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I remember when I first noticed you. A group of people were running around my neighborhood back in Maryland, and they looked so happy. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would look happy while running, but I was seriously lacking in the happiness department at the time. So I decided to give you a try. I started with Couch to 5k, and the sense of joy, pride, and accomplishment you gave me was palpable. Then, I broke my foot and forgot about you for a while. I was young and dumb back then.
When I came crawling back to you a few years later, you accepted me with open arms. I needed you to make me happy again and distract me from the pain in my life. In an effort to prove my commitment to you, I ran hundreds of miles in training and completed a marathon just a few months later. I was obsessed with you and couldn’t get enough. But then, you hurt me. My devotion to you left me battered and bruised with a stress fracture that took 8 months to heal. Maybe that was your way of telling me that I needed to learn how to actually deal with my problems instead of just distracting myself with you over and over again. I don’t know. Sometimes, I think you knew what I needed better than I did.
After all, you gave me confidence. Finishing marathons made me believe I had what it took to survive my divorce. After all, if I could run 26.2 miles by myself and travel by myself, then I could live by myself. You brought me so many friends who believed in me and supported me, with our common bond being you. You brought the right people to my life at the right time.
Yes, I guess some might say you have given me my life back. The people I’ve met through you have helped me to realize that I am never alone no matter where I go. Anyone who knows you knows what it is like to push through pain, whether they are fast or slow or a marathoner or a sprinter. You’ve created so many unbreakable bonds.
I love you, running. I love you because no matter where I’ve been in life, you’ve been there, too. You have let my relationship with you be defined by my needs and not yours. What can I say? You’re a giver. I’ve made space for you and you’ve made space for me in your community of worshippers. I used to say that you gave me freedom, but now I realize that’s not true. You just gave me the strength and confidence to realize that I could give it to myself. And although our relationship has changed over the years, I know we always have each other. I guess you could say we’re sole mates.