Countdown to ZOOMA
In a little less than 120 hours, I will be a half marathon finisher. Even if it kills me, and based on the symphony of aches and pains I have right now it just might kill me, I will run/walk/crawl 13.1 miles on Saturday, March 23 at ZOOMA Texas.
When I started this journey, I had one big goal and one smaller (tastier) goal:
:: The big one? To become a runner again. The last time I called myself a runner, the time I ran 26.2 miles in Hawaii, I had a different body and a different life. I was in my 20′s, childless, and had not yet nearly destroyed my calf muscles. That was almost a decade-and-a-half ago. I miss that woman, the one who ran.
:: My littler goal? To continue eating tacos and carbs without getting any fatter than I already am. As goals go, it’s not exactly noble. But it tastes good.
Now, three months into the journey and less than a week away from the race, I’ve eaten a whole lot of tacos (breakfast tacos, lunch tacos, snack tacos…) and a few doughnuts.
More significantly, I found her. The runner woman. She’s still disguised in some extra pounds (see: tacos and carbs), but she’s closer to the surface than she has been for many years.
I think a lot about why I run. As the miles slip slowly beneath my feet, my mind wanders, stopping off at the mundane (To-Do-List-Land) and the fantastic (When-I-Win-The-Lottery-Berg). No matter what I daydream about, my mind always makes a stop at Why-Am-I-Doing-This-Ville?
I learned something over the miles: there isn’t one, simple reason to run. Depending on the day, my answers have included:
:: Community, both the abstract sense of community you get as you nod or gasp out, “Morning!” to strangers on the trail, and the concrete sense of community through something like ZOOMA. Reading blog posts and Facebook updates from ambassadors and Muscle Milk Light Half Marathon Challenge participants always lifts my spirits. Their encouragement gets me out the door on days I don’t wanna, and they talk me down from my panicky cliff when a run goes badly.
:: Gear. Really. I love all the stuff. Garmin watch, compression socks, Spibelt, tech tees, and shoes, oh my.
:: Getting in tune with, well, me. I feel stronger, mentally and physically, after a long run. I remember now that I can. Can what? Just about whatever I decide to, that’s what. We all have our limitations, but remember: we’re not defined by our limitations – and more importantly, we can change them. In December I struggled with three miles, but today three miles is a fun, easy distance. Limitation, schmimatation.
:: Nature. I’m not that outdoorsy. I don’t camp, and heaven help us all if I have to hide among the trees to take care of business that God surely never intended to be an outside activity. When I’m on a run, though, I feel very Walden about it all. Gale force winds aside, I love the sun on my face and watching bluebonnets sprout along the trail. I appreciate rock formations that provide shade. I find a train trestle that once provided the pathway for moving granite used to build our state capitol building.
:: Sanity. All that hullabaloo about endorphins happens to be true. I have a sunnier outlook when I run, and I think everyone in my house appreciates that. I don’t have the scientific evidence to back it up just now, but if we were to all Google it, I can guarantee we’d find study after study espousing the benefits of a body filled with oxygenated blood. Circulation is good, yo.
:: Food. I may have mentioned that? I’m an unapologetic lover of stuff that tastes good. Now that I’m closing in on 40, even 13.1 miles isn’t enough to warrant eating whatever I want, but it sure helps. I still have to behave myself most of the time. Running means I don’t feel guilty about the other times, though.
Saturday is going to be hard. It’s a hilly course, and central Texas has been windy lately (oh, how I hate you, wind). When I have to dig deep, I will let my mind wander through the whys, and remember that struggle isn’t a bad thing. Struggle, in fact, is the slow process of chipping away the junk, allowing strength and character to shine through.
:: Why do you run (or bike or do martial arts or climb or whatever it is you do)?
Some ZOOMA-related business for you: Check out the Run to Chi-Town Sweepstakes. Please enter, win, and take me with you!