February 17, 2014
I Ran a Half Marathon!
Ballet Dancers Rehearse, by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1936
On Sunday morning I woke up around 5 AM, along with 18,000 other people, and ran 13.1 miles. It was the furthest I’ve ever run by a full four miles! The first time our group met to train, about seven months ago, we ran two miles and I thought I was going to keel over. It was so hard! I’d love to tell you more about the training, why I now love waking up early and running on Saturdays, and how it totally changed my approach to exercise and fitness.
I should first tell you that I’m not someone who considers themselves a runner. I was most excited about joining because it meant I could justify buying some Lululemon pants and catch up with Meagan for an hour on Saturday mornings. But then I really started loving it. I loved our group of people of all ages and walks of life, all body types and experience levels. I loved that we got up when it was still dark on Saturdays and met to run 3, 5, 6, 11 miles together as a group.
Meagan and I talked our way through seven months of running—through job offers, her new baby girl, all five seasons of Breaking Bad, my struggles and success with freelance work, birthdays, party planning, and the ups and downs of everyday life. And we made new friends who shared with us about their wedding plans, their bad knees, their Match.com profile pictures and their summer vacations. In a way, it felt like a support group for everyday life. Each week, no matter what had happened Monday through Friday, on Saturday morning I would wake up and meet with this group and we would run and laugh and struggle together.
It was amazing how quickly the time went by, before I knew it we had run a few miles and it was time for breakfast tacos. It made me realize that my workout routines need to be fun, that I push myself way more when I’m with a group, and that having a friend to hold me accountable makes all the difference in whether or not I even show up. So, even though we’ll take a break from training until September, I’m going to keep those things in mind as I start to build an off-season routine for the spring and summer. I’m thinking a yoga class, a jog with a friend and some tennis with Adam sounds like a fun, sustainable weekly routine.
There were some great signs out yesterday but the one I loved most was “I’m proud of you, random stranger.” It was funny, but it was also true. I felt proud of everyone that was out there doing this amazing thing, and to hear strangers cheering me on when I wanted to quit gave me chills. Here it is: running with a group reminds me that we’re all in this together. Not just this run, but this life. In our current world of constant distraction we’re hardly making time to meet someone new much less give a kind word to a stranger. So often we’re far too concerned with making plans, being busy, proving and comparing ourselves to make real connections with others. What a relief it is to stop and see our sameness. To take just a minute on Saturday morning to remember that we’re all in this together.
Wherever you’re from, whatever you look like, whatever you do for a living—I’m proud of you, random stranger.