Is someone chasing you??

You know how in gym class they would make you run? And it would really suck? I used to really hate that, and the way the gym teacher would stand in the middle of the track trying to get you to hustle when they weren’t the one huffing and heaving their way around the oval for about the millionth time. It was warm and almost summer and that oval was about the last place I wanted to be. But damned if I’d walk. If you walked, you’d never finish the mile or so that was required. I just wanted it to be over with, so I’d give it a bit of a mediocre shuffle until the drill sergeant said we could quit. By the end, my shins would hurt, my back never felt right, and I hated the world.

The next time I ran, it was with friends. Theron and Lori and I would go to the Student Development Complex and work out. It was to improve our fighting form. (I’ll talk about all the swordplay some other time.) Theron, being ex-army, was in charge of leading the workouts, a component of which was going to be running. This time though, I was running with friends. It was fun. We talked about life, the universe, and everything between huffs and grunts. But I still hurt at the end. I decided to get actual running shoes. I figured the investment in shoes would be worthwhile, even being a Starving College Student, since these workouts were something of a routine and it would be better if I felt like I could survive it.

Those shoes changed everything. Nothing hurt. I was better, faster, stronger. I started running when in the mornings before classes. In winter I’d walk over a mile, in pre-dawn blizzards (no exaggeration), to get to the SDC so that I could run. I still wasn’t going very far, but I found something to enjoy. I was thinking clearer, felt better, and was happier. Things were really good.

Then life changed. It was not pretty. It was one of those break-ups that destroys your whole group of friends and you lose something like 20lbs in two weeks. I had to stop running, just to keep some weight on.

When I’m running, I get time to mentally sort my life out. It’s meditative. With that gone, my mental closet got extremely funky.

Eventually, I was able to eat again, and things weren’t quite so bad. They were still awful and I didn’t think I was going to survive, but that was still a step up. I started running again. At first, it was a bit of an escape, like I could outrun the people inside my head. You can’t outrun people you carry with you. As time went by, I stopped trying to outrun them.

I still wasn’t running far, just a mile or so. I started running outside, on the trail that ran along the water near my apartment down to a park. I started running further, a little at a time. It was warming up at last, and there were flowers blooming. After a little while, the people in my head left me alone.

I ran my first race in October of 2006. It was a 5k Muck run, and there was a costume contest. I wore a French maid outfit, but was soundly beaten in the contest by a dude – wearing a French maid outfit.

I ran into a friend at the end of my run one day. “Is someone chasing you?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said. “I’m running because it feels good.”

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~ by jesstracey on August 17, 2011.

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