* Photos by Tory Putnam
My relationship with running has been a bit of an odd one. I ran track and cross country in middle school and although I had a few wins in the 800, I was never a team favorite or expected to be a star in high school. I was the kid who loved the timed running events in gym class – I remember getting a thrill from pushing it amongst the rest of my unenthused competition and even during field hockey in high school, I didn’t mind the practices full of running hills and mile after mile after we lost a game (and my freshmen year, we lost pretty much every single one). I was a bit of a dabbler growing up – I enjoyed being involved and active, but I didn’t quite have a thing.
But then I switched to a new horseback riding barn, got my first horse and started showing competitively and suddenly I had a thing. And that was my focus. And the rest faded away. And it remained that way through college where I rode on team and balanced classes and working at a restaurant with riding client horses for a local trainer as a working student. But then a year after school I found myself moving out to Chicago and suddenly that thing of mine wasn’t accessible any longer. So what was a girl to do? Why not sign up for a half marathon.
I was blissfully naive about the whole running thing – I didn’t really know many runners or much about what running that distance would be like but I felt up for anything so I dusted off my ancient pair of Asics, found a training plan online and began figuring things out mile after mile. A few days before race day I started feeling very sick but I had decided that I was dragging myself through those 13.1 miles no matter what, so I did, finishing my first half marathon with a rather terrible time, and as I would later find out, a pneumonia. It was the opposite of the running bliss I had imagined but instead of being disappointed and calling it a wash, I decided to get my revenge on running. So I signed up for 2 more half marathons. And the Chicago Marathon.
I became a runner more through stubbornness than true passion – I liked the thrill of pushing my body and the independence and escape that a long run provided, but after Chicago Marathon #2, something changed. I didn’t want to do it anymore. There was no rush to sign up for my next race or competitiveness to break any PRs. The thrill was gone, and I moved on.
It’s been about a year and a half since I last considered myself a runner. There have been a few dabbles back into running but to be honest, I haven’t stuck with it. Being a beginner sucks, especially when that naivety is gone; there’s nothing more humbling than struggling through a 5K after knowing your body has made it through a marathon. But, it’s time for a comeback. And that comeback came in the form of an email last week – I had made it into the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon, a race lottery I entered on a whim last month after figuring I’d have some serious FOMO if I didn’t.
I’m preparing myself for the mental battle that is a long run, the aches of sore muscles from pounding pavement and the time commitment that is race training. This time around I’m focusing on actually enjoying it. On staying positive and being less hung up on mile times and breaking personal records. I’m excited to explore San Francisco through the miles, just as I did with Chicago years ago and I’m looking forward to staying the path. My path. My race. My miles. Bring it on.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of CALIA.