I’m a runner. I sometimes feel like a fraud when I say that because I’m not the fastest or the best. I don’t always stick to my training schedule. There are definitely better runners out there than me. There’s one thing joining a running community will teach you though…if you run, you’re a runner.
My early 20’s had a few sporadic bouts of running. I ran to get back in shape after my first baby because running was free and we were broke. I ran a 5K race here and there, but I barely knew that caring about times was a thing. I was not at all what I considered a runner. It was something i could do but not really something I did.
My “real” running journey began in 2016. I was literally running away from my bad marriage. It gave me space away, alone, to think, to be. I signed up for a half marathon with my friend. I barely trained. I absolutely sucked…but I finished.
I immediately wanted to do it again, but do it the right way. Rather- the way most conducive to improving times, reducing injuries, and overall making me a better runner. Because now I knew it to be true. I run. I am a runner. I want to be a better runner.
I signed up for another half marathon that was about 6.5 months away. I ran a handful of other races in between, did training runs, and went to the gym three days a week doing strength training to make myself stronger for this race.
It’s important to add that the race I’m referring to is the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. When people think of Memphis, they think of all the B’s: Beale Street, Barbecue, Blues, and Basketball. What people often don’t know if that the Bluff City is also somewhat of a healthcare mecca. We’re the home to multiple medical device organizations, a wonderful children’s hospital, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. People from all over the world come to St. Jude for treatment of pediatric cancers, at no cost to the families of the patients. They do this through fundraisers, and this marathon is one of them.
I have three friends from high school, college, or post-grad work whose children have received a cancer diagnosis. They became St. Jude patients. Two of them are still fighting their battle here on Earth. So, for me, thinking about these amazing kids that were fighting like hell to beat cancer left me with no excuses to not get out of bed and run.
Back to that half marathon- I trained and race day came. I took 29 minutes off of my time from my half-marathon six months prior. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I say that without a touch of sarcasm.
Setting New Goals
After St. Jude, I knew I could do more and do better. I was already signed up for a few races in early Spring and I decided that, instead of running another half-marathon for St. Jude in 2017, I’d run a full marathon. Twenty six point two freaking miles.
I have just a handful of weeks to go before I set out on that course and run that distance for the first time.
So welcome to the marathon portion of my running journey. I never thought I’d be doing this so if it seems like I don’t want to some days, it’s probably because I don’t. The 22 mile training run on my calendar honestly makes me want to lay down and cry and I haven’t even done it yet.
Say It, Live It: Why
Today, I’m training for something that I’ve never done before but I know in my heart that I need to complete. It’s a big goal, but as I’ve seen with running so far, totally achievable if I stay the course, train, and keep my eye on why I am doing this wild thing in the first place. Because being a runner is great. Committing to being a runner feels good. But still running when I don’t feel like it. That’s tough. So I need to reaffirm why I do it.
The thought that I want to grow into someone who runs for something rather than those early days of running away sticks with me. Remembering that the first big race I trained for was genuinely one of the best experiences of my life fuels me too. The strongest driver though is my friends’ children, and all St. Jude children. These kids are why I keep running. They are why I set big goals. They are what drag me out of bed at ridiculous early hours to do a long run.
If you feel inspired to run for St. Jude’s mission, I’ll see you out there. If you want to donate money click HERE. When you donate, you ensure that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food—because they should ONLY worry about helping their child live. Donations made to St. Jude also contribute to the overall childhood cancer survival rate increasing from 20% to more than 80% since St. Jude opened it’s doors over 50 years ago. Join me if you can.