This past weekend, I had a table at the Cleveland Marathon Expo, selling and signing copies of Running with a Police Escort. The last time I was here was two years ago, just months after the book was published. This time I shared a booth with fellow writer and runner Nita Sweeney and had an absolutely delightful time.
I saw some old friends and a few coworkers, but also met a lot of new people and readers. Author signings is one of my favorite parts about being a writer and something like the Cleveland Marathon Expo means I get to meet people who are basically my target audience.
Running and I have been in a complicated relationship over the past few years. Three, to be exact, ever since #anklegate. I do miss it though, and the Expo made me realize how much. (That said, I don’t miss the whole running in summer thing and this was a particularly brutal year for the race.) But I think my mind may slowly be coming around to the idea of separating running for fun from the idea of running for weight loss.
My relationship with running has never really recovered from that fibula break in 2016. Oh, my ankle is fine. I can run just find physically. This is all mental, and I know that.
When I started running in February 2012, it was completely spontaneous. I just felt this pull to go out there. But then it all became so, well, complicated. I lost the magic of just running.
Then, last week, just as spontaneously as the very first time, I went for a run. Only a mile and it took 20 minutes, but that was definitely faster than I was anticipating. Especially considering it had been months since I had been out there. Plus, while I do my walking intervals anyway, I assumed I would need to do even more walking but that also wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected.
This was the first time in a really, really long time that I felt that pull. The first time I wasn’t running because of a training plan or because diet culture was telling me that I “should.” This was a run I did because I wanted to. Because it sounded fun. Because I was capturing that feeling of strength and power. It reminded me of those very early runs, way back in the beginning.
I was talking with one of my friends at the Expo about how the run last week didn’t make me hate running. She added “and it didn’t make you hate yourself.” I don’t think I’d had it put so bluntly before, but yes. For years now, running has made me hate myself. It’s made me realize not how far I’ve come, but how far I still have to go. How far back I’ve gone. Every time I’d go out there, all I could think about was how much slower I am now and how I’m not at the same fitness level as I was three years ago. Every run became a comparison to the Old Me, rather than just accepting where I am today and seeing it as a new opportunity to improve. Really, it’s all up from here.
Deciding that I wanted to recommit (and wanting to do more than just say I was going to recommit) I actually ordered myself a new pair of running shoes! I haven’t bought a new pair in, uh, like three years which means they are way past their expiration date. (They are also the first non-Tieks new pair of shoes I’ve bought in ages LOL)
I dunno, y’all. My running journey might turn into a comeback story after all.