Ever since I laced up my first pair of running shoes in the summer of 2009 and hit the trails of the Wissahickon Park in Philadelphia, I've had a reason to run.
At first, I ran to be a better, more sane human being. I ran from grief after my little brother passed away. I ran from the deep depression that soon followed. I ran from crappy exes and from subsequent broken hearts. While running from my problems, I used my pain to help me train for and run my first half marathon in 2009 (Philadelphia Half Marathon), and then my first full in 2010 (Philadelphia Marathon).
After my first marathon, I took some time off to take it all in. I started a new relationship (with my now-fiancé) which healed every broken piece of my soul, and I was happy. And I did not run for an entire year.
Me and Josh, on one of our first dates
After a year away from running, I began to feel like something was missing. I craved the extreme highs and the intense lows that I had only experienced while distance running. So I signed up to run the 2012 New Jersey Marathon with Team in Training and dove headfirst back into marathon training. Being on the "team", as TNT'ers often abbreviate, allowed me to be a part of a larger running community that worked towards the same goal. This time around, I ran for a cause. I ran for those who couldn't, and I ran because I wanted to make a difference. I ran for the Team.
Training with TNT
During the fall of 2012, I ran for myself. I signed up for two more marathons in the fall of 2012 (Marine Corps and Philly) and ended up setting personal records in both. I followed a strict training schedule and pushed myself to my physical limits. I ran to feel the euphoria of smashing my goals and to intensify the happiness in my life. I ran because I loved to run.
Marine Corps Marathon, 2012
Yet something still fell flat as I crossed the finish line of my last road marathon. So I went back to basics and turned to the trails where it all began. During my 50k training in early 2013, I felt my soul crack open wide and absorb the natural world, filling the void I felt during road runs. I ran to be a part of something bigger than myself, and trail running allowed me to observe nature while simultaneously participating in it. I ran because I felt like my truest self while running in the woods.
Delaware Trail Marathon, 2013
Which brings me to where I am today. While training for my first 50 miler, I am still running for a reason. I run because I cannot imagine my life without running. This amazing, albeit sometimes insane, sport has brought me more satisfaction in life than I could have ever imagined. Running is the reason I started this blog, through which I have reached and met some truly amazing people. It is also the reason I continuously strive to improve myself, both physically and mentally.
This year, running has also brought me to the Oiselle team, a group of strong, confident, and powerful women, all moving towards individual goals and supporting each other along the way. As a member of the Oiselle "volée" team (in French, Oiselle means bird, and volée is a feminine form of the verb "to fly"), I will represent a brand I support whole-heartedly. Not only does Oiselle make amazing clothes (their Roga shorts are pretty much the only running shorts I wear these days), but they are also focused on empowering female athletes and inspiring women to be the best they can be, in running and in life. Take a look at the Oiselle Team manifesto, and you'll see why I was so delighted to be accepted as a member of this amazing group of women, and to represent Oiselle at my upcoming races.
I look forward to the upcoming race year and all the new reasons it will bring for me to run. If this year is anything like the past five, I know it will bring highs, lows, and all emotions in between. But this year, if I'm lucky enough, I'm hoping that running will feel a little something like flying.