Happy Run-iversary to Me!

On Sunday, I will run the Dallas Marathon, where ten years ago I made my marathon debut, and now, 16 marathons later, I begin again.  

Happy run-iversary.  

Many of these races involve running to something - a qualifying time, a personal best, and another PR and another and another. There was a sense of accomplishment and validation in myself knowing that dedicated training plus mental smarts equaled my finish time of choice.  

A few of my races involve running away from things. A needed distraction when my marriage was in serious trouble and eventually ended in divorce. A way to better handle the hiccups in health my father has experienced in the aging process. And sometimes just running away from feeling a little confined in the concrete suburban jungle.  

Running stokes my sense of adventure - to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, in the Poconos Mountains, on trails with my nature-loving friends, through St. Louis, around a volcano in Hawaii, through throngs of screaming fans in Boystown in Chicago, running through Rome and gloriously getting lost and discovering the most amazing view at the Piazza del Popolo (the People’s Square) and finding my way back to the hotel with my jumbled Italian inquires.

Much as life crests and recedes, I’ve run fast, I’ve run slow, I’ve run a little injured, I’ve run happily with endorphins exploding like the Fourth of July, I’ve run so emotionally raw and stopped on the side of the road to weep, I’ve run “That Boston” where bombs exploded and it was like a runaway thread that started ripping at the fabric of what I held dear. Only to learn that the people, the city and I all had to figure out how to reinforce it and piece things back together. To make it stronger.

love is louder

I could write volumes about the amazing people has brought into my life. Too many to mention. You know who you are. If you really want to get to know people, run with them. Run long distances with them. In the predawn hours, where all you see are stars, maybe a shooting star if you’re lucky.  And all you hear are the sounds of your footsteps and you talk about everything and consider the world’s problems solved after 20 miles. Those are the friends running has brought into my life.

But Sunday isn’t about running to something, away from anything, a grandiose adventure or even running with some of my amazing friends who have offered to share in this adventure with me.

So much of this running stuff started in the pursuit of happiness. But thanks to getting some additional life experience, and beaucoup amounts of yoga, it’s evolved into the happiness of pursuit.

I just thought it would be fun after a two-year layoff from marathons to celebrate. To run in Dallas, my adopted home city for the last 13 years. To enjoy the heck out of training - results be damned.

And I have to say, it’s been really fun to see gains in fitness. Not the kind I had four years ago when I was running 70-miles a week and throwing myself around the track like Nolan Ryan would treat a fastball.  Nope. Not a single track workout. But plenty of bread and butter, steady and strong tempo runs where I know I was feeling good at paces that used to feel hard.

I ran 1:44 for a half marathon a few weeks ago, on a humid and 60-something degree day, my fastest half in a few years. Logging a few 20-mile runs and even a 22-miler, renewed my sense of accomplishment, so it wasn’t just another long run. And treating myself to my favorite cinnamon roll pancakes - except when it was pumpkin spice season - and I happily consumed all of it. As a treat to me, from me.

So the race is superfluous.

A good thing because on Monday, I showed up in the office of my running pal and general practitioner Lowell Koppel’s office with a virus, fever, sore throat and body aches, feeling like garbage left on the curb on a wet soggy morning. Normally this would have sent me sobbing into child’s pose for days. But I was calm. I can’t change this. I can control my reaction. That’s about it.

Lowell gently suggested if I didn’t feel better I should consider a race in January. So as to not “waste” this training. Because now I have something in the bank, and I’ve earned this after all.

Uh, no, probably not.

Fortunately, while not 100 percent, I’m better and determined to see what happens on Sunday. I want to celebrate my run-iversary, for me. And the best part is that the race doesn’t matter as much as the fun in rediscovering my joy of running distance again.

Simply getting here - not just this training session -  but in every day I’ve laced up my shoes since 2006 is the real story here. All those experiences logged in great times, tough times, in between times, sunny days, rainy days, Texas summer squishy shoe days, ice cream cold pre-dawn days where my fingers become icicles - that’s what I have in personal bank, not just miles run.

Happy run-iversary to me.

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