Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ending a Relationship; breaking up with running

(Note, this post may be best enjoyed by playing The Manhattans in the background.)
I have been in a relationship with running for more than 15 years. Despite recently breaking it off, I can't help give one last, furtive, look back.
With Darren. I'm 2nd from left.
I started dating running when I was finishing college. It was casual - we barely were making it to 1st base (take that how you will). Things got a hot and heavy the summer of '95, when I added more miles and developed a regular training plan.
In 1996, running and I took things to the next level. I ran my first marathon and basked in the glow of love requited. In 1998, we affirmed our commitment with a second marathon.
After Chicago marathon '98
I kept spending time with running after I tore my knee skiing, the winter of 99/00. It was wrong. I wasn't ready but it made me happy.
Running was there for me when I moved to England and would have gained 15 pounds from eating cookies (they were in every meeting!). And, it was there for me when I got divorced, initially serving as a shoulder to cry and then, temporarily, becoming a crutch I relied on (which led to my 3rd and final marathon in 2007).
Post NYC 2007
My love for running knows no limits. When I can't do it, I dream about it and sigh with longing when I see people running on the street. No matter how much it has hurt me, I keep going back to it because so much about it is wonderful and pure and makes me feel good about myself.
Running doesn't mind if I try other sports. "Go ahead, cycle!" running laughs. "It won't make your heart race like I do." About yoga, running snorts at the lack of commitment. "You're not going anywhere," running comments. "Standing on a mat is not what I would call 'taking the next step.'" It's right, of course.
Me & Nathan. Baltimore
Running is willing to share me with other loves. My boyfriend and I ran together in New Zealand. My brother and I ran/walked a half marathon together in Baltimore. And I happily share running with everyone - I invite others to get to know running and even blog about what to wear to ensure the relationship grows.
But it's over. A year ago I told myself I had to stop. At first I said I would quit stepping out with running by my birthday but quickly I pushed back our break-up date to the end of the year. I thought about going out big - maybe one last marathon or even an Ultra. But running reminded me of why it had to go by hurting me again and again. First Achilles tendonitis, then issues with my piriformis muscle and, always, the aching knees. So, I let it slip away. We didn't go out with a bang or acrimony. We spent some quality time together over the winter break and then, on new year's eve, I laced up my shoes one last time and, as I wrapped up that last mile, said to myself and running, "Let's just kiss and say goodbye."
I'm gonna miss you.