavement. I could feel that my legs were stronger and more capable to propel me forward, eager to go a little further than I did before. I could hear that my breathing was steady and wasn't as labored as it was last week. My lungs aren't burning like they did. My distance is embarrassingly short, but it's mine. My body did it and it couldn't have done it two weeks ago.
I had my coaches whispering things in my head. My dad was reminding me to keep my arms lower and not so tense, to lengthen my stride when going downhill. Jaime said to keep my steps short when on an incline and to pump my arms, they'll keep my legs going when they want to quit. Diane whispered that slow and steady is always good enough. I could see in Denten's eyes that with every block my body was getting fitter, firmer and I like to feel like that to him.
I'm a long way from any sort of race distance, but I'm closer than I've been in 4 years. While a morning run is a fantastic way to start my day, it isn't always possible with the schedule we're keeping around here. Sometimes it has to wait until the day is coming to a close. Seven-thirty comes around in the evenings and it is very tempting to shed my day, find my pajamas and indulge in the quiet of my house. Sometimes reaching for my running clothes is difficult. I don't feel like I've got it in me at the end of the day to push myself physically, or mentally, 'cause let's face it- this is a mental deal for me. But I'm usually surprised that once I'm moving, I want to keep moving. I want time to clear my head, to focus on breathing in and out and occasionally remind myself that singing while running isn't a great idea. I shed my long-sleeves (this weather is incredible) and can feel my hair swinging on my back. It used to bug me to have my hair long when I ran. I like it right now.
I like that my body fat percentage is dropping, I like coming to the end of my route and picturing that stretch in Bar Harbor when I'm approaching the park. I come around the corner through the trees and see Dent, Kate and Wade up ahead cheering for me. They've been done for quite some time, but they don't rub it in. They somehow know that this is a feat for me and are nothing but supportive. I feel my pace pick up and push myself to go as fast as I can. I feel the exhilaration that I did it. My body is the good kind of exhausted. There will be days when it hurts and when I don't want to do this anymore so I want to remind myself that persistence pays off and that it will become more comfortable and that the rewards are worth the effort.
And then I walk down my street breathing deeply, grateful for the air that fills my lungs. I turn up my driveway and pause for just a second before entering my house. For now I'm no longer a runner. I'm back to another role: wife, or mother, or housekeeper. And they're good too.