I love running. It is part of my existence. Part of what makes me who I am. It is the main thing that I do for myself and by myself. (Yeah yeah, it makes me a better person for youandyouandyou but I know damn well that running is a selfish interest.) But I am very (proudly and boastfully) guilty of putting my running schedule on the back burner. And there are many days when I know I'm not pushing myself to my utmost challenging fullest ability and I am glad for that too. For awhile, I felt guilty about ditching a run here and there or hanging back in a race when I knew I could've pushed harder and had a better finish time. These days, I don't regret it one bit.
I will not cry for knowing I didn't finish a marathon a few seconds faster because I had to slow down and take in the beauty surrounding me on the race course. A sunrise, a mountain, a fellow runner's tearful determined perseverance, a child cheering at the top of her lungs for her daddy.
I will not be disappointed because I cut my long run short to pick my son up after his guitar lesson. Arriving in time to hear him pluck out "Amazing Grace" while my hair dripped with sweat brings more health to my heart than an extra five miles.
I won't regret changing my training schedule and only running 4.37 miles (instead of my scheduled nine)to the little league baseball field to watch my middle child's team win. I won't ever miss those miles as much as I will someday miss seeing my twelve year old boy jump for joy after a hard earned victory.
When I am older, I will not remember that I didn't run enough this week. I will fondly recall the time and effort and fun that I poured into my youngest son's performance in his school's variety show. I will forget that I missed my tempo run but I will remember the excitement and pride in his eyes and in the eyes of his friends when they took to the stage and gave it their all.
The moment my oldest son's eyes met mine after an exhausting victorious fight at his very first high school wrestling match is something that only happens once. There will be plenty of other opportunities for an interval run.
The day I stood outside after work encouraging and consoling a co-worker and the words spoken between us go further in both of our hearts than that ten miles I intended to run. I am no less of a runner for only having time to run six on that day.
I will not regret those few mornings when I was too hung-over to think about lacing and suiting up. The nights that these mornings followed are all to rare and too much fun to miss.
So when you hard core runners ask me how bad I want it, well, I'll be honest. That all depends on what "it" is up against.
I will always make running a priority. But the moments that I live for and the experiences that make life worth living will always be the ones that make running something that I can live without. If you know what loneliness and sorrow feel like, then you know that joy and kinship are precious and savory. Live in the joy and savor every moment and you won't even care if you forgot about the run.
If I never qualify for Boston because I spent too much time watching my children grow from sweet young boys into strong humble men, I can live with that.
If I don't gain a single other Marathon Maniac Star because I would rather take a vacation with my family than invest in back-to-back marathons, I will consider myself blessed.
If I never train for an ultra marathon because I find myself too busy enjoying hot coffee in my warm bed while wrapped in my husband's arms, then so be it. I would rather lose those miles than have missed those mornings.
I hope that even the hardest of hard core runners can see where I am coming from. I love to run, but there are some things that I simply love more. So don't kick yourself for missing a few miles here and there if those miles were replaced by precious moments and priceless memories. There will always be time to run.