I am not a runner.
The fact that I'm writing this a few days after running my first 10K road race is slightly ironic, but let me get to where I'm going! When I say that I'm not a runner -- I mean that I am not a natural runner. After a bout of pneumonia at the age of 12 I'm pretty sure my lungs are even less inclined to participate in running activities. It is not in my natural inclination to run. I do not like to play soccer because it involves running. I hate running fast because the rhythm just isn't there and believe me, if there is no rhythm when a 6'2" human is trying to run fast, there is a tangle of limbs and fantastically epic crashes with the ground!
But I like to run slow. I like to run and still be able to breathe. And the thing that happens when you keep doing this running thing is that you slowly get faster and better and suddenly you are not really so terribly slow anymore, even if you don't have those special endorphiney thingies in your genetic code!! Eureka!! Training WORKS!
Everyone seems to have a reason for starting to run, and I am no different. I was a member of the cross country team in my elementary school years if for no reason than it seemed to be something that I could accomplish with at least partial success (athletics were never my forte). After failing to make the team in grade eight (think tremendously fantastic meltdown mid-course), I didn't think much more about running for almost a decade.
Then my dad had a seizure on our family camping trip and I wanted nothing less than to sit around in an empty house while he was stuck in the Georgian Bay General Hospital getting tests done and so perhaps irrationally I figured that I should probably go for a run.
Then I kept running.
I ran slowly and not very far, but just enough to be doing something so that when it felt like life was roadblocked by a greyish sort of future, completely mired in grief and memories of funerals and phone calls with coroners I would still be going somewhere, even if it was just to the stoplights and back.
And that's where the inspirational "how running saved my life" story ends -- it didn't even really begin, actually. Running didn't save or change my life. It didn't push me through my grief -- the Holy Spirit did. Running was one of many things that helped give me focus and a goal when it would have been really easy to become lifeless and sorrowful and the proud owner of a massive chip on my shoulder. So that's that. I kept running even after the grief ebbed away because I kind of liked it and it really is good exercise.
One of my big goals while in Scotland was to spend ample time running. We were in Edinburgh -- how could I not take the opportunity to do a wee 5K joggle around an ancient castle? My days were my own and I had made room in my suitcase for my Sauconys -- I was set.
Well, I wasn't quite ready for all the dang hills. You want good hill training? Try running in Edinburgh. You can't escape the hills! But nothing -- absolutely nothing -- beats the views! I developed a variety of different routes over the summer -- but my absolutely fave was a route all the way around Arthur's Seat, a massive old volcano plonked right in the middle of the city.
Well, not all of it was great. The first half of it involved getting up the volcano... which has a fairly steep incline. Which I finally ran up without stopping on the last run of the summer!! Congratulations, me.
While toiling up the hill of death I would distract myself by looking to the side at the above view and think, how enjoyable this is! What lovely views! This is just as pleasant as laying on the beach and not moving!
Running is mostly psychological, people.
Once up to the crest of the hill of horrible awful steep grade, I would look over my shoulder and see THIS! I do love a good view of Edinburgh.
But at this point I wasn't even halfway done the route -- so -- onward! Once around this corner, you could see...
THIS! I love this. That's a golf course down there, and a bird sanctuary. And some really beautiful lawn lines. Way to go, mower!!
Pushing further forward with much gasping and hatred of this hobby, I would reach the midpoint of the run -- Dunsapie Loch, a tiny bit of water at the top of the volcano. Was always filled with ducks and surrounded by many tourists and small children who would probably wonder if the crazy red-faced girl was going to make it home okay.
I would also like to say that whoever thinks they invented the infinity pool -- didn't. The claimant of that prize goes to whoever dug this lake here. Lake to ocean -- phenomenal. Made me smile every time. Well... more of a smile-grimace.
All downhill from there, baby! Plus an ancient chapel to look at helps distract from the leg cramps.
And then St. Margaret's Loch and swans! After that the hardest part was dodging the picnickers and clusters of tourists with their cameras and the police cars around Holyrood Palace when Charles and Camilla were in town. Which was only once. Which was pretty crazy. I hobnob with royalty in my sweaty leggings, oh yes.
Anyway, we returned to Michigan and whilst running along the familiar suburban streets of our dear old smoggy city and missing the charming old church bell-ringing steeples of cathedrals from my old Edinburgh routes, I thought that I ought to channel my running energy into an actual race so attacked my training schedule with a vengeance -- but only for a little while because to be honest I really don't enjoy training. You have to eat at certain times and not eat at other times and just use up so much time doing tiring things when you'd rather be using your time doing other things. In short: training blows.
Was a bit wild and signed up for a 10K. My thought process was: I can run a 5K no problem! So I'll challenge myself and run 10! Easy as pie! Just doubling it, that's all!
Fortunately all went well and the experience was not at all as traumatic as the last race I ran in -- a grade 6 cross country meet back in 1998. In that case, after the starting gun went off all I can remember was a mad scramble of adolescent girls, a whole lot of dust, and a poor girl moaning on the ground who succumbed to the chaos of tangled pre-teen legs and found herself being trampled. It was awful -- I remember thinking that I just wanted to get out of there but there was no other option but to run or be run upon.
Nope, far less drama at my 10K. Just a whole lotta running and then massive amounts of free food at the end. Let's be honest, I was only there for the free food. It pays to run, my friends! I'll run 10K any day if it means I get some Greek yogurt after the finish line!!