How I Found My Love of Running
For me, running came into my life in seventh grade, when I signed up for my middle school cross country team. Having moved to a new school that year, I’m sure my parents thought it would be a great way for me to meet kids. It was something that felt good and a sport that seemed easier for me than perfecting layups on the basketball court. I continued throughout high school, juggling running and my passion for showing horses and trail riding. I certainly wasn’t the kid on the team who trained all summer in preparation for the season, I didn’t even run one mile in the summers between school. Running seemed to come naturally to me, but I didn’t have the love I have for it now. My high school coach, Mr. Burg, was and still is my most favorite coach I had in any school sport. He encouraged us, brought us together, and made us feel part of something. But even his enthusiasm and knowledge didn’t make me love running.
Flash forward to my marriage, having two boys, and a move that brought us to Southern Vermont. I clearly remember sitting at my son’s kindergarten basketball practice and seeing four or five moms lacing up their shoes. I asked them where they were going, as it was not a pleasant day outside. They said they were heading out to run together and I thought to myself, “hmm…. that looks kinda fun.” It certainly peaked my interest and I began joining them on some runs. I was still an avid horsewoman, so running certainly wasn’t a passion or real hobby, but a way for me to connect with new friends and get some exercise in.
The one thing I will say about the folks in our town is they know how to adventure and push each other into starting crazy goals. There is something most definitely in the water here. One of these adventures was running ten miles to the Weathersfield Trail head, hiking up and over Mt. Ascutney and running home, totalling about 18-20 miles. I really didn’t think this could ever be achievable for me, but my friends, Ashley and Susan said I could do it, they’d lead the way. We ran out of water halfway up and drank from the streams, ate snacks and laughed a whole lot through those miles. On the way down, I remember one of them saying, “If you can do this you can run the VT50k!” This grabbed my attention. I had ridden my horses in many 50 mile races and the VT100, seeing these crazy ultra runners along the way, but never did I ever say, “I’d love to do that.” I did end up running the 50k in the complete downpour and freezing rain. I was proud of the accomplishment but I was happy to put my running shoes up for a bit. The fire still wasn’t there. I liked it, but mostly for the connections it gave me.
In the spring of 2015, my world was turned upside down. I was kicked by a friend’s horse, at the beginning of a training ride, shattering my elbow. The fear consumed me, my thoughts of the grey horse barrelling towards me wouldn’t leave my mind, and my body so run down physically and mentally from three surgeries. The magic that saved me was my family and running. First, my husband, an absolute saint and someone who has the innate ability to lift you up out of any mood. He is truly my life, my rock and my dearest best friend. My boys are just like their dad, compassionate, always wanting to hold my hand through it all. The one thing I was allowed to do, as long as I promised my surgeon I wouldn’t fall, was running. It was like a light was switched on. Like something I was also born to do. I’ve heard people say they don’t love running, heck I used to say it. But I can now say, with my whole being, “I love running!” I love the feeling in my lungs as I climb a big hill, the wind blowing my hair as I coast down my favorite trail, or smiling over at my husband after we’ve tackled a tough section of terrain. Running has given me hope again, it has made me grow in ways that I can’t even put into words. Like I found my way home after being lost. I wish I could tell my twelve year old self what running means to me now, how empowered I am from it. How much it has shaped my life to who I am today. I’d like to think she’d be pretty proud and grateful to where her feet have taken her and for the ‘love’ she has found in running.
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