Why I Run

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.”
-Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile

Why do I run?

Interesting question, because up until a about a year ago – I didn’t.  I knew a lot of runners.  Although, I never went and watched them race, nor was even the slightest bit curious as to why they ran.  But somewhere that all changed.  Sometime last year, while walking the track at my gym, I thought…”Hey…why don’t I run a lap?”  And from there…it all started.  I’d gradually increase my laps, until I was doing 3 miles at the track.

I know a lot of people say that they don’t like running…they just do it.  Here’s the difference.  I don’t just like running…I love it.  Sure, there are mornings where the last thing I want to do is put on my running clothes and get in a run.  But I always talk myself into it and in the end, I feel so much better afterward.

I made a promise to myself and my roommate held me to it.  I’m glad she did.  My promise was…if I could run 3 miles on the track, then I was going to attempt my first race.  I was going to find a local 5K and give it a go.  So, I did.  Back on April 9, 2011, I tackled my first 5K.  My goal…to run the entire thing.  And I did…in a respectable amount of time for a newbie runner on her first road race, I’d say.  Considering I had only started running in February, I was quite pleased.  And from there…the running addict inside me was born.  I became obsessed with racing.  I loved being out there…in the parks…on the streets, running with my fellow racers.  It’s one of the biggest highs I get in life…and it’s completely legal.

I ran my heart out last year…discovering a lot about myself in the process.  Here’s a short run-down of my 2011 races:

April 9, 2011 – University of Louisville Healthcare Classic 5K – Cherokee Park, Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 30:28
My first race…ever.  My roommate and co-worker, Laura, came out to cheer me on.  My co-worker brought her husband, who said I didn’t even look winded at the end.

April 23, 2011 – Tomorrow’s Children Fun Run 5K – Frankfort, Kentucky
Time: 27:04
It poured down rain the entire time, but I had a blast running in this one.  My second race, and I won first in my age division.

May 14, 2011 – Cleveland Marathon 5K – Cleveland, Ohio
Time: 28:24
Another race in the rain, through the city of Cleveland. I ran past the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, and the finish line was on the field of Cleveland Brown’s Stadium.

May 21, 2011 – Geist Run Around the Reservoir 5K – Geist Reservoir, Indianapolis, Indiana
Time: 28:10
First time I ran without my headphones.  Loved this race.  And had a beautifully, sunny day (finally!).  The most difficult part was the 2 hour drive up to Indianapolis that morning for the start.

May 28, 2011 – Run for the Berries 5K – Strawberry Festival, Starlight, Indiana
Time: 26:53
Just what it sounds like.  When you’re done, you get a big bowl of strawberries (which happen to be my favorite fruit).  With all the hills in this area, I couldn’t believe my time when I crossed the finish line.

June 18, 2011 – Activate America 5 Miler – Frankfort, Kentucky
Time: 45:07
Thunder, lightning, pouring rain.  But the race was still on.  I had a sore foot, an injury from bad walking shoes while on a vacation in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  But, I really wanted to race.  Ended up altering my stride when my foot bothered me and did some damage to my knee.  These two injuries took many hospital and doctor’s visits to finally clear up.  Thankfully, U2 was touring, so I was taking some time off from running to follow the band around to six different shows.

August 27, 2001 – Walk Away from Colon Cancer 5K – Iroquois Park, Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 30:52
My first race back, with permission from my doctor and orthopedic doctor.  I walked one hill and posted my slowest 5K time yet, but really didn’t want to push my knee and foot too hard with my first half marathon looming just weeks away.

September 3, 2011 – Indianapolis Women’s 5K – Indianapolis, Indiana
Time: 29:52
My only goal on this race was to get across the finish line in less than 30 minutes.  I did accomplish that!  This was the inaugural running of this race, in conjunction with a half marathon.  This year…I’m running the half.

September 11, 2011 – Chicago Half Marathon – Chicago, Illinois
Time: 2:20:51
My first half marathon.  I went into this without training due to the time I had to take off for my injuries.  I had never run this far.  And so many people had told me I couldn’t do it.  Fueled by only a bowl of Chex mix, I managed to rock this race and learned to pack items to munch on during the run.  It was over 80 degrees out.  I walked at every aid station to drink water (and one Gatorade around Mile 10 for sugar).  My roommate and my friend Heather met me at the finish line.  I had never felt so accomplished in my life.  And what a great day to run.

October 8, 2011 – Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K  – Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 25:59
This was the first race I ever did fundraising for.  And also this was the first time my parents got to see me run.  They drove up from Birmingham, Alabama.  I now think of them as my running luck charms, as I hit a new PR for my 5K race time.  Very emotional race.

October 15, 2011 – Million Mutt March 5K – Cherokee Park, Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 28:14
This was a spur-of-the-moment race.  I registered at the very last moment.  Great cause…for the no kill shelter in Louisville, Kentucky.  Got to see lots of dogs and cats that were in need of adoption.  Just a great run that morning.

October 22, 2011 – Doug’s Run 10K – Iroquois Park, Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 54:04
My friend, Kimberly, asked me to run this race as it is named after her cousin.  I couldn’t turn that down.  This race has a few kinks to work out.  Some runners weren’t made aware of the start place, and I only heard the announcement just before the 9 a.m. kick-off.  By the time I got to the “start” the race was already going.  So, I took it for what it was worth, ran my 10K, finished strong, and ended up, judging off the time my roommate kept on my phone, winning my age division!

October 22, 2011 – Tap ‘n Run 4K – Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 21:48
No…you read that right.  I ran two races this day.  The 10K in the morning and then this 4K that evening.  What made this race so much fun was that the water stops were beer stops.  I breezed through them, though, because I have a gluten intolerance and I can’t do beer.  My roommate also ran this race, and finished with a respectable time…much sooner than either of us anticipated.  Really fun time.

October 28, 2011 – Black Cat Chase 5K – Frankfort, Kentucky
Time: 27:36
Running in the dark.  This was my first night race and it was a lot of fun!  It had rained for a little while, but stopped just before it was time to run.  Finally, a race in Frankfort where I wouldn’t be soaked at the end of it.  This was the first of three races that weekend!

October 29, 2011 – And They’re Off 5K – Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 27:41
From a night race to an early morning race.  This was a chilly morning, but the race was in and around Churchill Downs.  I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.  Had a great time.  Small race.  And the second one of my weekend of running.

October 30, 2011 – Republic Bank’s Big Hit Quarter Marathon – Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 1:03:49
I had very tired legs going into this race.  At 6.55 miles, it is just a tick over 10K status.  This was the inaugural running of this race too, also in conjunction with a half marathon.  I went with the quarter because, they are rare, and I had run two other races in the two days prior to this one.  Just playing it smart.  Finished strong.  Very cold that morning…but I warmed up over the miles.

November 19, 2011 – Moonlight Four Miler – Indianapolis, Indiana
Time: 36:43
Another run in the dark.  I loved it.  Every moment of it.  And I came in sooner than I anticipated, which was awesome.  Very good course through the city streets and a park.  Would run this one again in a heartbeat.

November 24, 2011 – Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, Indiana
Time: 44:48
My Thanksgiving day run.  This was also supposed to end my running season.  The good news…I beat my previous time on a five mile race.  The interesting part…I had very stiff legs for the first two miles, then my mile 3 I developed a side stitch.  But I was determined to make the t-shirt on this one (the top 500 finishers make it on next year’s t-shirt).  At first, I didn’t think I had managed, but when the official results were posted, I found out I had definitely earned a spot on the t-shirt.  Mission: Accomplished.

Race season done…right?

Wrong.  I couldn’t not run.

December 10, 2011 – Reindeer Romp 4K – Cherokee Park, Louisville, Kentucky
Time: 21:35
Mere seconds, but I beat my last 4K time.  This was a chilly morning on a very hilly course.  But you forget about the cold once that start whistle blows.  You just run.  And I did.

December 17, 2011 – Santa Hustle 5K – White River State Park – Indianapolis, Indiana
Time: 27:29
Everything that could have gone wrong for this race did.  I had a friend pick up my packet, and then my roommate and I hit the road much later than anticipated.  I got up there 10 minutes before the official start.  I had no idea where to go to get started, and I still had to meet up with Susan to get my packet.  Managed to find her.  Got changed into my Santa shirt (runners all dressed as Santa) and hat, got my timing chip tied onto my laces and got corralled with the walkers.  Took off…finally…and did some running on the grass to get past the walkers.  About 2 miles in, I looked down and my shoelace with the timing tag on it was untied.  The tag had stayed on, thankfully.  Had to stop to tie it, but still finished strong.

And that was the end of my 2011 racing season.  I ran every day in December as part of my friend Armand’s REDD (Run Every Day in December) campaign.  And I even did runs when I went to see my family in Birmingham, Alabama for Christmas.  My brother-in-law, Bryan, just started running, and we went on a run together.  It was a lot of fun.  Then, we both got signed up for a 5K in Birmingham in February.  It will be his first.

Already it’s January 12, and I have one race under my belt and two coming up in February.  My racing calendar in March is packed.  And I’m signed up for two half marathon’s already…planning on one quarter marathon…a half in October…but mostly excited about running a half marathon in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Why?  Because my grandpa will get to see me race.  And why is this important?  Because grandpa used to run in races.  He took up running in his 50s and kept going until just a few years ago.  He’s now 90 and when I visited for his 90th birthday party, we talked running.  I was determined to run a race in Minnesota, so I’m making it happen in June.

Why do I love running?   Because it’s freedom.  It’s just me…the road…my music…and my thoughts.  I learned a lot since my first race.  I’ve improved.  I’ve come back from injury.  I’ve taken on various distances.  And I’m ready to do it all over again in 2012.  Thankfully, I have a great support team in my family, my roommate, and my friends.  They may not get why I run…but they support me.  And they cheer me on.  And that…is one of the best feelings in the world.

Running, for me, is passion.  It’s love.  It has to be because it usually requires an ungodly morning wake-up time to get to the start in time to stretch.  It sometimes means facing various weather conditions.  In the end…I love it.  And when I lace up my running shoes and hit the road, I’m in heaven.  Bad days…good days…mediocre days…they all can be made better when I can get in my run.

And that…is why I run.

My race bib & finisher's medal at the Chicago Half Marathon on September 11, 2011
My race bib & finisher's medal at the Chicago Half Marathon on September 11, 2011 (Photo Credit: Heather Dillon)

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