First: Today is 11/1/11. I love that. I’m really excited to make a wish at 11:11 am. Also, Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit! Say it and you’ve got good luck for the entire month.
No, I’m not superstitious, but thank you for asking.
Now let’s talk about running.
I remember going in for my Run For The Rabbit screen test so vividly (yes, it was the day I met Brian for the first time, but I remember other stuff from that day, too). I had been told that out of 350 applicants, I was one of 50 or so finalists being brought in to talk on camera about my running history and the charity I wanted to raise money for.
I rambled on for a really long time to the director and the PR girl. They threw questions at me and, in true Ali fashion, I never once thought before I spoke. That’s simply not my style.
As I talked about the half marathons I had run, I got more excited about the possibility of running a full marathon. It was then that I realized that running had become a huge part of my life. I didn’t identify myself as a dancer anymore — that ship has sailed oh so far away — but I also didn’t want to just identify myself by my day job. I wanted more “titles,” and as Run For The Rabbit kicked off, I decided that “runner” was a title I should eventually get used to. Fastest runner? No. Best distance runner? Surely you’re joking. But runner? OK. I can get used to that.
The moment I remember most from the screen test was the final question the director asked: “Why do you run?”
Again, without thinking: “I run to stay sane.”
For me, running has never been about speed or distance. I mean yeah, of course while I was training for the marathon, there were days when a particular run was exactly about hitting a certain speed or mileage marker. And now that I’m training for the Las Vegas Half Marathon, I’m again focusing on specific training goals.
But overall, I run because that’s my Ali time. And I value the heck out of Ali time.
I don’t always run alone. Today I ran 7.5 miles with Kelly and Brian, and I loved the company. Kelly is running the New York City Marathon on Sunday, so we ran through the finish line area where all the bleachers are set up. I was ridiculously giddy for her and all the other runners who will cross the finish line on Sunday (giddy = jealous, but you get it).
People have asked me before why I work out twice a day sometimes — running in the morning, gym at night. It’s not about weight loss and it’s not about exercise addiction (though thank you, coworker who left that article on my desk that one time inquiring about my “symptoms”).
I run in the morning so that I can wake up and not go right to work. I adore my job, but I don’t want sitting at a desk to be the first thing I do every day. So I run. I’ll sometimes go to the gym at night for a group class, like Chisel or Spinning, because I like the group mentality and sometimes it’s nice to park yourself on a bike and let a teacher tell you what to do.
In the morning though, I see familiar faces in Central Park, I break a killer sweat and sometimes I wear leg warmers for the occasion.
When I run I think about nothing. Other times I think about everything. Sometimes I’m cranky when I start running, but I very rarely finish a run in a bad mood.
Today my stomach gave me Hell. Again. I took a while getting out the door in the first place, and then I had to stop twice during the run. It was frustrating, especially when my energy felt so depleted that I almost asked Kelly to give me a piggy back ride up Cat Hill. (I wasn’t sure whether piggy back rides were advised during taper, so I didn’t ask.)
But then, more than 7 miles later, I was home and happy.
While I ran, I didn’t think about my To Do lists (yes, plural, fantastic) and I didn’t worry about the fact that the ceiling in my bathroom has a persistent leak that my super doesn’t seem eager to fix. I definitely didn’t care that an hour had gone by without checking my email.
So that’s why I run. Running keeps me sane. It keeps me calm. It gives me time away from people — or with people — to be doing exactly what I want. It’s time outside, in the park, in my ultimate happy place.
And to think, when I was in college and someone suggested running, I said “No thanks” because it seemed “boring.”
I’D LOVE TO KNOW: Why do you run?