When my twin grandchildren were first born, my son and daughter-in-law worried that they would never get past the constant care and feeding of the babies, the lack of sleep, and just the general chaos. I told them that, from my experience as a parent, the days were long but the years were short.
I was reflecting on this as I started to close the books on 2006. This is the end of my 15th year as a runner. 15 years! I can remember when I first started running I would hear people talk about running for 10 or 15 years and I didn’t think it was possible. I was struggling to get in 3 days a week. How could anyone run consistently for 15 years?
Well, as it turns out, it’s a lot like the babies. The days are long, but the years are short.
In my early years as a runner I could remember nearly every run. If you had asked me I could have described in detail almost every run I had ever taken. And if I didn’t remember I could always look it up in my logbook.
In my early years I could have described in graphic detail the preparation for, and participation in, every race I had ever done. From a local 5K to a ½ Ironman triathlon, I knew what I had done to get ready, what equipment I used, what I wore, what I ate and drank, how much sleep I got – or didn’t get – and how I had done in the event.
Now, after 15 years, I’ve lost count of the number of marathons I’ve run.
I have run at least 1,000 miles a year for each of those 15 years. That’s 15,000 miles. 15,000 MILES! That’s like running from New York to Los Angles 6 times. Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would run 15,000 miles. Not when I could barely make it one mile.
But the days do add up. And the miles add up. And suddenly you are something or someone you never expected to be. You are a runner.
There have been great days and great miles. There have been horrible days and awful miles. There have been moments of absolute euphoria and times of bitter disappointment.
There have been days when I can’t wait to run. There have been days when I can’t believe I have to run. And there have been days when I have simply refused to run.
I’ve run along a beach in the morning. I’ve run on city streets at night. I’ve run when it was so hot I could barely move. I’ve run when it was so cold that I had to keep moving or I would freeze. I’ve been soaked to the skin. I’ve shaken snow off my head.
I’ve had runs that seemed interminable. I’ve had runs where I’ve thought that if I could just collapse that I would at least get a ride back to the finish line. I’ve had those races where you’re convinced someone is moving the mile markers because you’re SURE you’ve gone more than a mile.
But even the longest runs end. Even the worst runs are over eventually. So are the great runs. Good or bad, long or short, they have one thing in common. At some point, they all end.
As a runner, all you can do is do it again. And again and again. With one step you can become a runner. But one year, one month, one week, one day, one step at a time you stay a runner.
If you’re lucky, like I am, one day you wake up and 15 years have gone by right underneath your feet.
Waddle on, friends.