I don’t remember why I started running. Watching marathons pass by always made me cry, but, most things make me cry- like Advil commercials starring worried mothers.
I don’t remember why I started running, but I do remember when I started running races.
I don’t remember making most of my life’s decisions, leaving college, moving in with boyfriends, going from bottomless brunch to Puerto Rico, learning Italian, learning to sail- but I remember signing up for a half marathon while laying on Colleen’s couch. She was out doing something, and I thought it sounded cool because the word ‘marathon’ was in it. I remember studying the course map and looking at mile after mile ‘uh huh…yup, so this part i’ll be tired, and then this part, i’ll almost be done, and then this part here will be the finish”. That was about as far as my training went.
Back pedal. I dreaded gym class. Once a week in elementary school, and twice a week in middle school. I don’t remember PE as an upper classman, I assume my progressive west village school house didn’t believe in it- though I vaguely remember their being basketball hoops on the fourth floor, and maybe we did yoga in the theatre once?
I dreaded gym class and I dreaded any class that was above the second floor. Taking frequent breaks on the stairwell to silently catch my breath, pretending to search for something urgent in my messenger bag. I was 14 and 200 pounds. I was exhausted and never took my jacket off. I was 14 and dreaded warmer months, doctor appointments, and walking into rooms.
Fast forward a few years, I am 17 and I haven’t eaten in three days and when I roll my shirt up in the bathroom mirror my stomach is smaller but not effortlessly. “You look like a fat girl who hasn’t eaten in three days” I think to myself, and leave the bathroom to rejoin friends. I am 17 and spent my summer on the stair master. I have lost over 60 pounds, and I want to lose ten 10 more, and I want to look good in shorts but I know that will never happen. I still hate taking my coat off. Gunther, the hot guy from the coffee shop, whose engaged but still makes out with me put his hand on my neck saying “isn’t she beautiful? Just imagine if she lost 20 pounds”. His friends said nothing, I assume they agreed. And you know, he was right, the following year I would weigh 20 pounds less, and I looked pretty good.
I started running either because I could no longer afford my gym membership, or because I could no longer stand the elliptical. In either case, I was living near the base of the Williamsburg bridge, and I would set out the 2.6 miles, my phone in my hand, keys tucked into my sports bra, amazed every time that I could complete the route. The Williamsburg bridge has this great view of Manhattan, it also has two killer inclines and some rank odors in the summer. I love this bridge. I know every inch of this bridge and the ever changing quilt of crappy graffiti. I have day dreamed about being proposed to in the middle, I have also day dreamed about jumping off in the very same spot. I have been running for nearly three years, and the inclines, are still the inclines. I have run on mornings after great sex and excitement, I have run off horrible hangovers and anxiety, I have run off too much thai food, and too much stress.
I am strong but I need to lose ten pounds. I’ve gotten faster but now I’m regular, not fast.
In the coming 12 weeks I will run both my second, and my 3rd full marathons. I completed my first 26.2 in Paris earlier this year. Since 2014 I have run over 24 races. I’m not there yet. I am not proud yet. I am not even close but closer.