Well, here I am on another half marathon eve. The night before a big race is always a time of crazed preparation and reflection. It usually goes something like this, "what do you mean it's going to be 20 degrees colder tomorrow morning than anything I've trained in!" and "Why the hell do I do this?". So after several hours of crazed preparation I decided to jot down a few of the reasons that I run.
Six months ago when I signed up to run 13.1 miles on the 1st day of November, I did it for forced therapy. I knew I was walking into the most stressful time of my life with personal challenges the size of Everest. I said to my friend, "I think I need to sign up for a race so I run more than I drink to get through this." And it worked. Sure, I've had a few bottles of wine and cocktails in the last 6 months but it's always in the context of how will this impact my run.
On some really challenging days, I ran twice in a day. A run in the morning to get myself out of bed and facing the day and a run in the evening to cleanse my worried soul so I could actually sleep.
2. Self Discipline
You don't know self discipline until you've spent an hour or two alone on a road putting one foot in front of the other. On days that are scorching hot, on days that you had to bring a flashlight because it's dark-thirty in the morning, on days when your legs are so tired you can barely feel them. And every time you do it you've fulfilled a promise to yourself. You become more trustworthy. And if all else fails in humanity, it would be nice to at least trust yourself.
3. Prayer Time
God and I do lots of chats while I'm running. I know He's always there hanging out with me anyway, might as well use the time wisely and discuss some things. And sometimes it's the chance to see the most beautiful sunrise, or the first few blooms of the season, or the fog burning off to start the day. Running has shared God's creation with me over and over and over again. And each time I say thank you, out loud. And sometimes I'm thankful that I live in the country because I can sob and cry and scream and leave it all out on the road.
4. To Hear Myself Think
Some of my best clarity on creative endeavors, business problems, or deciphering the world of teens has happened during a run. When everything else gets tuned out and I can finally hear myself think. My mind can be a scary place to be alone with for those hours on the road. We wrestle and think and cuss and discuss. And sometimes I dream and create and wonder and plan.
5. To Not Hear Myself Think
Some days the only thing I want to hear is a pounding playlist thumping through my earbuds and the sound of my feet hitting the pavement. No thinking allowed, just running as hard and fast as I can push my body to go.
6. The Friendship
Not all runs are solo runs. Sometimes it's not enough to have the self discipline, you need someone waiting for you at the corner at dark-thirty to get your butt out of bed. And if you're training for a race and need to be on a schedule, you better have a buddy, and a reliable one. And it helps to have a really positive person waiting on you at the corner that will be smiling the knowing smile of, "yep we're crazy, now let's do this." and someone that will see you struggling and say, "Come on, you got this."
7. The Challenge
For tomorrow's race, I'll be running with my friend who will be running her first half marathon. I've been with her for all the firsts of new distance. The look on her face when she did her first 6 miles, then 8, then 10, 11 and 12 and tomorrow 13.1. The determination and the strength and the joy, it's absolutely contagious.
And actually tomorrow's race is a bit of a gamble for me because I'm injured with IT Band syndrome and there's a possibility that after training for 6 months and pounding out hundreds of miles to prepare, I may not be able to run tomorrow at all. But still, I go to the race expo and pick up my packet and I prepare like it's all going to be okay. And tomorrow morning at 5am, I'll suit up, pick up my buddy at the corner and we'll drive to the start line. Because life is mostly about showing up. And if I don't get to run or finish the race, I'll still have gotten all the benefit from the preparation.