My first experience with running was decidedly humbling. I barely managed a couple miles and found myself gasping and heaving. It was a shocking and soul rattling experience.
It was particularly jarring to me given that I had been an athlete my entire life. Tennis, soccer, basketball, and pretty much any sport that involved running were part of my childhood.
Running 'shouldn't' have been this hard. But, running was a different beast. Running rewarded discipline. Running rewarded consistency. Running rewarded the stubborn. Fortunately, I was born with the latter. The former, I would learn.
Every run became an opportunity to develop the aforementioned. I started to become a runner. With this new identity came the revelation that the process of becoming a runner would never really end.
No matter how many miles I logged, no matter how many races I completed, no matter how hard I pushed myself, there was never really a finish line.
Crossing the finish line merely opened the door to whatever was next. Running faster. Running farther. Running faster AND farther.
It started with a 5K. But, longer distances beckoned like a siren. Ten miles opened the door to fifteen miles. Fifteen miles opened the door to twenty.
Twenty gave way to 26.2 Once I had conquered 26.2, my mission became running this distance as fast as I possibly could. When I found myself bumping up against the fastest time I could muster for the marathon, I began to wonder if I could go further.
I sought distances beyond 26.2. I lost myself in training runs that lasted hours, covered staggering distances, and left me dizzy and lightheaded.
Eventually, 26.2 became 31. Not long after cracking 31 miles, I would cover 50 miles. 50 miles brought me to my knees and crushed my soul. But, I was still standing at the end of it.
It would only be a few months before I signed up for a marathon with the idea that I would run faster than I ever had for 26.2 miles.
This is the curse of being a runner. No matter how far you go, no matter how fast you run, there is always the nagging, lingering question....could you have gone farther? Could you have gone faster?
Of course, the answer to this question is almost inevitably 'yes'. If the weather had been better, if I hadn't missed that one run, if I had taken that gel a few minutes earlier, SURELY I would have run faster....or farther.
It's these thoughts that keep you awake at night. It's these thoughts that make you a runner.
I run because I have yet to find my limits...