Running saved my life. Before you ask, no, I don't have cancer. I don't suffer from depression. I don't have high cholesterol or diabetes. I didn't go through a messy divorce (or any divorce for that matter). I didn't lose my job, or get passed over for a promotion. I haven't lost a loved one.
I know that running has gotten many a suffering man or woman through any of the situations mentioned above. But that's not what it did for me. This is what it has done:
Running gave me something of my own. Separate from my children, from my marriage, from my job. When I first started running, I felt like it was a gift just for me. I kept the fact that I was a runner a carefully guarded secret for a long time because I didn't want anyone to invade the solitude I found, the uniqueness I felt, the welcome separateness from a world full of obligations and responsibilities. When I slipped on my running shoes, the world slipped slightly off my shoulders. When I pulled on my tech shirt, the tug of the world felt a little lighter on my apron strings.
Running has seen me through some of the most emotional times of my life thus far. When I started running I had just become the mother of three. One year and nine days later... the mother of 4. Fourteen months after that... the mother of 5. Running has given me an outlet in good times and bad. I have laughed and cried along the same old trail. I have run toward and run away in the same training run. I was out running the day I got the phone call informing me that we would be able to adopt our third child. The day that adoption finalized, after the court hearing, after the brunch, after all the guests had left, so full of joy I could cry, we went running.
In times of plenty, running has given me challenge. In times of want, running has given me gratitude. It has given me a constant in times of chaos. It has taught me to celebrate finish lines both on and off the trail. When the bills are piling up, when the insurance and the mortgage are due on the same day, when we've run out of diapers, formula, bread, and almond milk all at once, running is still free. Training miles cost nothing. Kicking a ball with your kid is priceless. My kids might not have the best that money can buy, but they know the value of moving, running, playing. They know that personal victory isn't something you can buy.
In the last month I have watched my 6 year old daughter put everything she had into a 33 minute 5K PR. I have watched my one year old baby take her first steps. I watched my oldest son walk away from me on the first day of kindergarten. I have watched summer fade to fall. I have been given difficult news, and am facing decisions beyond my ability to decide. I have sat at a distance and watched my husband fight his way into owning his own business. I have held hands and kissed boo-boos. I have been thrown up on. I have driven countless miles. I have jumped up and down on the sidelines of the soccer filed.
I have been a mother, a friend, a wife, a sister, a cheerleader. But somewhere out alone on the trail, I am just a runner... and THAT my friends, has saved my life.