Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Little Girl That Could - Running Edition


Where do I begin? Running and I have never had the best of relationships. I have always been that girl that would refuse to run in P.E. I would be walking with my arms crossed and a scowl on my face while everyone zoomed on by, seemingly, with ease. I hated it. I know you're thinking that I was probably lazy. Oh no, for me it hurt. My ankle would throb and I would be near tears every time that I was forced to actually run.

After so many tears, arguments with teachers, and notes home to my mother for refusing to run, my mom took me to the doctor. After extensive questions/tests I was diagnosed with Sever's Disease. [Sever's disease or calcaneal apophysitis, is the most common cause of heel pain in the growing athlete and is due to overuse and repetitive microtrauma of growth plates of the calcaneus in the heel. It occurs in children ages 7 to 15, with the majority of patients presenting between 10 and 12 years of age. It is in relation to Osgood-Schlatter disease which affects the knee rather than the heel/ankle.]

Having been diagnosed, I was able to move on accordingly. Basically, I had a doctor's note that dismissed me from running. Handing that note to my teacher felt almost as good as sticking my tongue out and spitting out a bratty, "I told you so."

Though heels have been fine for years, I have stayed away from running. I've been fine with telling myself and others, "I'm just not a runner. It's not my thing." I would watch people run. Hear people say things like, "Exhilarating. Clarifying. A rush!" I kinda wanted to experience that. Not even kinda, I really wanted to feel that high, the pure joy of running until I couldn't run anymore! So, like any normal person who wanted something would do, I did it. I tried to run. I put on the cutest matchy-matchy running clothes, some snazzy sneakers, threw my hair into a pony-tail and took off! This little ritual has happened many times in the past few years. Every time, and I mean EVERY TIME, I would give up after just minutes of running. It was uncomfortable. I couldn't breathe. My legs were hurting. It was not fun. I felt no high. Ew, story confirmed, girlfriend is not a runner.

So there it is. I don't run. I guess I don't have the drive or the passion or the dedication or any of those other descriptive words that we all strive to have on our tombstones. If this is the conclusion that I've come up with after many failed attempts, why do I still long for that exhilarating, clarifying rush that comes from running until you can run no more? I will tell you why. I may not be driven or passionate or dedicated, but I am stubborn. Boy, am I ever stubborn! I am not alright with the fact that I fail at something. So today, on a sunny and bright Tuesday, I woke up with a stubborn desire to run. And run I did. 2 miles. That's right, 2 MILES!

Today I put on my cutest running outfit. Edit: I put on some black leggings and a Pittsburgh Penguins Eastern Conference Champs shirt. I laced up my embarrassingly white (meaning I clearly have not used them enough) running shoes, threw my long hair into a messy pony-tail, strapped on my iPod which was set to a fantastic running playlist, and headed out the door. I did some basic stretching, told myself I would just walk until I was out of my complex, and then I would take off like the wind!

I took off like the wind. I gave it everything I had. I got one block away and I was ready to stop. I was practically screaming to myself, "Tonja, YOU ARE NOT A RUNNER! Go back to your warm and cozy home and melt into the couch and get lost in the History Channel!" This is the point where I have previously caved in. Slowing to a walk, I would generally turn myself around, defeated and sad that running just wasn't my thing. Not today, my friends. Today I pushed on. My lungs were frozen solid. I was sure that at any moment they would shatter into a billion irreparable pieces and I would be a goner! My eyes were stinging from the chilling wind and the bright sun that I was running directly into. They stung so badly that there were literally tears running down my cheeks. My fellow runners on the Provo trail must have been concerned for this poor girl running in tears. [Please do not judge me, I have sensitive eyes!] Despite the discomfort, I pushed on.

Somewhere along the way I noticed beauty. I noticed the flowing river and the floating ducks. I noticed the orange leaves under my feet and the crystal-clear blue sky above my head. It was CLARIFYING! I noticed that even though my legs were burning, I was still going! I was doing it! At this exact, life-changing moment that I have so longed for, the song "Beating Hearts Baby" by Head Automatica began to play on my iPod. I giggled to myself as I became fully aware of my heart about to beat out of my chest. I could hear it in my ears and feel it in my head. My heart pounded with the rhythm of my feet on the pavement and the beat of the song and I loved it. It was EXHILARATING! I don't know how it happened, but I picked up the pace. I pushed a little harder and I ran a little faster. I was running and it was A RUSH!

Having never felt the high of a run like this before, I decided to go a little further than originally planned. I turned into a housing development and I ran around the windy sidewalks feeling the burn, being uncomfortable, but still pushing on.

As I rounded the corner to my complex, nearing the final stretch, "Don't Fear The Reaper" by The Blue Oyster Cult blasted into my ear phones. I could see my front door, I was almost there! Breathlessly, I kept on going. My legs and butt were on fire. My nose hurt from the biting wind. I. Could. Not. Breathe.

Plowing through my front door, I collapsed onto my couch. I HAD DONE IT! This girl who just was not a runner suddenly was. Hobbling upstairs I couldn't keep from smiling. As I turned on the steaming hot water I was grateful for the stubbornness that helped to nudge me out that door. Though I can't yet put the words "driven", "passionate", or "dedicated" on my tombstone, I can sure as hell put "stubborn" and baby, that feels good.

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