with a little help from my friends

“Running is not about vanity, it is about being part of a community and being good to oneself.” Or so says Andre’ Picard, in his article about the sensationalizing of marathon-related deaths.

A couple months ago, which weirdly seems like a lifetime ago, I did the Yazoo Barely a 4k Beer Run with Summer and Anna. Actually, the exact date was February 11, 2012. I’m pretty sure this was Summer’s idea. We ran just over two miles in the snow. Quite strange for Memphis and certainly my first time running in snow. We had a blast, were rewarded with free-flowing beer at the Young Avenue Deli, and that little run gave me the feeling that I could do anything. Or maybe that was the beer. So when Summer [strongly] suggested I join Star Runners to train for a sprint triathlon, I said yes. And then I freaked out all weekend long. I took turns telling myself I could and couldn’t do it. Terror and bravado alternated in my veins as I got myself psyched up to pay my fees, join a new gym, and swim my very first lap.

In the six months preceding the beer run, I had almost made it through a Couch to 5k program twice, only to hurt my knee or just peter out of motivation. I was getting to the gym maybe three times a week. My work-outs were lackluster at best. I had promised myself I would do the St. Jude half-marathon last year and just didn’t get it up. I had nothing to train for, nothing to motivate me except that I didn’t want to buy new pants. And I think I’ve finally learned that, for me, aesthetics aren’t enough.

My best stretches of physical fitness were in undergrad and then right around my 30th birthday. My motivation was everything to do with stress relief, and nothing to do with impending swimsuit season. I took yoga classes several times per week in college and loved it. But then I graduated and never made it back to class. Right before turning 30 I discovered I could read on an elliptical machine. Two-months, several Harry Potter books, a tough diet, and 20 pounds later I was running pretty regularly, as well. Not sure really how that transpired. I hated running, or so I believed, and spontaneously challenged myself to do it anyway. I worked up to running between four and five miles a few times per week, but it didn’t last. A couple stressful jobs and more than a couple stress-related pounds squelched any success I’d had with running.

What’s the point I’m making here as I reminisce over past ups and downs of sloth v. action? Oh yes. There are two differences this time. The goal and the group. The group and the goal. I started with one friend in the training group and now have three, and counting. Two other friends outside the group have decided to do the MIM sprint since I signed up. Those of us in the group have a coach who is on our asses to make sure we do assigned workouts and train as precisely as possible, for the best race possible. I truly believe that my prep work is leading me to a performance I will be proud of. And I know I keep saying it, but the perks along the way don’t stop.

I just feel–good. And I am thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie of my “community.” I’m starting to get it now, what Picard said. Sweating and grunting doesn’t sound like a great way to bond. But with each stroke, step, spin we’re fighting to be healthy. Better than we were. The process is the reward. As is the beer afterward 🙂

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