I Am a Runner

I just logged 10 miles.  10 hard miles. I am a runner.  I am one of those crazy people you see early in the morning in the middle of winter outside in sub freezing temperatures. I am the one you see on the road drenched in sweat and sun burnt on a hot August afternoon. I pound the pavement every day for at least an hour, often longer.  Running is in my blood. It is an obsession and an addiction. It is who I am and a discipline that guides my life.

I began running at the age of 14. As a freshman in high school I learned that if I joined an athletic team I did not have to take gym class.  I hated dodge ball.  Rope climbing was even worse. So I joined cross-country.  Plus- no cuts.

5ks were out of the question when I started- two blocks was it. Serious doubts crept in before the end of my first run. I finished second to last in my first 5k. 90 girls crossed the line before me. But my coach still congratulated me and, offering a big smile, told me I was not “a runner.” But I discovered that day how much I loved the challenge.    I guess at some point during that race I learned that finishing is much more satisfying than winning.  I also learned I was able to accomplishing something almost by sheer desire and will. I did not have speed or grace but I did have tenacity and if that is what it was going to take to cross a finish line then running was my new sport.

I have carried the label runner throughout my adult life. I have run a multitude of 10ks, a few half marathons and a total of 7 marathons. But like in high school, it is not the races (nor the collection of t-shirts I have acquired) that drives me out the door and onto the road each morning. I run because I can. I don’t need to be athletically gifted, nor do I need special equipment or training to run. All I need is a sturdy pair of running shoes and the desire to take the first step. It is enormously satisfying to rely solely on one self, set a goal and by sheer determination move forward. It is a philosophy that guides me in all other aspects of my life.

Running, of course, has many other benefits.  It provides me with much needed “alone time” as a wife, mother, occasional lawyer and now actor. It allows me to blow off non-productive anger. It allows me to daydream about seemingly unobtainable goals and then gives me time to think about ways to make those dreams realities.

Fast-forward many years since that first 5k. I now have two boys in high school. They love me and need me, but they are starting to benefit more from independence than constant attention. I have therefore dipped my toes back into acting, my passion in childhood and college. Lots of rejection. Grueling work. No one understands really why I am doing it. Kind of like running.

Today, I’m an Artist In Residence at Halcyon Theater. I have an additional and different focus. My passions intersect. While I run, I daydream about ways to create, educate and bring forth stories and projects to the stage and the world.   I have found that my runs have increased in distance since becoming attached to Halcyon and I don’t think it is a random coincidence. I need more time to daydream about incredible projects this inspiring and dynamic group of people can put forth!  Maybe I should blame my new calf pain on this theater company!

My running shoes are my therapists and running is my sanity preservation. It gets me outside in the fresh air, which is something that I, love, need and appreciate no matter what the weather is. As long as my body will allow me, I will run every day and continue to focus not on the finish line but rather on the journey each run takes. One more thing, it serves as a great cover up for dietary sins! If this blog has inspired you in any way to tie your laces and hit the road I would happily be thanked in jellybeans!