This October marks my tenth year as a runner. The me from 15 or 20 years ago would have found that absurd. I was never an athletic kid. I lazily played softball into high school, shifting my weight from side-to-side in the outfield, waiting for a fly ball. I briefly joined the high-school track team — I struggle to recall why — but I lasted all of about four weeks until I got a part-time job at The Corner Pharmacy making milkshakes. So although it took a while, I’m thankful every day to have found something that makes me so happy, that’s changed my life in a way nothing else has.
Although I’ve now had many sporty influencers in my life — some of whom I never even knew by name — but it all started with Lee Purdy, a co-worker from my days at Carelli Costumes. We were working 60-hour weeks, and somehow Lee found time to train for a marathon. Lee looked like a classic runner — trim and lean, athletic. We didn’t resemble each other at all. Yet I was curious about her running, and the races she was doing, and the camaraderie she was finding with other runners. She was very encouraging, offering to join me if I signed up for a race.
So I started jogging a little bit in Astoria park, adding a little more each week. And I took Lee up on her offer. In Oct. 2002, I competed my first 5-mile race, with Lee Purdy running alongside the whole way (no doubt a good bit slower than she was used to running).
I’d like to say that it was all smooth sailing from there, but life isn’t often that linear, is it? I trained for and finished the New York City Marathon in 2003 (my buddy Rob Guglielmetti wrote a wonderful essay on it – you should read it because he’s a terrific writer). But after that marathon, I hardly ran at all for years. (Read all about that here.)
But something weird happened after moving to Brooklyn. Maybe it was having a new park to explore, but I started running again in a big way, my times improved remarkably, and I discovered a ferocious competitive streak. And though I really love races, I also enjoy encouraging people to try running, even if they don’t think they “look” like a runner. I always enjoy a nice jog with a newbie. During my time at About.com, led some after-work happy hour runs, something I hope to do again.
There’s no conclusion to this post — just a big arrow pointing ahead to what I hope is a long-distant finish line. And if anybody wants to go for a run, or even a little run/walk, I’m your girl. I have certainly learned one thing: You can do a LOT more than you think you can. Your mind is the main thing in your way. So find a way to get past your perceived limitations. I’ll be running Sunday morning, so call me if you want to meet in Prospect Park, okay?