My running experience started way back when in high school cross country. At my school, it seemed like every body ran XC (or at least started out the season with the intention of doing so) and a few of my good girl friends ran as well, so I decided to join in.
I would say that my motivator was always to get in shape, because in high school, I wasn't exactly the fittest person. I was very involved in theater and chorus, and had never been the sports star. I tried soccer for a while, but our women's team was best in the county so that didn't last very long. I had done some track and field in middle school, and I still felt like there was an athlete inside of me (underneath a bit of fat, unfortunately) so I wanted to do something that would "force" me to get in shape.
My friend Jess and I embarked on the XC season our sophmore year with not very high hopes. We cheated on our "long" runs, stopped off at friends houses, and basically made a mockery of the sport as much as we could. When track workouts came up, we usually did a few of the workouts and then ducked behind the bleachers and headed home. We didn't do this because we were bad kids, we acted this way because we weren't in shape and instead of being embarrassed at being the worst on the team, we made jokes and laughed it off like it didn't mattter.
Needless to say, when our meets came up they were nothing but miserable, gut-aching, torture.
For some stupid reason one day, Jess and I decided to sign up for a Saturday out of town meet. Why would you do that if you hated it so much, do you ask? Good question, and I have no good answer. I guess we knew inside that we wanted to do better at the sport, so we signed up for something extra thinking it would motivate us to improve.
Morning came the day of the meet and we did everything we could to get out of going, (this in itself is a great story, maybe I will put that out here one day) but to make a long story short, we had to go.
So we get to school and load the bus that cold morning, and play "What's worse?" all the way there because we were THAT miserable.
When we get there, our coach is telling everybody their goal times. When he finally gets to me, he says, "Kristin, your goal is just to finish!" He laughs it off, and I do too not wanting to look hurt and embarrassed, and I end up posting my best meet time of the year that day.
That one sentence has stayed with me ever since that morning, and has probably been the main reason that I keep pushing myself to constantly improve. After I finish my marathon, I plan on calling him up and telling him the story, and letting him know how much of an inspiration and change to my life that one sentence has made.
So back to the here and now, last night was my first track workout of my marathon training plan, and I headed to the Mt. Pleasant track to run 3 miles and then 4x100s. I was originally going to run a quick 3 mile loop around Mt. P, but then decided since I didn't really know the area, just to suck it up and run laps.
I was immediately brought back to high school, when we would all gather on the track to do a sprint workout, and Jess and I would be sucking so bad that after a few sprints we ducked out (deathly afraid of our coach catching us and yelling at us in front of the team) and headed home, or to a friends house to do something "more fun." In reality we were just completely lazy.
But now, I actually have some confidence in myself and in my running ability, and when I arrived at the track to find a large group of runners waiting to start a practice, I wasn't nervous at all to be running amongst them.
I summised pretty quickly that this was a group of beginner runners training for the bridge run in April, with their "Get Over It!" t-shirts giving them away. Most of them seemed to be very new to running and were completely way too bundled up for an running workout.
As I went through my workout, slowly they trickled onto the track, some walking, some barely jogging. Some of them were my age, some were older, but they all had one thing in common--they wanted to be better.
Although I was quicker and more in shape than they were last night, I haven't always been that way. Running there with them last night I was thrown back to that time when all I wanted was to be in shape, to be able to run a 5k easily, to be better, and I know that's how they were probably feeling as well.
It has taken a few years, but running has completely changed my life. It has given me more confidence in myself, given me more energy, it has changed my body and my outlook on life.
In 4 months when I am running those last 6.2 miles after already running 20, and I just don't know where that extra push is going to come fron, I know I will be thinking about that cold morning back in high school when my coach thought I would never finish a 5k, and I know I will be able to push through.
Here's to motivation, here's to making it through, here's to running.