Sunday, January 13, 2013

Trying not to miss a thing


When I started running, I was an awkward, skinny tween. I was never any good, but running on my junior high school and then high school track and cross-country teams saw me through some difficult years, and helped an uncoordinated girl who had never been good at team sports feel a part of something special. I loved the camaraderie of long runs after school, bus rides to meets, and the thrill of the occasional point I was able to contribute in competitions. Although I wasn’t a fast enough runner to join a collegiate team, college brought me to San Diego (heaven for distance runners), and the love affair continued. I spent much of my early 20s in the eucalyptus groves on my college campus, the dirt trails of the city’s scenic canyons, and of course along its many beautiful beaches. Eventually I morphed into a full-fledged distance runner, but somewhere along the way, running became a solitary pursuit.

Keep in mind that this was the early 90s, and the proliferation of running groups, meet-ups, and fitness camps had not yet begun, so I really didn’t have a lot of options as an unaffiliated adult. Not only did I learn to love the quiet time that a long training run can provide, but I also began to turn inward.  Like most female runners, I am mindful of my safety, and easily alarmed by stories in the news about joggers and runners who are attacked. It took only a few cat-calls out of car windows and startling honks of a horn while out running alone to begin to feel like a target. I developed a slump in my shoulders and a downward gaze. The way I ran in my 20s was a lot like how I lived my life in my 20s – full of fear and self-doubt.

As the years have passed, I’ve faced anxiety, challenged fear, and developed self-confidence. This is reflected in my career in social work, personal relationships, and even in the way that I run. I’m faster now in my late 30s than I ever was in my 20s, and run with my shoulders back and my head held high. This is due to more than just a good chiropractor. (Although if you’re looking, I do have a great one ...) My carriage as a runner is a reflection of how I choose to carry myself in the world. Every run is an opportunity to see something new, connect with my city and my neighbors, and enjoy them in all of their glory and absurdity. So now I look up. I try to remember to smile (even when I’m struggling), and do my best to give every other runner a wave hello. I notice the beauty, the people, and the funny stuff going on all around me, and I hope they do too. I’m trying not to miss a thing.

5 comments:

  1. Love it! I'll try to make sure to heed your advice in Pittsburgh.

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  2. I feel the same way as a woman. Hell, I get cat calls when I'm picking up the poop from my dogs on our walks. A man crosses the street and I'm on high alert. I'm working on this for sure.

    Good luck!

    And I try to give a nod of hello that hey we are two runners sharing this path. Sometimes, it works.

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  3. I'm so happy to have found your blog (via SoCal Runner Gal)! I feel like I can totally relate to you with the anxiety, fear and for a long time lack of self confidence. Running helped me find my best, strongest self! And I'm all about the runner's wave! I really think it's so important to connect with people, even if just in a wave or smile :)

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  4. Hi, this looks great! Can't wait to see much, much more.
    Karen

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  5. Hello from Seattle! I'm happy I discovered your blog and I will definitely work more on the "Hi" now - especially here where people are more reserved. I fell in love with San Diego on my first visit there, and even if the Northwest is pretty good for running (nice temps and clean air as long as you ignore the 9mo of drizzle) I am bit jealous :) I look forward to your posts!

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