Monday, November 18, 2013

My relationship with running is like Taylor Swift's dating record

First race: TC 10K, 2010

As quick and passionate as T-Swift’s love affairs are, so too do my feelings about running fluctuate with the tide. A running route once beloved quickly becomes the enemy. I flip flop about whether I like running with music. I struggle to commit to a run. I commit too quickly to a race without thinking things through. I endure extreme physical pain to maintain my relationship. And the way things are looking, I may end up needing surgery to fix my broken heart…er…knee. The list goes on. I can find myself a running metaphor in almost any Taylor Swift song.

I was not a runner growing up—I only came to the sport when injury upon injury prevented me from playing soccer as often as I would have liked. I started running during my sophomore year of college, and desperate for competition, I signed up for my first race, a 10k. After that, I was hooked.

The crowds. The cheers. The signs. The free stuff. The sense of pride after completing another race. They say running can be a drug, and I know this to be the truth. (But just like drugs, it also kind of sucks. So there’s that.)

I ran my first half marathon on Memorial Day after my junior year of college. It was so hard, discouraging, and enlightening. I struggled with nerves that led to nausea. I walked a lot. I felt guilty for holding up my running partner. But I finished. Slower than my goal time, but I did it. 2:16. Loud and proud. My parents were there at the finish line and told me they were proud of me. I was proud of me. And I knew I could do better, so I knew I needed to fight even harder.

I ran a few more half marathons and 5k’s, usually alone. I trained alone, I raced alone. It was my time to myself, where I could process the day and get all my stresses out. I would actually lace up at 10:00 at night if I was too stressed working on a paper and come back and feel energized and focused. This makes me laugh now, since these days, every run is a struggle.

A year and a half ago, the same day as my college senior project presentation, I PR’d on the half. It was a very emotional race for me, and I was really excited about my time. I wrapped up college very much dependent on running—it provided me not only a sense of pride, but also therapeutic feelings of accomplishment and relief.

Since college, running and I have experienced lots of turbulence, ranging in moods of elation and desperations not unlike Taylor’s break ups with Harry Styles, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor Lautner, Conor Kennedy etc. Are there more to add to this list?
Before training for the Twin Cities marathon, I was in a phase of minimal running and pissing and moaning about every run I did manage to drag my ass out the door for.
In short, without a daily schedule or consistent lifestyle, I struggled. Running and I were in a bit of an emotionally draining cycle—complete with fights, frustration, and a few tears on my end.

And then came the marathon. I will devote a whole post to that mother in due course but let’s just say this: it was the hardest thing I have ever done and I cried to my mommy at mile 19. I bitched. I complained. I cried more than I care to admit. I also laughed. And fist-pumped. And high-fived strangers. And hugged little kids. I saw friends and family and cried with gratitude. And now I have a 26.2 sticker on my car and a lifetime membership to the marathoner club. HOLLA!

After four months of hardcore training and running ALL. THE. TIME., running and I have decided to take a break. I also have a semi-serious knee injury that has proven impossible to diagnose and even harder to treat. Score. So this is where we are right now:

But ultimately, my relationship with running is a labor of love, and I know we will find our way back to each other eventually. I want a better time on le marathon, please and thank you. So running, you are my Romeo, I’ll be your Juliet, and I’m comin’ back to you eventually. I just hope neither of us drinks any poison in the meantime.

Side note: if you actually watched all of those T-Swift videos, hats off to you. Fun game? Try and figure out which songs are about which strained, complicated, passionate, dramatic, and ultimately failed relationships. I’ll be honest, I have no idea.