I was 15 years old when, after suddenly sparking an interest in running, I joined my high school’s XC team. Part of me wants to cross out that last sentence and rewrite it, “I was 15 years old when, after suddenly sparking an interest in running, I started my high school’s XC team.” I was the only person at the first practice and, not having a strong background in running, I struggled to keep up with my coach on that first day.
Running was so exciting to me. It was new to me, and challenging, and it made me feel really healthy and strong and independent. I was the epitome of the Nike ads that were running in sports magazines at the time that were speaking to young females (like myself) to play sports. I learned to eat well, I took my schoolwork seriously, and as I developed into a young woman, my future began to unfold in the brightest of positive lights.
Every practice revealed something new and every meet I ran a little better. As the years went by, my longer runs got longer, my fastest times got faster and before I knew it, I had run in a couple road marathons, a 50K trail marathon, a handful of half marathons, God knows how many 5Ks and 10Ks. I won medals for winning, for qualifying, for finishing. And then one day I stepped into the triathlon arena where I started all over again. It was a whole new ball game and I had a lot to learn. And then. I won 2nd place in one of the most challenging races I’ve ever entered.
I’m more than twice the age I was when I started running, and I find myself back at (near enough to) the beginning. And I find it discouraging enough to struggle through a run, remembering what I used to be during my glory days, and not giving myself the props for getting back out there, for continuing, for expanding upon the journey for one more run, one more year, one more race.
This weekend I decided that I needed to start over. Sure, my fitness is not what it was that late summer day in 1996. Back then I had no idea what I was doing, or what to expect, or that having cotton mouth on a long run wouldn’t mean immediate death. Hell, a long run is no longer defined as ten minutes ore more.
I want a chance to set some new PRs. I want to give myself permission to be excited that I was able to run 5 miles without stopping! I want to be excited about finishing a half marathon again. I want to feel wonderful that I ran a marathon and remove the [yeah but I didn't swim 2.4 miles and then bike 112 miles beforehand].
I want to feel good about finishing. I want to get excited about races again because there’s a chance – a good one – that I could set a new PR!
Yes, my body is different than it was when I was 15. I’m a full-grown woman now. With a lot of experience under her belt. A handful of medals hanging on her closet door. Education and training on the forefront of her mind. I’d like a comeback; a chance to be great again because being great starts with feeling great and feeling great comes only after permission is given to start.
So. This is me. Getting ready for my first practice of the new season.
I wonder what kind of PRs I will be setting this year?