May 29, 2011

Running

Why do we run?
Mt. SAC cross country course map. Note: It's not as simple as it looks. :)

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to running. When I run, I feel this sense of hatred towards the act of it because of the endless pain and fatigue. When I am not running, I feel regret and a desire to run. So, how can I feel content with running? I honestly don't know. I wish I did. I wish running didn't seem like hard, joyless, routine-like work. I can recall the times when running is carefree, fun, casual, and uplifting. So, why am I not tempted to feel this sense of adrenaline again? I guess I don't want to force myself and feel like the need for commitment. I tried the gym, but I don't want to confine myself in a small building and run. I don't want to recognize anyone during my runs. I just want to train myself to run and feel okay. The problem are my excuses. I can almost always find an excuse to not run.

Reading To Be a Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running With The Bulls, Or Just Taking On A 5-K Makes You A Better Person (And The World A Better Place) by Martin Dugard gave me motivation to start running once again. I want to run for me. I want to make running part of my life. Even though I make a dozen excuses to not run, I need to push myself to get out and run. I shouldn't punish myself for not running. I should remind myself why I'm doing this. Maybe after my relentless battle in my mind, I will one day consistently run again.

Being part of cross country has been such an experience that I still cannot describe anything about it. I always try to put in words how I felt about the year that I joined cross country but it's difficult. So many people joined cross country for their college resume. People can probably say the same for me. I wish that was true. If it were, I wouldn't feel so attached to this torturous relationship.

Honestly, I loved running ever since that day in 1st grade. It was major competitive running day of some sort. I think it was around 1996 since the Olympics were that year. Everyone came out in the back field for a school-wide day of races. I remember standing with four other people, getting ready for our relay race. It was a short distance of 50 meters to a certain destination and back. That's such a joke, right? 50 meters is almost nothing. Anyway, I honestly cannot recall how far the run was. I do know that it was a short distance. Our team was racing against five other teams. We totally sucked. None of us knew what was going on. Well, I mostly didn't know what was going on since I communicated in Chinese at that time even though I grew up in the United States. I don't remember where I was in line, probably third or fourth. Standing there, people kept cheering and yelling! "Go go go!" When the person in front me came back, I was nervous and felt this weight was upon me. I knew that I had to run and come back as fast as I can. Running to my destination and back, I forgot my nervousness. I felt so fulfilled. I felt the adrenaline. I felt like I found my passion. From that day on, I love running. If I felt down, running would always cheer me up. If I was angry, I'd run off. So, no, I didn't join cross country because I wanted to make my resume look gorgeous. I didn't do it because I wanted to lose weight. I didn't join the team to stay with my friends (that was a plus side, though). I didn't do it for anything and anyone. I did it for me. I did it to continue running. I did it to feel like a sense of purpose.

One of the greatest races I ever ran in my life was the Mt. SAC Invitational in October 2007. I remember nothing turned out right that morning. Our team came to school at 4am. There was suppose to be a bus that drove us to Mt. SAC. However, the bus never came. Around 6am or so, some parent supporters drove us to Mt. SAC. It probably took three or four trips for everyone to finally get there. The races itself are such a blur. I remember the JV races were around 10am or something. I was so unprepared for the run. I didn't go through the strenuous training prior to the event. I was horrible at running uphill. I was terrified of the height. That run was just plain bad for me. Despite, the bad memories during the run, it was a good experience. I got to chat with some people. Yes, participating in a race means you're not suppose to be in friendly terms, but I love encouraging people to run. While I walked uphill (because I couldn't run it), lots of people pass me. I told them all, "Great job" and keep going because they deserve it. They managed to endure everything whereas I failed to. Despite the fact that I sound like such a loser for running, there were a lot of walkers, too. I talked to them as we were still uphill. Some people were friendly and some weren't. I remember I tried to help some girl who sprained her ankle. Despite her inability to run, she wanted to walk the whole thing. Ahh, the memories. They're so vague and fragile. You know, I might be mixing up memories around, but I did see and did all these things during my cross country days. Getting off this tangent, Dugard mentions in his book about attending the invitational that I attended. It sounded like such a day. His varsity boys team placed! Just think about it. The same day that I attended the Mt. SAC Invitational, he was there. He had a story. I had a story. It's absurd. Thousands of people were there. Everyone had a story. Not everyone had a winning story, but we all had a story. Oddly, we are all connected by this single invitational and this idea gives me the chills. It makes me hope that I'd meet someone by chance that attended the same invitational.

I was a sophomore in high school when I joined cross country and track. So, it's been four years since them. I just finished my second year of college. Oh gosh, can you believe it? Where has the time gone? I stopped running. I did run for an entire month the summer after I graduated. I do attempt to run around the neighborhood occasionally, but the shin splints always seem to come back. I do run at the school gym at least once a semester which is pathetic. Once again, I'm telling myself to run. To run because I want to. It's in my blood. No matter how much pain it gives me, I keep coming back. So maybe one of these days I will listen to myself and do not stop running. I hope that I will listen to myself and keep going.

Image sources: One, Two , Three

2 comments:

  1. Don't you get that awesome endorphin rush after a great run. I ran cross-country in track and my best friend used to run next to me shouting motivational commands in my ear. I still heard them for many years afterwards. Especially towards the end of a run, she would say, "Last stretch! Give it all you've got!" No matter how long my run, I would make myself sprint those last 100 yards and I always felt this rush. Now, I am almost 50 and my knees are effed. What can I say?

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  2. @Aly: Most definitely! I miss that rush. And, I'm glad cross country and track gave you such an unforgettable experience. And, you're 50? If that's a photo of you in your icon, you don't even look like it! :)

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