Running because I can.
In the past several years my relationship with running has become strained. What was once so natural, so easy, and so freeing for me has become just the opposite. From the time I was a little girl running was engrained in me. Nothing made me feel more free than sprinting full speed through the woods in my parents back yard. I had a love for the outdoors and when I was running everything felt right. I have a distinct memory of 5th grade when our gym teacher timed our laps around the field and I beat out all the boys. The good vibes from that moment carried me all the way through high school where I ran cross country.
But my love for running started fading out senior year of high school when I realized I simply wasn’t getting better. I was exhausted of the same routine of 6-10 miles every day for 4 years straight. My passion was turning into my enemy. But like all things it rekindled. It had its ups and downs. When my Coach passed away I found a spiritualness in running. In my mind I could hear Coach feeding all his years of advice to me and it made me whole.
At this point in my life though, I’m so far removed from running that it doesn’t even feel like a piece of me anymore. I’ve made countless attempts to get back into it, to find the parts of it I so much loved. And some nights I can. Some nights I’m fortunate enough to throw on my shoes after weeks of not running and bust out my emotional grievances into 6 or 7 miles. And some nights I’m not. On those nights that I struggle every footstep feels like it’s going to be my last and I’m ready to give up.
My continuous failed attempts at reconnecting with running have boiled down to two things:
1. I don’t like being bad at things.
2. I don’t like being in pain.
And guess what. Now I’m bad at running and it causes me pain. I’m confused and concerned about what’s happening to my body at 25. Having lived my entire adolescence without an injury I have to learn to cope with these shin splints that keep creeping in. And the cartlidge in my knee. What is that! I can literally feel shit floating around in my knee caps. I feel like the tin man. Rusty and in serious need of some WD-40. Is it all downhill from here?
Not if I have a say.
I laced up on a Monday after facing some facts that the past two weeks I’d been drinking a little bit too much and perhaps it was time to focus on some soul searching. The two miles came easy and I found that high that made me realize I wanted to stick with it. To my surprise I ran another 3 miles on Tuesday. And on Wednesday I ran 3 and half. But god was it hard. It was so damn hard. But at one point, and as cheesy as this may sound, I told myself to run because I could. I had to accept that I was going to suck. People were going to pass me. My shins were going to hurt. But it didn’t take away from the fact that I still have this glorious ability. I have my health and I have this natural skill in me that after a full year I can just get up and do 3 miles. To some it may not be much, but to a lot of people that’s a really big accomplishment.
So that’s why I’m running. Because I can. And with the way I’ve felt my body change at 25, who knows for how long I can. I’m not saying that I think in five years I’ll be out. I’m sure I’ll be able to run for many years to come. But I wondered while I was cruising up York Rd if there were any people wishing they could be doing what I’m doing. And for that reason I went out today and ran 4.
I can’t promise I’ll stick with it. I hope I will. I hope this time around I can suck it up and push away the pain and push away the feeling of a lost talent. If I keep with it then in time I know both of these things will evaporate. I just have to keep at it… and on the hard days, as Coach would say, I just have to fake it ‘til I make it.
Track name: Girls Chase Boys
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson
Album: Lights Out
Played 1,059 times
Track name: Restless Dream
Artist: Jack's Mannequin
Album: People And Things
Played 2,723 times
I first fell in love with Towson when I was eight years old. I remember it all happening: sitting in my playroom filled with American Girl Dolls and my karaoke machine where I’d play radio host, my best friend Christina and I talking about how one day we’d be old enough to go to the Towson Town Center on our own. We’d drive cars and wear bras and talk to boys. It’d be just like the board game we played dozens of times over. We’d have credit cards and our own money. It was intangible and fantastic.
And then I turned 11. The struggle became real. I was enrolled in an all-girls school and I was so scrawny I couldn’t fit into jeans. The idea of the mall as some mythical place had vanished because at 11 it was my hell on earth. Every trip was long and tiring and concluded with crying or fighting. I didn’t want to wear cute clothes. I wanted to be at home playing kick the can or exploring in the woods.
As it turned out, this was the year I’d witness my first shooting, forever correlating Limited Too with a man bleeding out at the jewelry store across the hall. I can’t say I was panicked by the sight. At the time, I felt separated from the instance. This was back when cops only shot robbers and robbers only shot cops and random strangers weren’t apart of the chaos. But I still remember my mom holding my 18” hair back as I vomited in a nearby public restroom once it was all over.
At some point I stopped being physically awkward. I turned fifteen and the mall became a new vision of freedom. Gone were the day’s of braces and trips to Claire’s for roll-on glitter. Mom would drop me off at the Commons to see a movie but more often than not we didn’t even go inside. We’d stroll York Rd for ice cream and huddle in our little circles of friends.
When I was sixteen I started going to shows. And then Towson just got weird. We’d hang out on the roof watching the boys skateboard, we’d sit for long periods of times with the homeless and pan handlers who were college drop-outs and runaways. We’d play frisbee in the cemetery while some smoked pot. We’d run our hearts out for fear the cops were going to catch us after kicking a dodgeball off the roof and landing on the windshield of a strangers van.
At seventeen I’d watch my friends drink from water bottles full of vodka. I made out in the stairwell of the garage for hours, exchanging first and silly ‘I love you’s’. I actually shopped and I enjoyed it. And I ate entirely way too many pretzel dogs. I watched my friends become rockstars upon the dingy stage of the Recher Theatre.
At eighteen I got nostalgic and Towson became the backdrop for MySpace photo shoots with my closest girlfriends. I’d hole up in the bookstore for hours upon hours. I’d get utterly lost in my time there. On particularly warm days I’d drive up just to sit on the benches and watch people go by.
At eighteen I also left for college. And the place that had become such a deep-rooted portion of my childhood became my beacon. I’d drive home from college in Virginia every single weekend. Seeing the lights of the mini city as I pulled off I-695 never failed to alleviate the weight I felt being away. It was my safe haven. My lighthouse.
At nineteen I fell in love with my best friend. I became submerged in Towson Univeristy and after a year away I moved out of Virginia and back to Towson. My parents purchased my first house and I had my first roommates. My house saw it all and it sometimes amazes me these plaster walls still stand from all of our late night antics.
Between nineteen and now was a blur. It’s been so much, so fast. I went to college, broke up with my boyfriend, joined a sorority, quit my sorority, started Invisible Children with my best friends, got a new and less crazy roommate who became my best friend, graduated college, worked for my dad, became a booze hound, fell head over heels for my bartender, dated my bartender, bought a dog, had my boyfriend move in, bought another dog, and watched my best friend move out.
I’m twenty-five now. And here I sit at my kitchen table in my little cottage in Towson where I’ve been living for six years. The mortgage and the bills and the deed all now my own. To outsiders I may just be living in a bubble, afraid to grow and step outside the ‘drama of my friends’ or the comfort of home. But I’d like to argue that’s not true. Sure, I could leave. I could pack up my bags and live somewhere else. I’ve been a lot of other places. I’ve had the opportunity to live in a lot of other places. But I don’t.
Towson has my heart wound tight. It’s like finding the love of your life at fourteen. Everyone keeps telling you you’re missing out… but are you? Just because you got it right the first time does it really mean you have to leave it to experience more? I’m not saying this is it. I know that Towson isn’t my end all. I’m just saying that if it was, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.
How’s that for a #ThrowBackThursday?
Yeah my tongue will let it slip, why’d I do those things I did
I can taste it now, oh no, oh no
I’ll try my best, how much do I invest?
Like cardiac arrest, high voltage in her lips