A few people commented on my instagram that they thought I had been running my whole life. That I ran track in middle and high school and was just one of those "had-always-been-running runners."
Well, that's totally not the case (if you've never read my running story, you can click here).
It's so far from the truth.
I've been thinking a lot about why I run lately. And why I enjoy it. And why it's such a huge part of my life now (cue tears streaming down my face right now).
The short answer is: running is a challenge for me.
Pure and simple.
The long answer is...
I played piano for 16 years. That's a long time, people. I started when I was 4 and stopped when I was 20.
I competed in competitions, accompanied choirs, played for weddings (including my Mom's!) and eventually got a scholarship for piano. But honestly? It always came easy. I never really had to work at it (let's hope none of my former teachers ever read this). Now that I'm an adult, I'm thankful I can play, and I play from time-to-time (normally when I'm home by myself) and even at some weddings here and there. But it was never something I had to work for.
I also sang for years. I decided I liked singing in middle school, joined a choir and really loved it. I sang for a community choir, in concert choir in high school (including Madrigals...I was super cool) and in competitions. Heck, I even tried out for American Idol.
I was the "choir girl" in high school and college. And I was totally okay with it. I got a scholarship for voice and ended up minoring in classical voice in college. But that, too, came relatively easy (despite having a tough-as-nails, amazing vocal professor who is still one of my dear friends). Although I really enjoy it, it wasn't ever much of a challenge.
Then there's school. Mom was always strict about my grades and doing well in school, and (she would never admit this, but), she threatened to pull me out of college and bring me home if I made a B. So I didn't. I made straight A's all though college. But once again, that wasn't too difficult for me. School came pretty easy for some reason (or maybe I just chose the right classes/professors).
But once I graduated from grad school, I wasn't singing anymore, I wasn't playing piano, and I didn't have exams and papers to worry about. I sort of found myself at a loss. I wasn't the "choir girl" anymore. I didn't need to spend hours a day practicing piano or voice or writing a paper. I don't think I quite knew what to do with my time or who I was going to be other than "that chick who sings." Music had been my identity for so long, and it wasn't a huge part of my life anymore.
Oh? Also? I was totally non-active. I ate healthy, but "exercise" for me was taking the stairs at work. I was turning 25 and realized, "Holy sh*t. My dad died when he was 36. That's 11 years from now. If I don't start taking better care of myself, the same thing could happen to me."
I'll forever be grateful to my friend who got me into running. It was our new year's resolution for 2010, and as you can see, it stuck. I never would have considered running if not for her. She encouraged me to start running with her, and she encouraged me to sign up for my first half.
So I started running. One foot in front of the other. And guys? It was hard. It was a challenge. I hurt and had blisters and didn't know what I was doing. I got frustrated. I thought about quitting. I cried. But for some reason, I stuck with it. I finally got fitted for the right shoes thanks to my husband (once he realized it was something I was going to continue to keep doing, he treated me to shoes and socks for my birthday. Best investment ever). And after a few months and a hundred or so miles, eventually, it started to become a little bit easier.
After my first half in Nashville.
But nearly 4 years later, it's still a struggle. Do I have good days? Of course! Those are the days I'm so thankful for running. So thankful to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement and have nothing but me and the pavement for miles upon miles. It's my "me" time. My time alone. Time with my thoughts. Time with God. Time to brainstorm. It's therapy, guys. But do I also still have bad days? Absolutely. There are days I struggle through the miles and wonder why I'm out there. There are days when 3 miles feels like a huge challenge, and I'm humbled to think I can even call myself a runner. There are days I end up in tears because I can't believe I worked so hard for a run that went so terribly.
But luckily the good days outweigh the bad. And no matter what pace I'm running, what race I've signed up for, who I'm running with, running is always a challenge. A challenge against myself. To get better. To run faster. To run more miles. To run farther. And that, my friends, is why I love it.
It's the never-ending personal challenge.
After my first marathon.
I realize running isn't for everyone. And I'm not trying to preach that it is. But I hope everyone can find that one thing that they love. That challenges them. That makes them a better person/wife/friend. For me, that's running. It has changed my life and has changed me for the better. And I can't imagine life without it now.