My first run outdoors was a bit of a rude awakening. My feet weren’t hitting the ground right, my breathing wasn’t in rhythm, the songs in my playlist weren’t energetic enough, and my side ached after the first hill, over the pedestrian bridge from the stadium to the North Bottoms.
When my boyfriend Michael, who was running next to me, told me it didn’t matter how fast I went up the final bridge back to the Haymarket, but that I kept putting one foot in front of the other, I felt a little like punching him and a little like pushing on.
I chose the latter, and when we got home, I was caught somewhere between exhaustion, defeat, and triumph. It was sloppy, but I did it. I went for a run.
My weekly schedule now includes at least two runs, and though I often have a running buddy or two to help me push through, I’m finding that I actually look forward to my time on the pavement.
In fact, I find it much easier to push myself out on the trails (or the sidewalks, or whatever). Even when I tell myself, “you can walk once you reach that sign up there,” I often decide to keep jogging anyway, determined to make each run better than the next.
This run was the one that did it for me. The one that made me feel like a runner.
I scoped out a route that would take me to some sort of park and was somewhere between 3 and 5 miles, then Michael and our friend Ethan joined me for a late evening jaunt. I felt good from the beginning, and even talked with them for the first several blocks. Even when they ran ahead a bit, I kept repeating that mantra I wanted to punch Michael for saying just weeks ago and jogged on with my eyes on them in the distance up ahead.
When we hit the John Dietrich trail, it was getting dark, but the crushed limestone under my feet was a welcome change. It gave me a little more motivation to keep going — and, yeah, so did the thought of losing the boys out alone in the trees.
When we finished, I pulled my phone out of my FlipBelt and checked Strava: 4.5 miles. That’s about 1.4 more than I’d ever done before. A new PR, and a new outlook on a sport I’d been afraid to try in all my 28 years.
I’m a runner now.