More precisely, I’m going to try it. I signed up for my first 10k race this Sunday! It’s the We Run Paris race and—not gonna lie—I’m getting kind of nervous. I actually have butterflies as I’m thinking about and writing this. Will I finish? Will I finish fast? Will I pee myself?
I’m not historically a runner. When I was little, I was escargot-slow with zero lung capacity. To be expected from a bookworm whose parents never let her outside. In New York, I occasionally jogged to Central Park and around the reservoir a few times. But I viewed running as punishment for whatever I indulged in that week or month, a torturous way to lose love handles.
My older sister is an ultra runner, which means she runs for 50 miles. Not kilometers. Miles. Who does that? Crazy people, that’s who. She used to hate running even more than I did, but now takes leisurely three-hour runs at the crack of dawn and does triathlons for “fun.” Like I said, crazy. But if long-simmering sibling rivalry isn’t motivation to get off my flat ass, then I don’t know what is. (Kidding. She’s been an inspiration.)
Sometime in June, after dithering for months, I went on my first run in years. It was as miserable as I remembered, but there must have been some satisfaction because I kept running throughout the summer—even on our Greek holiday.
Along the way, I started figuring out how to do long distances (very slowly) and found the courage to sign up for this race. Running has changed for me and, as with most things, I’m pointing to age as the culprit. When I was younger, my thoughts while running were, When can I stop? This is the worst. How much longer? Ouch! My side hurts.
Christ, what a baby.
At this point in life, I’ve endured plenty of pain: shingles, a broken leg, two labors, meningitis, a regrettable tramp stamp, the Paris Préfecture. The discomfort and twingy knees of running just doesn’t compare to a 4.8 kilo (10.6 lbs!) butterball making his way out of your hoo-ha.
Maybe time does pass more quickly as you get older because I can run for half an hour and it feels like fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes, meanwhile, feels like five. When you’re running for an hour or more, this is a serious Jedi mind trick. I fully appreciate the meditative quality of running now. I don’t run with music or other people (usually) so I’m accompanied by my scattershot thoughts and heavy breathing. Somewhere around mile 4, everything settles into an easier rhythm and I start thinking, I can do anything! I can run a marathon! I can write a novel! I can lose this poochy belly! (A woman can dream…)
Dream or not, there’s something to the simple joy of moving your two legs forward that feels like freedom. Maybe that’s why all kids love to run and maybe that sensation of possibility is what we adult runners are trying to recapture.
So I don’t have advice here beyond: Wait until you’re 40 to really enjoy running—unless you’re one of those freaky fast kids who always got picked first for the relay race.
Wish me luck!