Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tracking My Obsession - Part 2 - Off to the Races!

Once I moved to Chicago, in 2000, the running scene was hugely different. Chicago is a city full of runners and great running places. I mean, you can't go anywhere without seeing runners, and if you're anywhere close to the lake you can barely keep from tripping on them. I had taken a break from regular running during my last months in Massachusetts as I become more and more involved in martial arts study, but now I started again, and even signed up for another marathon training program that did not involve fundraising.

Part of this training program involved my first road race, the 2001 Chicago Distance Classic. It was not love at first race. It was brutal. It was hot, of course, August on the lakefront, and a distance I had not covered before (20K, or about 12.5 miles). Nor was I in any way prepared for it. I finished - I even managed not to finish last - but I had no fun, and stopped my training program shortly thereafter.

Over the next four years I started and stopped and started running again. I stopped because of injury, or because my life got complicated - I started because there was nothing that made me feel as good as running did.

I had just started running more regularly again when I met The Dude, in 2005. There is nothing like being involved with another runner to affirm your own love for it. The Dude did not think I was crazy for heading out in all kinds of weather. The Dude understood how I felt after a good run, and that even a bad one was better than no run at all. And The Dude inspired me with his stories of marathons and half-marathons and running with his mom and their tradition of running the Ohio River Road Runners Turkey Trot together every year. That year I ran the Turkey Trot for the first time with him. There were old guys in sweatshirts and young women in tights, middle school kids, lots of middle-aged folk just like me, dogs barking furiously from the sidelines. It was hard, it was cold and windy and rainy, and it was AWESOME.

Chicago is a city where you seriously could run a race every single weekend of the year and not leave city limits. Add in the surrounding suburbs and you could make it every Saturday and Sunday. After that first one, if I'd had more money and time I would have run another race every month, I loved it that much. Instead I got married and worked weekends, ran a couple more a year later, then got pregnant. I kept thinking about races, though, kept planning, kept hoping. Kept having dreams of running a marathon.

So to start running again last year, to improve so much through better training, to be consistent in my training, to find ways to safely continue through injury, to build on the work of last year instead of starting all over again yet again, and to be in a place where I can realistically train for that long-awaited, 14-years-in-the-making marathon... why this is heaven indeed.

1 comment:

  1. I know, it's weird to think about, but we can't really say we're "young adults" anymore, can we? How about, "approaching" middle age?