I’m not a runner. I’ve always said that for as long as I can remember. In elementary school P.E., we ran laps around the huge field behind the school. Four laps equaled one mile, and I never could do it without stopping and walking. A mile seemed like such a huge distance back then and going around four times took forever. Of course now when I see the field, I’m shocked at how small it looks. Ah, perspective. My Dad used to be a runner. I remember going to races, and watching for him to cross the finish line. His knees eventually gave out and he quit running for good. It’s hilly around here, and all the downhills were too much for him. When my Dad moved on to cycling for good as his sport of choice, I mentally X’d myself out of the running category. My Dad also has some structural issues with his knees, structural issues I’ve inherited, structural issues I exacerbated when I hiked 18 miles in one day on horse trails while on a backpacking trip in Montana. What I learned from that trip: Never ever hike on horse trails. Horses move their feet in a straight line, humans do not. You will eventually recover from the trauma, but your knees never will.
So like I was saying, I’m not a runner. Yet, I’ve started running. Last Spring my bookclub read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I wasn’t all that interested in a book about running, but I love a good non-fiction book and am game for anything. I was kind of shocked by how much I enjoyed it. It’s not the best writing, nor the best story, but there were interesting parts all throughout the book. Suddenly I wanted to run. Me run? But, I’m not a runner. The thing about the book though, is that it makes you think you can be a runner and more importantly it makes you want to be a runner. Anyone can be a runner. Suddenly your whole mindset has shifted, and all it took was reading a book you weren’t all that interested in to begin with.
Only one other book has made me think about myself in an entirely different way, and want to do something I never thought was possible – Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. Originally I read this book because Naomi Wolf mentioned in Misconceptions that Ina May knew all sorts of cures for morning sickness. My mother had nine months of morning sickness in both her pregnancies, and I feared that would be my lot as well when the time came. There wasn’t much in Spiritual Midwifery about these cures, but I did find a book full of amazing stories of women giving birth without pain medication, enjoying it, and being transformed by it. I was blown away. None of these stories matched anything I had heard about childbirth, and suddenly I knew I wanted to be one of these women, that I was going to be one of these women. The more I read, the more I realized any woman could be like these women. Three years, then six years later, it happened. It was like as soon as I made that decision, that was who I was, and I made sure in every possible way I could control that I was one of these women. It was like there wasn’t an alternative in my brain anymore, and somehow it got that way in an instant simply by storytelling.
Running might be harder than childbirth (those damn knees!), but I’m doing it. I’m going slow and gradually progressing over the next two month from not running period to running 3 miles. On May 5th, I’m running in a 5k race in Austin with my girlfriends and I’m looking forward to it almost more than anything else I’ve done in my life. After that who knows, but I do know I’m a runner and there will be more running.