This morning I planned to meet a friend for an easy 8 mile run. For some reason Ashton chose this morning to sleep in so I was really crunched for time feeding him and heading out. If I wasn’t already planning on meeting her it would have been so easy to delay the run and/or not go as far. Gotta love accountability.
Turns out we had a great run. About a half mile into the bike trail I heard some voices behind me. I didn’t want to turn around and make it obvious I wanted to know who was back there so I waited until a turn and I glanced to my side quickly. I saw a few guys and girls a way back and I thought they were some of the Harding cross country and track members out for an easy Saturday morning run. (We live by a University and it is not uncommon to see Kenyan runners out on the trail cruising by at insanely fast speeds!) I turned to my friend and mumbled something about wanting to see how long we could stay ahead of them. She knows I do not like to get passed and I knew we could hang with them if it was their “easy” run. So we managed to stay ahead of them for about 2 miles before we had to stop at an intersection. Once we stopped and they caught up I realized they were all former Harding Cross Country alumni who were in town for a special occasion. One of my former teammates, Janet, was just inducted into the Hall of Fame last night. She is the one I watched at the Olympic trials who placed 5th overall, right behind Amy Hastings. That’s right, Janet ran a 2:29:45 marathon!
My friend encouraged me to go on with them so I spent the next few miles running with them and it was amazing! For a few moments I felt like I was back in college running with a pack feeling free and FAST! I know it was just an easy run for some of them but it was a great tempo for me! At another big intersection their group had to split up to go different directions and I decided it was time to turn around and head back.
During the run back I had a little time to think about how running has changed for me. Why do I like it so much? Running has always been a part of my life. Since I was a little girl. My mom would pack up my sisters and I and we would cheer for my dad as he ran in many local races. I ran in my first 5K when I was 5 and started running everyday the summer before 8th grade. Yes, everyday. I started a running streak with a 1 mile minimum. The streak last 5 1/2 years so running was part of my literal everyday life. Then there was cross country in high school and college. I loved running in college but definitely viewed it as a job. I had to practice, work hard and earn my scholarship. I was SO ready for the day when I could decide on my own if and when I wanted to run. No one was going to make me run at 5 or 6 in the morning!
I needed the break physically but especially mentally. I did not miss running. For 8 years I took a long break from competitive running and I had no intention of going back. What changed? I did. My motivation changed. I am no longer motivated by a scholarship. My motivation is not a coach or my teammates. My motivation is not to lose weight or to get in shape. (Of course, those are nice perks- especially after having a baby!) I don’t run for my husband or my kids. I will be honest. I run for me. I run because I truly love it. I love the time it gives me on my own. At this stage of my life this is something I treasure. I love being with my kids but having a small window of time on my own helps me think clearly and it energizes me. I love knowing that I have pushed myself to be better, to be stronger, to be faster. I may be a mom but I am still me.