Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two feet and a heartbeat, the story of why I run

Sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee (or two)

When I was a kid I had re-occurring dreams that I was running.  I would be able to run forever without ever running out of breath or getting sore muscles.  These were my favourite dreams.  I always relished the nights I would dream about running endlessly.

Then there's my father.  My father has been running every single day since my little brother was born.  Some 29 years ago (my little brother isn't so little any more).  I remember him getting his run in when there was 3 feet of snow on the ground.  I remember him running through a broken shoulder after he totaled the family station wagon (not to mention all sorts of other injuries and illnesses he ran through).  I remember him running at 11pm in downtown Washington D.C. on a family summer vacation road trip.  I remember my siblings and I following him on his long runs with our bikes in the summer (and WE would get tired).  I remember him running from our house to our grandparents house a couple cities over while we drove out for Sunday dinner. I remember his stacks of notepads where he would record his mileage year after year.  Sure now-a-days he just jogs around the block with the dogs but for the entire duration of my childhood his running was a staple in my daily routine.  I grew up with that influence and I'd be stupid to not admit the effect it had on me.

When I was in my early teens I decided to put my dreams to the test.  I was too embarrassed to run in the daylight so I would run around the block at night after dark during the summertime.  I tried it a few times and determined that it was just too hard for me and subsequently I gave up.

More years went by and more running dreams.  Finally, when I was in college and living on my own I got a pair of runners and hit it.  I felt awful in the beginning, barely making it down the street and back without stopping a bunch of times.  It was only about 1km.  But this time I kept with it and eventually I made it to the end of the street and back without stopping.  Eventually I would go further and further.  But it never lasted long as I let college and life get in the way.

Taiwan mountain race (not the 5k)
I was an on and off runner for the next several years.  When I was in Taiwan I picked it up again because I had a few teacher friends who were big into running.  We all trained for this half marathon in Taipei - it was supposed to be my first.  However, due to the communication barrier we didn't find out until we got there to pick up our packets that we actually missed the entrance cut off for the half and had been downgraded to a 5k. I remember begging and pleading.  We even tried bribing with MORE money but those Taiwanese people are strict! 

Then in 2007 I committed to a half again.  However this time I got injured.  I used to run with my dog (he's really stupid, no joke) and we had an accident where he darted from my side and I tripped over him badly spraining my ankle 2 months before the half. I was out and injured for many months.

FINALLY in 2008 I ran my first half-marathon.  I was beginning to wonder if the world was trying to tell me not to run however, third time was the charm.  Except that at this time, was when I began getting really ill.  I trained through illness and in some cases I'm surprised I made it to the finish line without fainting.  I spent the next 2 years without much exercise as I slowly faded away and my health continued to deteriorate. 

Fast forward to early 2010 (because this post is not about dwelling on illness) and I've been running consistently.  I've finished about 10 races since.  A couple 30k's a handful of halfs and some other odds and ends.  It brings us to the current date and now I'm preparing to run my very first marathon.  I NEVER ever thought I could EVER run a marathon.  Didn't think I had it in me both physically and diabetically speaking.  I never saw myself here.  I didn't think I had what it takes to train for a marathon.  I didn't think I had that kind of drive and discipline.

So why do I run?
More than anything else... IT FEELS GOOD!

But it's more than that.  There are so many levels to running.  There's the physical and the mental.  I run because it's not always easy.  It's hard.  It's one of the harder sports I've encountered.  So I do it because I am attracted to the challenge of pushing myself beyond my limits.  It's uncomfortable, there's no doubt about that.  Getting used to feeling uncomfortable is actually really humbling.  Feeling my heart beating out of my chest, the sweat stinging my eyes and my legs on fire is anything BUT comfortable.  But that's just it, you get used to it and the uncomfortableness of it all just feels a little annoying.  To eventually be able to trust your body and your legs to carry you countless miles... well you just can't find that feeling anywhere else.  I appreciate my legs and my muscles so much more.  I take care of them and hopefully prevent any injuries.  My legs are more than just two feet on sticks, they have become my power, my trust, my appreciation.  It wasn't easy at first.  I wasn't born in running shoes.  It took me years of on and off to really have the desire to stick with it long enough to reach that level of understanding.  I had to run through a lot of pain to understand why the hell people choose to do this.

For the past couple years running has really become my only outlet.  It has always been there for me to rely on for a release.  I need to be able to pound it out, sweat it out and cleanse myself of unwanted stress.  We all know that exercise is stress relief right?  For me, it is meditative.  Running is my meditation.  I get a lot of pensive thinking done.  A lot of soul-searching and complete inner thought processes.  It's where I can always go and count on  for release of frustrations and emotions.  I have been known to cry on runs and pass it off as sweat.  Through the seasons I can always trust in my running shoes.  I can always tell my legs to run for as long as it takes to blow off steam and give me something else to think about other than my miserable emotional and fucked up depression.

Running releases endorphins and adrenaline.  We all know that's the good stuff!

There is the vain aspect too.  I run to stay in shape and keep fit also.  I am diabetic after all and as most diabetics know, its really fucking hard to maintain a decent weight when on insulin therapy.  Don't even get me started on that.

Speaking of diabetes, I can't really say that running makes it easier to manage.  I wouldn't be far off if I said it makes it harder.  More blood sugar fluctuations are unavoidable.   Even through all my practice and experiments things still go very wrong sometimes.  One single run will effect my blood sugar for a whole 24 hours.  It makes me go super high sometimes and of course.. super low other times.  So really, I question if it's healthier on my diabetes if I didn't run.  Probably.  But I love to run, so the trouble is worth it to me.  It adds a whole new element

Running is a big mental sport and that also attracts me.  Knowing when I'm out there and I'm so tired and don't think I can take another step that I can "get on top of it" and keep going.  It amazes me how much we can actually control physically with our head space alone.  When I feel like I've hit a wall I tell myself not to stop.  Run through the pain, run through the ache and I do with great effort only to realize that I could ACTUALLY do it.  And yeah, there's lots of times I can't get on top of it, so I stop and walk.

I feel free when I run.  I feel in control where other areas of my life are constantly in complete disarray.  I feel stronger now not only physically but mentally.  It is a challenge and it forces me to be a better person.  It teaches me motivation, determination, discipline and self preservation.  It teaches me to believe in myself.  It teaches me to take care of myself and pay close attention to my health and nutrition.

It gives me something to live for when I'm having trouble everywhere else in my life.

It's all me.  There is nobody I need to rely on.  Nobody else is going to get me there but me.  My two feet and a heartbeat.

THAT is why I run.


  1. I totally get it and btw am in awe of you Dad. I love to run because of the freedom, the confidence it gives me and the love of feeling my feet pound away. It is great to be strong. Great post. -tara

  2. Beautifully said Scully. You've captured it all - the pain, the peace and everything in between.

  3. What an uplifting and truly motivating post Scully! Thank you for that!

  4. This post makes me want to go run, like, right now. Even though I too wouldn't make it to the end of the street. :)

  5. Love this post! That's so cool that you grew up with the influence of a runner in your life.

    All of your updates on your marathon training are inspiring to me, especially considering the other issues you have to deal with while running as well as with everything else going on in your life.

    Ah, insulin therapy and weight management... Did I get you started?..... :)

  6. Just what I needed to read this morning! Hey, have I told you that my heel is FINALLY better? It took months of rest, but I am BACK. I have been running 3 7 milers a week. I am hoping to start cranking up the mileage soon.

    You are an inspiration Sculls. I love how you put it all out there. The good. The bad. The hard. The sweet. You are real. Your reasons are real...I could relate to everyone of them. After Joe was diagnosed, runnig was my "release". I did not want to cry in front of him or Bridge or I would run and cry. I would do it often. Love you.

  7. Loved this post, and the pics. It does inspire me to try running again. The image of pounding out all the agression and depressing thoughts sounds so therapeutic. Glad you have such a healthy outlet for it.

    Gotta love our stupid little dogs, mine are always tripping me!

  8. Oh wow, this was awesome! I feel pumped right now, and like some of the others to comment, feel like running right now, too! You make it sound calming and thrilling all at once! I think the greatest part is that you were not born a runner and that you admit to working really hard to get to where you are. It's very inspiring. I'm so glad you told this story. That picture of you in the red is "Fabulous Runner Girl" and should be in a magazine lol :)

  9. Just happened across your blog, a lot that I can identify with. My dad was a runner, that's why I started. I still run, probably have been in some of the same races based on your medals and I too have T1 Diabetes 23 years! Have you ever considered running a Team Diabetes Race.

  10. Thanks for this post... it's cool to learn why others run. I'm with you - I hope running keeps me sane and healthy. :)


Due to low life spam monkeys I am forced to moderate comments and I hate it (But I hate spam monkeys more)