Any serious or frequent runner will tell you that running is so much more than the physical act of running itself. Sure, you can put one foot in front of the other for a few miles...but when it becomes an hour and then a few hours and you are training for half and full marathons or even more, running becomes about something else. You begin to see your body not strictly for how it looks, but as this amazing machine that adapts and needs to be nourished and cared for as it carries you through the miles of pavement pounding and the decades of your life and all you put it through.
As I have trained for my first marathon, I have thought a lot about why I am doing it. It's not about changing my body or weight loss (I would actually tell any person trying to lose weight to NOT train for a half or full marathon...those leg muscles go a little crazy and your appetite gets a little cray as well), it's not about keeping in shape (you only need to run a few miles a few times a week to do that and this honestly can lead many to injury), it's not about doing it because other people are doing it (you would be insane to do something like this "just because"), it's not because you love to run (many people love to run and have no desire to do a marathon-> I was one of them until about a year ago!) and it's not even about checking off a bucket list item (heck, there are a million other things you could be doing for your bucket list that take less time and energy and who even gets to their full bucket list in a lifetime?!). You have to have a reason that goes deeper.
My reason isn't easy to pinpoint. I just feel it when I run. I try to think of all the things that I have been lucky enough to be able to do in my life: get an education, travel, find a job easily, buy a house, support myself, be healthy and have a wonderful network of friends and family near and far. I have had a relatively easy life, in the grand scheme of things. Sure I have struggled with things and had my share of up and downs, but I have been so lucky.
So I run for them: the people who can't; the people who want to but haven't; the people who enable me to be where I am today; the people who have touched my life; the people who haven't been lucky enough to do what I have done in my short life. I run for my past, present and future, because I don't know what will happen. I run because it heals me and sets me free. I run for the times when I wasn't and won't be able to. I run for what I have overcome. Sometimes I don't know the why but I simply know the how. And the how brings me full circle.
So thank you to all who have been with me through this experience and have influenced me for where I am today. No matter what happens during the race this weekend, I have achieved so much already. I don't need to complete 26.2 miles to make me feel any more lucky or grateful than I already do.
Running is hard, but it is easier than a lot of things we go through in life.
Check out these great organizations around Richmond that running supports: Still Easier Than Chemo, Massey, Girls on the Run, and Race for the Cure.