When I decided to start training for my first half marathon about 10 months ago, I thought, well, I'll do this one and say I did it, and then I'll stop. Never in my life did I dream that I would plan on doing more, and plan on doing a full marathon. Now, as I look back, I realize it was such a pivotal point in my life. Yesterday, I completed my third half marathon. In 6 days, I will complete my 4th. Seeing that finish line, and then crossing it is an indescribable feeling that cannot even begin to be put into words. Why do people do it? Well, I can't speak for the thousands of other runners in this world, but these are my top 10. Since I'm such a newbie, it'll probably change in the coming months and I certainly hope years. But for now, here they are.
Reason #10. To help keep in shape. This was never my intention to get into running, but I've realized it's made me a healthier person, both emotionally and physically. When I lace up my shoes, I can feel my mind and body begin to relax. When I start running, I'm not at work, I'm not taking care of my kids, I'm not worrying. I'm just out running.
Reason #9. It boosts my self-confidence. I promise you, who would have "thunk" it? Erin? Even my dad laughed when I first told him I was going to train for my first half marathon. Since I've done it though, it has helped me realize that I can cross hurdles I never thought imaginable.
Reason #8. Pretty trails. This is probably the sentimental part of me emerging, but there's a particular trail we run, and to see the dew resting on the grass, the horses grazing in the field, and the sun boucing off the fields of corn is absolutely breathtaking. It forces you to stop for a moment and appreciate the beautiful things God has created.
Reason #7. All those free shirts. (and the goodie bags) Silly? Absolutely. I'd be lying if I said I didn't look forward to seeing the new shirt from each race I do. I can see how people who have been doing this for years have more shirts than they know what to do with, but with me being a beginner, I still get a little giddy. Plus, opening up a goodie bag is like Christmas! (And yes, I realize that I pay for it via my registration fee, but still...)
Reason #6. The social aspect. I've found that the running community is like it's own little world. Runners greet one another on the trail and if someone is hurt, total strangers stop to offer help. Sure, it's common courtesy, but it's just different. You meet new people, great people, and build lasting relationships. I have met some of my very best friends because I decided to join up in this community. They will be lifelong, I am sure of it.
Reason #5. It forces me to live better. I now eat a little healthier, go to bed a little earlier (sometimes) and in general take better care of myself, which means I feel healthier. While I still have a long way to go, I have made huge strides. When you are meeting your friends at 5:45 a.m., the thought of staying out until 2 or 3 a.m. doing who knows what just doesn't sound appealing anymore.
Reason #4. Races have a beneficiary. We all have charities we are passionate about. Well, at least I have mine. I've learned that the larger races all usually have a charity (sometimes more than one) that the proceeds go towards. That makes spending $60-$130 on a registration fee seem a little easier, knowing that a reputable charity is receiving part of that. Also, a lot of people are running for a purpose. I still get a chill every time I see someone with a shirt that says they are running in memory of someone. EVERY TIME. No matter how hot it is or if I am sweating.
Reason #3. The medal. Do I really need to say anything else? It's just cool.
Reason #2. Team in Training. I can't say enough about this fabulous organization. They're the ones who got me through my first race, and I'll continue with them as much as I can. Raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been rewarding and inspiring. People's generosity will never cease to amaze me. The number of people who have been affected by these blood cancers are much too many. Through TNT I have met great friends, I have learned so much about myself, and I have accomplished endeavors I never thought possible. Now, seeing other people experience it is even sweeter.
Reason #1. Because I can. So many people cannot run or walk regularly because of health reasons. I can. It reminds me of a quote that I heard when I first started this, "I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can't run, what they'd do to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them. I know they would do the same for me." This quote sums it up; the use of my legs and the ability to get out there and run is something I take for granted. But perspective is such an important aspect to consider; empathize, and remember, not everyone has that opportunity.