The last time I ran an actual race, I was a junior in high school.
I had quit the track team the previous year, after they tore up the race track to prepare for new construction. I decided it wasn't worth training the town over (or in the gym), so I did what all winners do and quit.
There was this wonderful Turkey Trot in memory of a girl who had been killed in an automobile accident. The Dreamcatcher Race, if I remember correctly. You could participate in the 1-mile "fun run" or the 5k. Being a sprinter, I chose the fun run.
I remember turning around where the regular racers went straight on. I remember doing my half-hearted jog back, marveling at the fact that the other runners were able to do this, multiplied by 3.1. How did they get there? I was exhausted just by doing one little mile.
Then, I went to college, and, thanks to how campus life operates, I technically had a gym membership. The Northeastern Gym was right on Huntington Ave, with glass walls facing the T-stop and the road that intersected Huntington. I would find a free elliptical and give routine exercise the old college try, all the while listening to Alkaline Trio and brooding over whatever boy was doing me wrong at that time. My only went sporadically after my freshman year, when my dorm was no longer right next to it.
I moved off campus by my senior year, to an apartment complex that had its own gym room. I would run 2 or 3 miles on the treadmill and be so damn proud of myself because I was running for a solid 25 minutes. Twenty-five minutes! That's like a sitcom length!
I transitioned over to outside running when I moved up to New Hampshire. I got up to 5 miles in one go before I gave myself shin splints so painful that I hobbled around for a solid week. I put a moratorium on running, waiting for the gumption to transition over to natural running.
That winter, I essentially started from scratching, going back to the gym and attempting to jog on the balls of my feet for a whole minute at a time. I finished the transition regimine, got back into the swing of things, and slowly built up my calf muscles, idly dreaming of one day running a marathon. Someday.
Then the Boston Bombings happened. Running took on a new meaning. I went to the gym and ran that night, surreptitiously wiping tears away while on the treadmill. The Saturday after the lockdown, I researched half-marathons, and signed up for Ashland.
I remember how daunting it felt. I would lose my mind over just 5 miles, and now I was going to run 13.1? I had until October, but I felt like I needed a whole lifetime to train. I started training, stopped, started again, got derailed by moving and vacations and injury, and somehow, through all of that, got to 13 miles on my own 3 weeks before the race.
It's been a nutty ride, but it's not over yet. I still have to run the race. I still have my 16-miler. I still have the Boston 10k in June. And I still have Chicago in October. Nothing to do now but put one foot in front of the other one.