When I was in third grade, I had a teacher, Mrs. Ragland, who seemed as terrifying as a loose dog on a long run. She always emphasized etiquette and manners and told us that it was polite, upon meeting someone new, to introduce ourselves. In an effort to avoid the wrath of Mrs. Ragland, who still makes my heart pound and my palms sweat, I would like to introduce you to myself.
My name is Kim. I am a mom of two beautiful girls. I am the wife of a curly, red-haired bowling math whiz. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a fitness instructor. I am a jig-saw puzzle addict. I am a former high school English teacher. I am a Cancer, although I have no earthly idea what that means. Apparently that is significant to some people, though. I am a cyclist. I am a voracious reader. I am an organizer and master list-maker. I am a dancer, but only when no one else can see me. I am also an avid runner.
Notice I did not say I am an elite runner or even a great runner. But I love running. Not in the way I love my kids or even in the way I love half-melted vanilla ice cream swimming in hot fudge. It’s a different kind of love. Some would say I’m addicted. Some do say I am obsessive. Maybe they’re right, but I don’t think so. I’d like to say I’m committed, dedicated, and most importantly, loyal.
Loyal may be an odd choice of words to describe my running, but I think it’s the best choice. Running has given me more than I could ever give it. When I’m confused, running gives me clarity. It doesn’t always give me answers to my problems, but it usually helps me put those problems back into perspective. When it seems that everything is going wrong at work, I can go for a run, and things just don’t seem as urgent or horrible. They seem manageable and temporary.
When I’m upset, running gives me peace. My husband can always tell what kind of day I’m having by which shoes I’m wearing when he walks in the door. He can bet that if my running shoes are on, my day has been less than stellar. But he also knows that if I can just have thirty minutes with my friend, running, I’ll be just fine. My mood will be manageable and temporary!
When life is chaotic, running gives me structure and consistency. No matter where I am, I can run. My family knows that Saturday mornings are my long run mornings. That’s not to say I’m not flexible, but I always get it in, one way or another. Even if that means waking up Christmas morning at 3:00 am to run 16 miles on the treadmill before making our early morning flight to Disneyland.
When I am sad, running gives me time to work through the sadness. When my grandpa died not long ago, it was during my long runs that I really grieved. I didn’t have time to do that during the day. I had kids, a job, and responsibilities. But my runs were my alone time. I could reflect on those memories I had with my grandpa, reflect on his struggle through Alzheimer’s, reflect on what his life taught me, and even sometimes cry. I highly recommend running in the rain if you want to cry. It’s a lot less conspicuous.
When I feel incompetent, running makes me feel successful. There are many days when it seems that my children would have fared better had they been raised by a band of gypsies. There are many days when I’m sure they would prefer to be raised by a band of gypsies. I know what I teach my children today will shape who they are tomorrow, but tomorrow is a long way off, or so it seems. Sometimes I just want a little instant gratification. Running meets that need. Whether I run my fastest mile, or simply finish a big 20 mile training run in the wind and rain, every run that I complete is a success. Small victories such as these keep me going.
Running doesn’t get jealous if I choose to leave it behind for a while and ride my bike. Running doesn’t judge me if I over train and injure myself. Running doesn’t take offense if I take a break. Running doesn’t get angry if I don’t make as much time for it as I promised I would. It’s always there, no matter where I am. For those reasons, I will always be loyal to running.
This running has taken me on quite a journey in the relatively short time I’ve adopted it into my life. I look forward to sharing that journey, potholes and all. My name is Kim, and I’m a runner.