Well. When I started this running-grandma blog, there was one grand; now there are two, two precious girls.
I am 54 now, still running.
Recently, in a meeting not related to running, a leader suggested we all consider the “whys” of what we do. That is, we were encouraged to remember the reasons we started a certain practice, review the reasons, see if they were the same, modified or needed to be completely rehauled.
So I’m asking myself, “Why do I run?”
When I started running, around age 32, I was concerned about my appearance. I simply wanted to lose weight. Slow and self-conscious, it took me years to say, “I’m a runner” because I couldn’t justify my form and speed.
In the mid-1990s, in a long season of depression, I ran because I found that vigorously pounding the pavement left me feeling … that’s it–left me actually feeling, no longer numb. I believe the exhaustion and the sun helped heal me. What a gift running was!
Throughout the years, I ran to prove something to myself and probably to other people. For instance, I have been proud to note that the little girl who hated phys ed and did not excel at athletics is now active daily and pretty fit, while many of my peers stopped moving long ago. Occasionally, I see my old gym teacher in public. He doesn’t remember me, but I remember him and his less than supportive comments. I’ve been tempted to approach him and tell him about the irony of my running, but that’s silly. It’s enough that I know what I know. I know what I’m capable of, and that makes me smile.
I also ran to meet tangible goals: distance, time, new routes, 5ks, halfs. I never ran to get faster. I just kept plodding along. I was competing against myself for the feeling of achievement, not winning.
I ran for the euphoria of a good run and for the pride of enduring when it was awful. There were years I ran faithfully, years I ran fitfully. But I never stopped, never gave it up.
So, have my reasons changed? There’s still a part of each that I mentioned above in why I continue. Right now I’m training for my 3rd or 4th Indy Mini. I just bought new shoes, and I’m in a really happy place: I’m fit, my weight is healthy, I feel good about being able to do what I do at my age, I still enjoy the euphoria and even the occasional disappointment. And I have no qualms calling myself a runner–simply because I run. It’s what I do, part of who I am.
However, there is one reason I run that is fairly new. Last week, we were playing with our 4-year-old granddaughter in the yard. She wanted to “run races.” Just like that, I was transported back to my childhood, when the neighborhood kids and I ran races all the time! Our granddaughter and we ran several races, changing our “teams,” changing the route (like around the house!) When each race finished, she grabbed us around our knees, squeezed her eyes shut tightly and hugged with all her might. We jumped, we cheered, we panted, we raced again!
She doesn’t know we’re old. Well, she knows we’re older than she is, yes. But I asked her once to guess my age, and she said, “five.” So she thinks we can run just like she can, run like the wind. I do not want to disappoint her. I want to run and play with her as long as I physically can.
And now there are two. The second girl is not yet crawling, but soon she’ll be on the move, and one day, she’ll say, “Let’s go! Let’s run!” and I intend to do just that. I’ve always said, “I want to be the reading, baking, rocking, running grandma.” I hope our girls will always remember the joy we shared in the times we grabbed each others’ hands and ran through the spring grass like we were young, all of us.