Five Magical Motivations to RUN

So many conversations I have had about running over the past few months as I have made modifications to deal with my tachycardia issues have ended (on my part) with some variation of “but I am still grateful.”

My goal of running a 5K in less than 30 minutes is almost certainly not attainable at this point. Maybe if I checked in to a fitness retreat, ate 100% clean for an extended period of time, trained intensively, put my life on hold and went without the medication that slows my heart rate down and makes it feel like I’m running through mud long enough to pull it off it would happen. It’s not realistic, though, time-wise or budget-wise to put my life on hold. I’m doubtful it would be a good choice for my overall health, and the mere fact that cupcakes exist in this world is some type of evidence that it is possible to deny yourself too much!

Motivations For Running

Enjoying Baked by Melissa “Snowstorm” cupcakes after a run!

Jane Mahoney, a runner in the Kerri On: I Run for Remembrance group, a companion group to I Run for Michael in which members run in memory of people’s loved ones, said this today, after describing a run she and some friends had done in memory of a fellow runner and friend who had died of cancer:

Running is a magical thing, giving solitude, peace, friendship, honor and joy to life. ~ Jane Mahoney

In that one sentence, Jane captured the assets of running which have enabled me, one by one, to put a knot in the rope and hang on when I was almost at the end of my rope with running the last few months.

The Solitude of Running

I won’t lie. Despite the social benefits (discussed below), I still love running by myself. Especially since I am a primary caregiver for my father-in-law and almost never have the house to myself, I love being alone. The repetitive footsteps are like meditation for me; my thoughts have a chance to unfurl and wander, and the fresh air is rejuvenating. I also have the pleasure of listening to various Rock My Run mixes (read here for how you can benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by downloading this free app!).

Peace

We have a number of scenic running trails here in Tallahassee. A few weeks ago, I went out by myself and ran the Swamp Forest trail in preparation for last weekend’s Swamp Forest Quarter Marathon. It was just me, the trees, gorgeous views of streams, streaming sunlight; and a few animals skittering and fro. No screens to be stared at, no one who needed anything, just peace.

Motivations For Running

The Swamp Forest Trail. Photo courtesy of Robin Bennett.

Friendship

Everyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for working toward a measurable goal. Even though I had heard about groups running from a local running store every Monday and Thursday night, I had declined to join for several reasons. Once a member told me the group was trying to get to 2016 miles in 2016, though, I was in! I joined them this past Thursday night, and Chris (the leader) said “I’ll stay with you.” Now, I have been told “I’ll stay with you” before and many times that commitment, which was sincerely meant at the time, goes out the window when the individual realizes how slow I am relative to them. Not this time. Chris stayed with me every step of the way, and the miles flew by. Three miles later I had a friend and a reminder of why the running community is second to none.

Motivations For Running

The Capital City Runners 2016 or Bust Group.

Honor

I didn’t attend the Gulf Winds Track Club awards ceremony last night, but as the names of the awardees (which are kept a secret until the ceremony) started rolling in on social media, I was thrilled for so many runners I respect who were recognized for their achievements. Although I am happy for everyone, I am exceedingly happy for my friend Maria Matheu, 2015 Female Runner of the Year. Maria worked so hard this year as she ran every race in the Gulf Winds Track Club Extreme Challenge series. Six of the hard miles were the ones she ran for me smack in the middle of a scorchingly hot Tallahassee summer when we ran from Madison Social to Capital City Runners and back, all for a free beer (okay, it was for more than a free beer but still….). She’s another one who said, “I’ll stay with you” and actually did stay with me. She had already run 8 miles that day, and only someone with a bit of a crazy streak would have headed out in the 100 degree heat index day, much less with someone who is going to take FOREVER to get it done. Maria proved (to me) who she was that day. She was (is) a friend. She honored her commitment. No one in our club deserves this award more than she does.

Motivations For Running

2015 Gulf Winds Track Club Female Runner of the Year, Maria Matheu

Joy

So much of 2015  has been spent staring at the screen of my Garmin, trying to figure out if my heart rate was going to behave or not. Over the past two months, it was reading exceptionally high. Skipping past the frantic calls I made to the pharmacist (is this batch of beta blockers bad?) and my electrophysiologist (WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!), it turns out my Garmin sensor needed to be replaced. Everything is still not perfect, but the malfunctioning electronics had me in a misguided  mental (and emotional) spiral of “this is never going to get resolved.” I have a new strap/sensor which seems to be recording correctly. When I ran with Chris Thursday night, I didn’t look at my Garmin for the whole run. Not fixating on my HR allowed me to be more open to the whole reason we do this: JOY.

Lastly, in addition to those five reasons, my son has started joining me at running events again. This may be pushing me even farther away from a sub-30 finish than my medical issues have, but it has me speeding toward something much more important: miles, memories, and, like Jane, a magical thing.

Motivations For Running

Billy Bowlegs 5K. Photo courtesy of Fred Deckert.

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My Favorite 2012 Olympic Moments

I am sorry that the Olympics are ending tonight. They have stolen a few hours of sleep from me over the past couple of weeks – nights when I could not tear myself away even when I knew the results.

Here are a few Olympians who made an impression this year:

Nate Brannen

Nathan is a Canadian runner who lived here in Tallahassee for a while, and co-founded Capital City Runners. His second Olympics, running the 1500, did not end as he hoped. He fell in the semifinals, got his calf sliced up by another runner’s spikes, and came back to finish 12th out of 13th in that race. I am heartbroken that he did not have the finish he dreamed of but I am floored and awed by his class and valor in finishing the way he did. Someday when his daughter is old enough to understand, she will know she comes from persistent stock! (An interview with Nate is here and another writer’s perspective is expressed here.)

Photo Credit: Nate Brannen’s Facebook Page

 Oscar Pistorius

There was copious coverage of Oscar Pistorius, who ran the semifinals of the 400 meter race as a double amputee, on carbon fiber prostheses. When the winner of the semifinal race, Kirani James of Grenada, tapped Pistorius on the chest and traded bibs, I loved the moment (I also wondered how they got their numbers off so fast because I have never been able to get a race bib off without getting a safety pin stuck in the thing!!). I learned a lot from this article about Pistorius.  I also learned a bit of the backstory behind this image that has been viral on social media:

Ellie May Challis has a new fan (and so does Oscar Pistorius).

Beth Tweddle

At 27, Beth Tweddle won a bronze medal in the uneven bars, representing Great Britain. Her appearance was not something I had “caught” in the steady stream of spoilers throughout the day on social media. She has won a European Championship, a World Championship, and 4th at the Beijing Olympics. According to this article, she has had six broken ankles, three broken shoulders, and both cheekbones smashed (ouch).This was her last chance to represent Great Britain, and she did so in fine form! To be 27 and capable of competing in the Olympics is such a big deal, physically. When my daughter was a competitive gymnast, I saw young women with overuse injuries and other insults to their bodies that they will deal with forever. I have read of college gymnasts who have had hip replacements. I can only imagine the sacrifices Beth Tweddle has made to keep competing, a course that began when her parents enrolled her in gymnastics at the age of 9 to keep her quiet! Her hard work paid off.

Source: Bing Images

Muhammad Ali said, “he who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” I salute these three Olympians who personified everything that is right about the Olympic spirit.