Friday, May 22, 2009

I Feel Like I'm in High School

In high school, I lived and breathed running. I gave up social events, soda, sweets... anything to help me run a few seconds faster. I won a lot of races and broke a few school records, but most importantly, I loved the sport. It only seemed natural that I'd run competitively in college.

After being courted by various colleges and universities that waved thousands of dollars at me, I chose to attend and walk onto Central Michigan University's Track and Cross-Country team. I loved Central -- and always had -- and was thrilled when I was invited to join the Division 1 MAC Championship team. Though I wouldn't receive any monetary assistance, I was guaranteed a spot on the roster. I was confident that, with hard work and persistence, I'd rise to the level of competition and eventually become a scholarship athlete, competing alongside some of the fastest runners in the nation.

I remained focused throughout my first season on the Cross-County team. Though I wore a red shirt, I worked hard and ran some solid races. It's hard to put into words what happened after that. Maybe it was the distraction of parties and boys, or the frustration that came after falling ill and missing the first two important weeks of Track season, or seeing others my age excel faster. In any case, I did something after my freshman year of college I never had done before -- I quit.

Not knowing what to do with myself, I signed up to run a marathon. It was a small race in the suburbs of Detroit, Mich., and I trained and ran the ENTIRE race by myself. I did pretty well. But after and without a goal or reason to train, I felt little motivation to run. As a result, I've sprinkled casual runs into a mostly mundane routine of 45- to 60-minute sessions on the elliptical machine. Deep down, I knew running would always be there for me when I needed it. So here I am.

Though marathon training hasn't officially started, I'm officially in pre-official training mode, which means up and atom for an eight-miler in the morning. It will be the furthest I've run since running 26.2 miles more than four years ago. So here I am, a Friday night and staying in, while most I know are out at the bar, realizing that this is the first of many Fridays when I'll feel like a high-schooler again: anticipating and excited, yet a bit nervous, for tomorrow's run.

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