Running and I weren’t friends at the end of 2016. Nope – we had what is often referred to as a “falling out”. I had a really tough training season and I just about turned my back on running altogether. Let the pounds pile on and took a non-committal approach to training for most of the year. But despite my disenchantment, my love for running and the community it has brought into my life was at the core of the miles I willed myself to complete in 2017 and 2018. It had me recollecting on how running and I met.
It all began in 2011 when at the urging of my marathoner boyfriend, I signed up for a NYRR Beginner Running class. I’d always wanted to get into running and the format of this class seemed less intimidating than running on the treadmill for 30 minutes or trying to keep up with more experienced runners in group environments. The class started simply by having me walk for 1 minute and run for 1 minute.
Each subsequent week, the running segments would gradually increase until I was able to run for 20 minutes non-stop. I felt like a million bucks once I did that. I eventually graduated to their Intermediate Level class and signed up for my very first race – the Fifth Avenue Mile.
When I signed up I had no clue that the idea of the race was for it to be an all-out sprint so naturally I freaked out. But when I arrived at the starting line and saw the different shapes, sizes and abilities of the women in my heat and immediately felt relieved. Long story short – I survived and decided to sign up for a 4-mile race in Central Park with the goal of running the entire distance nonstop. Mission accomplished.
As is often the case with running, tackling that goal led me to look for bigger challenges and I decided to take on my first half marathon – the 2013 Brooklyn Half. Who would have thought that a one mile race would lead to a 4 mile race that would lead to a 10K race that would lead to a half marathon that… yup … led to a marathon. If anyone had told me back in 2011, when I was huffing and puffing down Fifth Avenue that I’d eventually sign up for and run my first marathon, I would have replied with a deadpan, “Nah son…”. Yet there I was, toeing the line at the start of the 2014 NYC Marathon.
What an ode to running this journey has been. It has helped me stave off anxiety, has afforded me the opportunity to use my miles to pay homage to loved ones I’ve lost; it has helped me bring things to the surface and face-off with them as I pound the pavement and has become a conduit that facilitates self-commitment and self-care. And of course, it paved a path to Harlem Run, a community of leaders, activists, advocates and runners I hold so near and dear to my heart.
So yeah, me and running had a falling out. Every relationship has its ups and downs. But after six years, 6 marathons, 15+ half marathons and countless training miles later, I think me and running are gonna be able to work things out. The boyfriend that introduced us is long gone but me and running? We’re gonna be alright…