As I’ve said in multiple posts, I am both knackered and uncommonly busy at the moment as life has thrown me curve ball after curve ball with many swings and quite a few misses. This leads me to introduce my great friend and someone I admire a great deal: Libby.
I’ve known Libby for about seven years (since our freshman year of college! How has time flown this quickly?) and, after our last get together and seeing all she has done since graduation – hearing all her stories – I couldn’t wait to see if I could get her to come and tell some of these stories to all of you. To start us off, she’s written a runner’s bio which explains why and how she’s ended up on this site and, reading this piece, I found that the way she’s written about her runner’s journey is how I always feel about travel and (more recently) running.
So without further ado, this is Libby and her amazing story!
I wanted to start off this article by saying how long I’ve been a runner, but then I realized I don’t have an answer to that question. The more I thought about it the more I realized: “At what point can you call yourself a runner?” What defines a runner? Is it the moment I signed up for my first race? Is it the first time I decided to leave my room and attempt to go for a run? Is it after I would run more than once a week? Is it after I finished my first 5K? My first half marathon? My first marathon? I don’t have the answer to this question, but I’m going to go with my gut here and say I started calling myself a runner soon after one of my best friends of 18 years passed away in July 2013.
I was stricken with so many emotions after her death: anger, sadness, confusion, hurt, emptiness, nostalgia, and so much more. It was difficult saying goodbye to somebody I grew up with. Especially with somebody that stayed friends with me throughout Kindergarten to College (and not to mention all the drama that ensued in 7th and 8th grade). I just couldn’t comprehend how my life could go on without her. I was so inundated with all these feelings I didn’t know what to do with them. I was worried that I would sink into a depression and spiral back into self-harm (an issue I had dealt with for about 10 years). But thankfully I had just enough fight in me to not allow that to happen.
So instead, I went for a run.
I remember that run pretty well. It was the first time I had seriously attempted a run since joining my high school’s cross country team five years prior. I had hoped that my muscle memory would magically kick in and that I would be able to run at least three miles to help get my mind off of the grief. But alas, that is not what happened. Instead, I only ran for about five minutes. But for those five minutes I was able to take my mind off of things, which felt amazing. When I got back to my apartment that day, I decided to sign up for a 5K because I figured that would be a great incentive for me to get on a consistent running routine.
After a couple weeks of training, I ran my first 5K in 27 minutes. I was so thrilled with my time because that was faster than any of my times back when I ran cross country. I felt a real sense of accomplishment and pride. I could feel my self-confidence boosting and my grief dissipating. I knew after that first 5K that I had found the perfect outlet for my grief.
A few hours after the race, I found myself craving that feeling I had at the finish line again. But next time, I thought, I want to push myself even further. I want to feel even more accomplished. I want to squash my self-doubt and grief even harder. So, a few days after the 5K I signed up for my first half and full marathon.
I spent the next six months of my life running three to five times a week training for those races. I could feel myself becoming stronger and more confident. I could feel all those negative emotions going away: the sadness, the anger, the emptiness. Running started becoming meditative to me. It was defining my life. I started calling myself a “long-distance runner.” All of this was making me so incredibly happy. This is why I am still a runner to this day and I am proud to say I’ve accomplished an astounding number of races so far; one 5K, three 10Ks, one 12K, 19 half marathons and nine marathons.
Not only has running been beneficial for me in terms of dealing with my self-esteem and emotions, it has helped me fulfill my desire to travel. So far, here is a list of all the places I’ve gotten to travel to/visit (or will travel to in the next year): Napa, CA; Oakland, CA; San Francisco, CA; Utah (Wasatch Back Region); Chicago, IL; New York City (three times); Santa Cruz, CA; Hawaii (The Big Island); and Big Sur, CA.
In my next post, I will be writing all about my experience getting to travel to New York City to run the marathon there in October/November 2015. The New York City Marathon has been my favorite race so far and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Until next time, stay awesome everybody.
That’s all for this week, but we would love to hear from anyone who has traveled for running or anyone who wants to (I know I do!). Until then,
This is Leave on the Wind (and the amazing Libby), helping you soar.