Originally posted at http://53riverbankrun.com/blog/roadwarriors/2014/03/19/the-running-contract/
9 years ago, I signed my life over to running. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but it turns out I neglected to read a lot of the fine print in the contract. First of all, running would demand some crazy hours from me. It wouldn’t be long before my wake-ups went from 7 am (Pre-kids of course! These were the blissful days before I had children that I used to think 7 am was actually early, but I digress) They went from 7am to 6 am to 5 am, and thankfully stopping at the earliest of 4:30 am all in an effort to beat the sweltering summer heat, fit 14 training miles in before work, or squeeze a run in on an over packed day. To accommodate all this ridiculous early morning stuff, I would now need to go to bed early, much earlier than everybody else my age or in a general 15 year span give or take. Forcing myself into bed not long after my kids went to bed made me feel very old and very lame, but there is no use lamenting a wasted youth. I’ve got 2 car seats, a purse as big as a diaper bag, and randomly find myself singing Veggietales songs because let’s face it – my youth and cool factor has been gone for awhile now. I begrudgingly subscribed to these new sleeping habits in order to better myself and better my running.
Then, there were the bananas. I hate bananas. Absolutely hate them. Always have. The taste, the texture, the slimy peel… how very unlucky for me that they are running’s super fruit. Need energy? Grab a banana. Muscle cramps? A banana will fix that. Getting tired during your run? Have another banana. For a runner, the banana is practically the cure for whatever ails you. And so I learned to tolerate bananas. I hid them in smoothies, mixed them up with big spoonfuls of peanut butter, and every so often, managed to eat one with my stale quartered bagel after a hard race. Running made me care more about what I put into my body, not just with bananas but other foods as well. Turns out pizza and ice cream are not a good pre-run meal, but post-run…well, that’s another story.
But then came the scariest part of it all – the running clothes. The synthetic spandex and polyester type fabrics, the curve-hugging wicking base layers and tights – all of that stuff would weasel its way into my closet. And I’d wear it, out in public even! Up until that point, I had spent my entire adult life avoiding those kinds of clothes. Standing at 6 feet, with shoulders wider than most men my size, calves that will always be too big to be zipped up into a pair of tall boots, and 2 kids via c-section – as far as I was concerned, spandex had no business in my life or in my closet. Spandex with its unflattering, clingy judgmental statements, highlighting every extra cookie, every failed sit up, and putting me awkwardly on display like that one time I went to the beach right after I had a baby. Why would I do that to myself? Why would I wear these things? I learned to let it go, to love myself, and see with clearer eyes what I am capable of. I learned to be proud of who I am and embrace the gear even when I was afraid and very self-conscious in it. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But can I still run an incredible amount of miles? Yes!
And so here I am – exhausted at 5 am, unceremoniously stuffing myself into a pair of spandex capris, eating a banana out of sheer obligation, and heading outside to where it all makes sense. And why? Because it only takes a few minutes to remember why I am doing this. It only takes a few minutes to realize that it is all worth it. Every run, every mile, and every race has the power to transform. I have transformed my life mile by mile, many different times over the years. Running has kept me from drowning, healed my broken heart, been an outlet for grief and loss, and saw me through fear beyond words. So I will keep running, forging ahead the road in front of me, because that is where I belong. If you love what you are doing, then that is all that matters, contract or no contract.