A week and a half ago, I ran six miles for the first time. I was alone, running along the Tennessee River, drenched from the humidity when the Map My Run robot voice told me I had done it. It was a quiet and monumental occasion.
What has compelled me, a recovering lazy bones, to ever accomplish such a thing? Have I become a runner?
A long- long, long- time ago, I would have considered myself athletic. I played soccer for over ten years when I was younger, but when college hit, all the newness sort of shocked my being, and over time, activity and sport faded out of my life.
After graduation, however, I was shocked in a different way. Those years were about survival, and it became vital that I start doing something that was good for me. The mountains nearby beckoned me, and hiking in the Smokies became something I had to do to counter all the ways I didn't know how to be an adult. It became a necessity.
Gradually other activities started creeping in, things I could easily incorporate into my life without feeling like I was exercising, such as walking and swimming. It was important that I didn't feel like I was intentionally exercising. I had to trick myself or else I ran the risk of jumping ship.
But then some friends convinced me to go on a group run that started at a bar and ended back there with discounted beer. The Beer Run.
I remember the first time I went, I said out loud that I felt like an impostor. It had been so long since I had run, I felt like a fake.
It was a funny thing to say, I know, but whenever I do new things, my brain tells me I have no business being there. Only from experience do I know I'll get over that feeling and most likely enjoy the thing I was nervous about. In this case, the reward of discounted beer and camaraderie worked wonders for me. I started going weekly, walking a lot at first, and eventually becoming somewhat... decent. It was a strange thing to realize, but this thing called exercise was actually fun. (Ew!)
My sisters live in Memphis and are part of a running club lovingly named the Schweddy Belles. They run all the time with this group, finding community among the members. While the Beer Run I go to isn't a club, I can relate to the desire for community in this area. No one forces me to run on Mondays, but somehow I feel more of a pull to do it, just because others are. It also offers an excitement by showing me that, amidst other life failures, "Why yes, indeed! I am improving at something."
So I come back around to why I was running six miles in the dead of summer: My sister convinced me to run a half marathon this September.
I've been asked to run half marathons in the past but always said no. It's been a gradual change, but this build up over the years has worked to change my mind. And, let's be honest, I also knew training for this would curb my natural inclination to drink margaritas on pool rafts all summer long. My lazy bones have become crazy bones. I am a runner!
... at least until September 12.