I didn’t really think anything of it until March rolled around again, and we were all back home for the run. My eldest sister and I were the only runners (I’m using that term loosely) in our family, so we lined ourselves up with the 10-minute milers and started trucking. My sister had a wristwatch to monitor our pace, and after what felt like a while, I asked her how long it had been. She said 22 minutes, and I remember doing a double-take. Twenty-two minutes? In a row? Me? I was so proud of myself (even though we stopped shortly after to slow down to a brisk walk). We finished the race in just over 46 minutes (not a particularly good time, but I’ll take it), and I realized that I could be a runner. I just needed to push myself to be one.
I can’t lie and say the Shamrock Run changed my life, that now I’m an avid runner, training for the Boston marathon. But when the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge came to Boston in June, I was pumped up and ready for those 3.5 miles. I made myself run the entire time, and by the end, I felt every inch. But the real victory was the next day. See, after the Shamrock Run, I woke up the next morning with tight calves and sore shoulders. Two days following the run (the second day is always the worst for me), I could barely move without pain shooting through some part of my body. Between March and June, I had dusted off my running shoes and spent more time on the treadmill, so the day after the Corporate Challenge, I was in tip-top shape. In fact, two days after, I went for another run! Halfway through that run (which I had dragged my boyfriend on with me), I had the realization that I wasn’t feeling any pain, and all but shouted to my guy about how not-sore I was.
I’ll be the first to admit that I still struggle with it from time to time. Some days I don’t feel like doing anything. On those days, the stationary bike is my best friend. Most of the time, I have to push myself to get on the treadmill. But once I’m on, my nerves are gone. I’m finding it’s more of a mental battle I face as a runner, but knowing that I actually can run for more than 20 consecutive minutes is what pushes me through that early workout slump.
These days, when I see runners around my neighborhood, I look at them with awe, instead of disdain. I wouldn’t call myself a “runner” yet (and who knows if I’ll live up to that admirable label), but I’m getting there. And I’m realizing that while the journey is half the fun, nothing beats the feeling you have when you cross the finish line. —Brigid McCarthy