Like a Dancer – Keeping the Joy in Your Training
I hate running. Well, not anymore of course but if you asked me at 15 if I ran that was the answer, along with “running without a ball at my foot is pointless.” Running was a chore, a necessary evil at best and pure torture at worst. I was, I am, a soccer player. In my home state of Pennsylvania, there were no rules about non-interscholastic competition and so I played on as many teams as possible. It’s all I wanted to do and all I did for 20 years of my life. Running kept me in shape, nothing more. There is a t-shirt that local cross country runners wear that says “my sport is your sport’s punishment” and as a kid I could relate. Mia Hamm was my idol, I even rubber cemented a two page Nike ad featuring her with a poem called Like a Dancer on my bedroom wall. It embodied everything I felt about the sport with which I was crazy in love. My transition to running started at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. I found myself 15 hours from home and living the dream I had worked so hard for, to play for a division one soccer team. But I was unhappy, hated it, told my coach I wanted to quit. The sport that I had allowed to define me was simply no longer fun. Looking back on it now, it was a clear case of burnout but at the time I was lost. So, I started to run. To stay in shape at first, then to clear my head, then to see how far I could go. That was 17 years ago.
Each of you has a story, a reason that you are reading a blog on a half marathon website right now. You made a decision at some point to start moving forward, one foot and then the other. You may have been an athlete since you started walking. Or you may just now be finding your inner athlete and letting her out! We are here to celebrate you with each and every step along the way. There are many aspects of the Capital City Half and Quarter Marathon that make it unique and special, including our awesome post race party. I absolutely LOVE the concept of a quarter marathon, it makes endurance running reachable in tangible steps. We make a big deal out of the 5k, quarter, and half marathons because they ARE a big deal. If Cap City will be your first time at these distances, each week will be a new challenge and opportunity for success. As you train for each of these races on May 4th, you will find yourself going further than you ever have before and that is truly amazing. Your body and mind are changing with each new distance and you are moving swiftly toward that celebration in May.
Working with all of you is an honor and I thank you for the opportunity. I have had many blessings as an athlete, but the most humbling and proudest day of my running career was at Cap City last year. I watched each and every one of you cross the half marathon finish line, all the way through to the Balloon Sisters. Remember, you will never be the last one through a finish line at our races. You are truly the reason that we do what we do. Celebrate you is not simply a slogan, it is the way we do things. You do the hard work though, staying on top of your training and making sure you put in the effort out on the roads in the months leading up to the race. All I ask is that you keep it fun. Learn from my childish mistake and keep the joy in the sport that you choose! I say choose and not have chosen, because every day you get to make that choice. Believe in yourself and remember to stop and pat yourself on the back or shout it to the world when you hit that “mileage PR” each week. This is your journey and the joy is in the movement. The race is the icing and of course the celebration toast downtown!
I cannot wait to see you all on May 4th as you cross that finish line, with your arms in the air! You just might find me there, dancing after all.
In case you wondered, here’s that Mia Hamm poem. I think it applies to running as well. Thanks to blogger Stacy Hall at http://staceymariehall.blogspot.com/2011/04/thoughts-on-check-in-check-out.html for sharing her copy of the ad, since mine is long peeled from that bedroom wall. I’m not really sure that Mia Hamm actually wrote this, but I cannot find who else did so I’m going with it (unless it was a Nike copywriter).
When you were a child your mother thought,
As mothers sometimes do,
That you were strong enough
And sure enough
To someday be a dancer.But when you were five
Or was it six or was it nine
You didn’t want to dance,
You couldn’t bear to dance
Unless you were dancing in the grass,
And dancing in the mud
As children often do
As children often do.And then your father kicked you a ball.
And the ball was the shape of the whole wide world to you. And now if you see green you can only think of one thing to do. And the world slips away from your feet. And the sky slips down into your arms.
To be who you want.
To go where you can.