Tales of a Part-Time Runner

| June 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

I ran my first half-marathon last September.  I wasn’t particularly fast, but my goal had been to finish in around two hours, and I crossed the line at 2:02, ahead of the middle-aged guy I’d been mentally racing for the last mile and a half.  I was happy.  So happy.  Runner’s high is real, people.


After the race, my running schedule was random and aimless—without a specific goal, I struggled to push myself, especially as the weeks wore on and the midterms and papers started piling up.  After Christmas, I decided I needed something to train for again, so I found a half-marathon in June and hit the road.  When the new semester started, I did all right at first, squeezing in evening runs and even getting back into strength training at the gym.  My new roommate was a dedicated swimmer, so that probably helped motivate me to stay active as well.

But it got harder.  The winter was harsh, with frigid temperatures and storm after storm.  I skipped some long runs because the path along the Esplanade was often coated with ice and I couldn’t stand the thought of running around the indoor track at FitRec for two hours.  Once, I went out for a run without checking the wind chill first.  Four miles in, I couldn’t feel my hands, and the wind was merciless. I finally made it home and sat shivering in the shower for almost half an hour.  But I didn’t quit.

Well, I didn’t quit yet.  Things were becoming much more difficult at this point.  I had a full schedule and some draining family issues to juggle.  The days were short and cold and dark, and I was tired and discouraged.  I kept trying, but I started falling further and further behind in my training plan.  As much as I hate to admit it, it was a relief when I realized that, if I decided to pursue the summer camp jobs I was looking into, a June race wouldn’t be possible.

This isn’t a very good inspirational story, is it?  People with more challenges than I have had performed much more impressive feats than the one I gave up on.  I did keep running after I stopped training, but I’m still pretty disappointed and out of shape.

But the Boston Athletic Association half-marathon is in October, and fellow Culture Shocker Ceci Weddell and I are running—we pinky promised, so there’s no backing out now.  I started training last week.  It has been slow and painful.  I feel no stronger than I did a year ago, which is frustrating, and the hills around my house in Pennsylvania are killer after running along the Charles for months.

Now my feet don't hurt.

My cool new shoes are boosting my motivation too.

But even at my most discouraged, I realize that feeling only as strong as I was one year ago is better than feeling like I did when I started running two years ago after months of being sick and weak.  On my first time out, I managed to jog exactly one mile and I thought it might kill me.  So even though I may have taken some steps back recently, I’ve still taken a lot of steps forward.

Sometimes I’m really bad at remembering that.  Preparing for a race is almost harder the second time around because I have expectations now.  And I’m not meeting them.  Training last year was actually less grueling than I had expected, but it still wasn’t as easy as my selective memory would like to suggest—it’s easy to remember the high of having successfully completed a 13.1 mile race while forgetting exactly how much work went into preparing for it.  So I’m getting there, but I’m still trying to accept that this is where I am right now.

I’m no Meb, and I never will be.  But I am miles (literally) ahead of where I started, and for now that’s enough to keep me running.

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Category: featured, Sports

Emily Hurd

About the Author ()

Emily is a special education major from a tiny town in southern Pennsylvania. She's a firm believer in the virtues of art-making, rambling discussion, and consuming excessive amounts of both coffee and tea. Her other interests include reading and writing poetry, poking around in abandoned houses, and procrastinating indefinitely. Her proudest moment involved replacing the word "oil" on construction signs with "fish" so that the signs in question read "fresh fish and chips."

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