Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Starting Line

I do not love running.

Running is hard.  It’s repetitive.  Put one foot in front of the other, over and over, and do it fast, and you are running.  Wise people have said to me, “I only run when chased.”

I see their point.

Running has hurt me, injured me, and swallowed up enormous chunks of my life.  It has left me temporarily crippled, hobbling around like an old lady, for days.  It led me thisclose to breaking my femur.  Even on the good days, running requires sweat, huffing and puffing, and endless loads of laundry.  Running is a sport for the stubborn, maybe even the stupid.

I am a runner.

I’ve been running on and off for ten years now.  My running career started in college when I decided that I wanted to run cross-country.  I went to a teeny-tiny school where the cross-country team welcomed runners of all levels.  It was a tremendous gift, joining a group of passionate runners who showed up, ready to run, every single day.  We all knew what a gift it was to have running friends, and we cherished those sun-dappled autumn days, running through, in, and around Albion, Michigan.  I miss those days.

In the years after I graduated from college, my running days became more sporadic.  I still fancied myself a runner, but my runs were short.  After finishing an undergraduate degree in chemistry and neuroscience, I moved to the Chicago area—Evanston, specifically—and started a PhD program in neuroscience at Northwestern University.  To state the obvious, grad school was tough.  Running was no longer a priority, and life in the city made it easy to stay fit by walking everywhere—to the grocery store, to campus, to the train station.  At some point in grad school, I learned I had lost twenty-something pounds compared to my weight in college.  I miss those pounds.

And at some point, I decided that I missed running too.  I missed the seriousness that accompanies training for a big event—a 5K race, a ten-mile fun run.  While in grad school, I set my sights on something even bigger: a half-marathon.  At 13.1 miles, a half-marathon was just a few miles longer than my longest run at that time, a ten-miler.  The half felt like an attainable goal, and it was: I came in at just over two hours.  I am so proud of that accomplishment.

Goals are really great.  It’s great to have them, and it’s great to achieve them.  But I think true happiness comes from enjoying the process that must unfold between setting a goal and reaching it.  So I ask myself, Why do I run?  Because it’s not like I’m racing every weekend or even every month.  Nor do I crave that intensity in my athletic life right now.  I have a full-time job that keeps me running around most days.  I want to have enough energy for my job, my running, and maybe a night out with friends every week or two.  And given the fact that running is messy, time-consuming, and exhausting, I ask myself again, Why do I run?

Because it feels like flying.

I run because there’s nothing else like it.  The simplicity of it, the challenge, the fact that it welcomes all who wish to participate.  Running is a beautiful sport.  It can be a social event or a chance to bask in one’s own company.  It can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it.  Turtles and speed-demons can run in the same races, and the demons can cheer on the turtles when they finally cross the finish line.

I run because it rewards my dedication and discipline.  It’s predictable that way, and yet you can still surprise yourself by running faster and harder than you thought possible.  Life doesn’t always reward loyalty, but running does.  I like that.

This blog is my journal about running and other adventures—biking, swimming, and eating.  I want to be more deliberate in recording my work-outs and reflecting on how I am doing.  I’m a scientist and a writer, and I believe in the power of data and observations.  I love the idea of keeping a record of my athletic pursuits.  This blog is a selfish endeavor on my part, meaning that I’m writing it first and foremost for myself.  Almost three years of writing a food blog have taught me that we must write for ourselves—writing is its own reward.  I believe in writing.  But I also know that I have found tremendous inspiration from other people who have opened their computers and lives to the world through their blogs, and I like the idea of having something to share with others.  You never know who might find you and find inspiration in what you are doing.

Before I go, I ought to tell you a little about myself.  My name is Rose-Anne, and I’m 28 years old.  I live in College Station, Texas, and I am a research scientist at Texas A & M Health Science Center.  I’m a long-time vegetarian and lover of nature.  I’m a single woman, and I’ve been dating the same guy for close to three years.  Matt is not a runner, but he is my biggest cheerleader.

I’m a recent transplant to Texas.  I finished my PhD work in September 2009 and moved down here for my new job in October 2009.  My friends and family live in the North, mostly in Chicago and Michigan.  Though I miss them all terribly, I’ve been pretty happy in Texas.  I don’t know how long I’ll be down here, so I’m enjoying it while I can.  In March 2010, I ran a half-marathon here, the 4th Annual Armadillo Dash.  I can’t wait to do it again next year.

And with that, we’re off and running!


  1. When I wrote "this gal doesn't run, not even when chased" I had no idea you wrote "I only run when I'm chased" in your first paragraph. I think this turtle is going to have fun here.

  2. Laurie, you crack me up! I couldn't believe you wrote that--talk about the continuing coincidences. Fun! And hey, I'm a turtle too--I love long slow walks and easy exercise. This blog is a way of balancing the challenging stuff with the stuff I love to do anyway.