In the 1980's I was given a gift. I gave it to myself. I started running. I used to watch a girl I knew from high school run around the neighborhood. I always thought she looked so cool. So I decided to try it. I didn't have an inhaler back then so the longest I could run would be about a mile. I would watch her and dream that some day that would be me.
I started using an inhaler in 1984. It was the magic mist I needed to keep me feeling good if my asthma got out of hand. I didn't run great distances then but I did run. Maybe a mile or a mile and a half.
During the 90's my husband started a second job as security for concerts. He was also coaching football which left a lot time to myself. We were married young and most of my girlfriends were still doing the bar scene. I was never comfortable with that. I had a habit of drinking more than I should and then saying something so stupid that it would haunt me for weeks. Other friends, like my sister were having babies and most of us know that new mothers are in an entirely different world than someone without children. That was when running became my friend. Sure I would go to the health club with Cin and we would run the indoor track and talk but like I said she had her single life. The streets in my neighbor would fill my time with something to do. Besides, having alone time can be filled with a lot of eating and TV. I would run and think, and pray, and sing. Remember the Sony walkmans that held the cassette tapes? I would carrying it with me on the long runs. We are so spoiled now. My first marathon I trained for in snow and grey cotton sweat pants. Trudging thru snow up to my calves, I didn't know any differently. I think that's why I hate using weather as an excuse when I do poorly in a run. Because when starting out I just thought the weather was something you ran in no matter what. Hot, cold, snowy, icy, slushy, didn't matter. Running was my friend I could count on. It never let me down.
I got used to being alone out there. I liked it that way. Even when a friend asked me to join the CARA marathon training team. I baulked at the thought but then remembered the marathon that past fall. I bonked big time and never wanted to let that happen again. I ended up in a faster pace group than my friend and never really felt comfortable with the people in my pace group. Don't get me wrong, they were very nice but I think I was just used to running alone. Ok, this is getting long and I really have a point to all this please bare with me. Just one more thing about being alone. I've been kind of shy my whole life. Afraid I'll say the wrong thing so I usually kept to myself. Never liked meeting new people. I stayed at the same job for almost 12 years because of that fear.
Just after the kids were born I joined the tri club. I needed to do something other than talk to the grandmas. It was just what I needed. I think I went to every talk the club had that summer. I never went to any of the runs, swims or rides tho. The group was way to fast for me and I didn't need to embarress myself. Beside, I could run just fine alone.
Well, some how, I volunteered myself as president to the club. I must have had a strange lapse in judgement. Tri-mates please don't take offense to that comment. But for me to agree to that, well like I said above, I've always been on the shy side out of fear of saying something really stupid. Before I knew it I was training with the "Big Dogs". And realizing I was missing out on a whole lot. I let my fear rob me of sharing my love for running.
I have met some of the nicest people I know. I have memories with these guys that are priceless. I can remember the first time I met each and everyone of them. Calling them by the wrong name for a couple of weeks and no one caring. Getting my friends lost on long runs and they would just laugh about it. I'm sure they were thinking, ok, we were only supposed to do 10 not 15. I thought I had it good back then, by myself.
Who knew back in 1993, as I ran alone, counting the miles down that 15 years later I would be running with a group and literally laughing the miles away. That I would have friends that would "watch my back", replace broken yax trax, share absolutely beautiful poetry or give me a light to run with when it is 5:30 in the morning. Thank you tri-mates. My gift of running has given me more than I could have ever imagined. My life is truly blessed.