I Don't Particularly Like Running (Alone, That Is)

To be honest, I don’t particularly like running.

In high school, I played field hockey and that was something I very much did like. The competition, the intensity, and the teamwork all got me fired up every time I stepped onto the field for practice or a game. After too many concussions, though, I can no longer play contact sports and in the years since then, I’ve struggled to find ways to stay active that keep me excited and engaged.

When I found Harlem Run online, I was pretty skeptical. I was brand new to Harlem and NYC—I moved in September to take my dream job with City Health Works—and I didn’t know many people, but I was wary because I don’t really like running…

But after one run and one “game night” with some of the crew, I was sold. I cleared my schedule to be a Monday regular, and signed up for the Brooklyn Half. I called up my friend Zoe and convinced her to come from Indiana to run it with me.

My primary goal was to make all of my training about community and getting to know people.  For the first time since high school, I started to feel the fire I got from field hockey.  It felt great to be in shape, and I could get to know cool, interesting people all at the same time. Running the Brooklyn Half was awesome, and Zoe and I ran the entire race side by side and then celebrated with the new community that I’ve become a part of.

Now this brings me to the Pride Run. Honestly, the run wasn’t exactly my favorite but it did remind me about why I run.

I was super excited to be a part of the event, particularly with Immigration Equality as the beneficiary just days after Jennicet Gutiérrez called mainstream attention to dangerous deportations of trans immigrants at the White House. If you aren’t familiar with Immigration Equality’s work, check it out! *See links at the bottom of the post for more details* They do much-needed advocacy work and provide pro-bono services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive immigrants.

After goofing around and, of course, taking some pics with the Harlem Run crew, we walked to the start and we each peeled off to get in our corrals. For the first time in months, I put on headphones, turned up the volume, and ran alone.  It felt like sitting on the subway with a lot of other people all zoned out and existing in their own separate worlds. By the end of the run, I was bored and ready to be done.

I loved every part of the Pride Run except for the run. But that’s okay. I came away with a great reminder of why I do run:

I run to be with other people, to break out of the subway mindset, and get to know those around me. As soon as I put those headphones in, I shut out all possibility of doing that. I love running with groups of people who are there to be with each other, to cheer each other on, to talk about their day, to joke about the comments from passersby, to share Tinder horror stories. I love my Wednesday night runs with my friend Angela, where we dish about being in our “freshman year of life”, and I loved pop-up Saturday long runs with various Harlem Runners where Joe in particular pushed me to run more mileage than I thought I’d ever hit. Most of all, I love the big group runs on Mondays, regulars and newbies alike exploring the neighborhood and meeting our neighbors.

I guess I should amend my first statement: I don’t particularly like running alone—So I’ll see you there Monday!


P.S.: For more information about Immigration Equality, please visit http://www.immigrationequality.org/  AND  http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/2015/06/24/whpride/

Amir Figueroa1 Comment