Why do I run marathons? By Melody Townsend
I remember being a pretty adventurous child. I loved playing outdoors â€“ anything outdoors â€“ and I was known for sitting up in trees and reading my favorite books. I didnâ€™t really think about the reasons behind the things I did; I just did them because I liked them. And I was a dreamer â€“ always reading and always creating new stories in my head. But I also remember the kid that I turned into sometime during junior high. I was shy, fearful, and uncertain. I struggled to make friends, I had a hard time finding my place in the world, and I had stopped dreaming. I saw other people achieving things and I saw myself quitting things. What really disturbed me was looking at myself as an adult one day and seeing that I was still that same junior higher.
Now, this didnâ€™t all come to me in one lightning bolt moment; it snuck up on me quietly and gradually. As I was realizing that I was more likely to quit something than finish it and very unlikely to try new things, I was seeing other people, like my friend Beth, finish marathons or accomplish other life dreams. I was going through my own identity crisis, trying to figure out what to do with my life. It was in the midst of this that I realized that I was not living life the way I really wanted to. I needed to start making decisions for myself and actually doing the things that I wanted to do. So, I started running.
I had been running since high school track and cross-country. But I was never really very good or extremely motivated. College came and I ran less and less. But then I saw my friend Beth commit herself to getting fit and completing a marathon. We would talk about her training, her experience completing a triathlon, and her preparations for the marathon. All of the positive memories of my own running experiences started coming back to me and I started thinking, â€œI used to do thatâ€¦I liked doing thatâ€¦I felt good doing thatâ€¦Maybe I shouldâ€¦â€ I committed myself to running a half-marathon and it just snowballed from there: a 5K, a sprint triathlon, another half-marathon, and finally a full marathon. And I havenâ€™t stopped since. People who donâ€™t run definitely think Iâ€™m crazy and they are also convinced that they could never do the same thing. What I try to convince them of is that if they are capable of getting up in the morning and walking to their car to drive to work, they can complete any distance race they set their minds to â€“ but they have to want it.
So, in descending order, here are the reasons I ran a marathon and why doing it didnâ€™t get me to quit:
8. Fun. Running really is fun to me. Most of the time. On some days. Okay, I remember one time when it was fun. No, but really, running is fun. It was amazing to see all of the different people who came out to cheer us all on at my first marathon. The guy dressed up like Doc complete with a real Delorean and screaming, â€œ1.21 jigawatts!â€ was my favorite.
7. Fitness. Iâ€™m healthier now than Iâ€™ve ever been and Iâ€™m getting in even better shape every time I go out and run. Being healthier helps me be more energized throughout my day, it allows me to do more with my life, and I have better chances of avoiding certain diseases later in my life.
6. Community. Running a marathon brought me into a new community of great people. We all have one thing in common: marathons. Well, and I guess we also have the blisters, the sweat, the pain, 20-mile training runs, long lines at porta-potties, bananas, T-shirts, finisherâ€™s medals, snot rockets, and knowing way too much about the patterns of our own bowel movements than anyone should really know.
5. Outdoors. I love being outside. I love what I experience when Iâ€™m outside. Marathons are held in very amazing places and the best way to experience these places is on foot! I know the best time and place to watch deer grazing in a suburban yard, Iâ€™ve watched bears eating berries in the top of tree, Iâ€™ve witnessed a hawk catching its breakfast, I had the most exuberant Great Dane decide to make me his new play toy for the day, Iâ€™ve smelled the sweet scent of the earth as rain just starts to wet its surface, Iâ€™ve seen geese migrating for the winter, and Iâ€™ve seen Elvis running about a million different times.
4. Sanity. I know which days are my days off from running. So does my husband. I try not to skip too many days. I work out my problems when I run; I can work out my anger, my frustration, my depression, my sadness when I run in a way that defies explanation and just doesnâ€™t happen if I donâ€™t go out and pound pavement. Running really is euphoric. If you do it enough times, youâ€™ll get there. I can go out feeling like all of my problems will surely drown me and then return with new perspective. I have a clearer head, a longer fuse, and Iâ€™m ready to take on my challenges.
3. Completion. I want to be a finisher not a quitter. I know there are times in life when itâ€™s healthy and good to say no or to stop doing something. But I donâ€™t want to be the type who backs out when it gets hard and thatâ€™s the pattern I was starting to build into my life. Everyday I go out and run, Iâ€™m beating that pattern. Running across that finish line at my first marathon proved to myself that Iâ€™m not a quitter. I can be strong when it gets hard and push through. Hard things donâ€™t seem so hard anymore now that I know I can make it through the last 6 miles of a marathon.
2. Confidence. Not only does running a marathon help me know that I can complete hard things, it also gives me a confidence Iâ€™ve never had. Iâ€™ve learned that if I really want to do something, I have to consciously take the steps to do them. Sometimes that means that I can only focus on one step at a time because if I look at the whole thing, I might get overwhelmed. Not to sound clichÃ©, but I have to believe in myself that I can take that first step and then take that next step or else I defeat myself before I even get started. I never dreamed that I would run a marathon. I thought only super-athletes could do that. But I did it. I made the commitment, I took the steps to train, and I did it. No super-athlete skills required.
1. Fear. Above all, I donâ€™t want to live my life enslaved to fear. Itâ€™s a scary thing to think about running 26.2 miles. It can also be scary to me to go out on the roads alone, or in the dark, or in the rain, or whatever else my little brain decides is going to be scary today. By going out and running, I confront my fears. By running a marathon, I knock those fears on their measly little fanny.
Well written Melody, thanks for sharing!! Melody and Kerry will be running the Ragner Relay with us in April!!