In high school I decided to take up running. At the time, I was applying for entrance to normal colleges (actually, I don’t think anyone would consider Caltech normal) as well as the Naval and Air Force Academies. I figured that if I went to a military academy I would be doing lots of running so I might as well make my peace with it. I bought a pair of athletic shoes – I don’t even think that I knew running-specific shoes existed and hit the pavement. I hated it. I was incredibly self conscious wondering what others thought of me and how I looked. I was bored with nothing to look at but identical suburban tract homes. I was in pain with shin splints from running on concrete in poor shoes. In the end, even though I was accepted, I decided that a military academy was not right for me (turns out that was a good choice) and thus ended my self flagellating running adventure.
I’ve made no secret that the past couple of years have been rough for me, but throughout it all, I have found exercise to be an amazing anti-depressant. Of course, finding the time to exercise between the demands of family, work, and home is not trivial. And since I switched to a new position at work in September, featuring 2 – 3 hours of commuting, on my workdays my exercise time has seemed to evaporate. A couple of weeks ago I was struck by an odd thought out of nowhere…”I want to go for a run.” I am not sure what came over me. Perhaps it was the glorious cool and sunny weather. Or maybe it was the epiphany that I could exercise with the kids if I ran with them in a double jogging stroller. A few days later, much to my surprise, I laced up my shoes, popped my baby in a jogging stroller, and went for a run. And I liked it.
I liked it so much I decided to start the couch to 5K program. I test drove double jogging strollers and then stalked craigslist until I found my favorite at a reasonable price. I ordered myself a pair of spiffy running shoes. I don’t care what I look like. I am having fun with the kids looking at all the beautiful houses in our neighborhood. I am taking it slow and listening to my body. I am having a blast. And it’s not just the exercise itself that’s been uplifting, it’s the knowledge that at 32 years old I can still surprise myself. I am not always who I thought I was. Apparently, I am a runner.