Running in Circles

I love to run.
There is something so therapeutic about it.
It makes me feel refreshed and it gives me time to sort out all the thoughts jumbled up in my mind.
I know we’ve talked about this before, but to update anyone who is new here, I retired from running two years ago.
To take it WAY back, I started running for fun in middle school.  Not on my track team (although I did that too- remember that Heleya?), I started running during the beautiful Seattle summers to enjoy the weather and as a mode of transportation to and from my friends' houses.
Then in High school I joined the cross country team.
That was a mistake.
I hated someone telling me how far and how fast to run.  It kind of made me hate running.
So I went back to running for fun. Through college and after I went for weekly fun runs.
Then my friend Liz convinced me that we should do the Danskin sprint triathlon, because that is apparently what you do when you no longer have any organized sports teams to join- and it seemed like a great idea.
I actually kind of enjoyed it.  There were highs and lows to it, but all in all I was glad I did it (although I still have some bike related animosity).
So then she convinced me that if we could do a sprint triathlon, then we could do a half marathon.
I needed a bit more convincing for this one, but of course I caved because I like to run and I like a challenge, and I was 24 and eager to do something new.
So there I was, running my first half marathon by myself (Liz got injured during training), and pretty much split down the middle on being excited and scared out of my mind.
When I crossed the finish line, I immediately wanted to do it again.
I felt great and so proud of myself for my accomplishment.  That was probably one of the reasons I wanted to do it again.  Not so much for the 13.1 miles of continuous running, but for the exact second I crossed the finish line.  It is a great feeling.  Worth all 13.1 miles.
So I did another one.
Then another one.
Then another one.
By time I had completed my 4th marathon, I had pretty much wrecked my knees.
Apparently my knees were not meant for constant pounding into pavement. Especially not 13.1 miles of it.
Although I was not happy about it, I needed to retire.  I thought about bronzing my running shoes, but what exactly do you do with a size 8 bronze running shoe?  And how do you make that work with your decor?
Instead I framed all of my finisher medals and put them in our gallery wall in our bedroom, as a reminder of my accomplishments.
So my last half was over two years ago.
I have been really good to my knees over those past few years, and I found that my homeopathy really helped them as well.  My knees have been feeling better than they have in a long time and I vowed to get back out there this year.
Running another half was on my list of new year’s resolutions and I planned to run the Ceour d’Alene half with my good friend Christie who lives there.  I also decided to test the waters with a 10k race (6.2 miles).
Over the weekend, Chris and I packed up and headed to Portland for my big return-to-running race.  My friend Sara was also returning-to-running after the birth of her adorable son Owen, and her friend Caitlin joined in the return-to-running fun as well since she also just had baby Lillia.
 So it was a whole group of us tentatively dipping our toe back in the running waters.
We lined up at the start line of the Race for the Roses on Sunday morning and that same fear/excitement came rushing back.  I didn’t have any intention on pushing myself, but I wanted to see what I could handle, so my goal was to do 10 miles.
All in all I’m so glad I ran the race.  Sara (the one in the middles- who happens to be built like a super model) has gazelle legs and took off like a bullet (so impressive) and ended up finishing with 8:11 miles (someone pick my jaw up off the ground).  Caitlin (on the right) was so sweet and stayed with me the whole run.  If it wasn’t for me, she probably would have been keeping pace with Sara, but she was an awesome running buddy.  There were so many times I wanted to stop and walk, but she kept me going- what a Godsend she was.
So as I crossed the finish line, with a smile on my face, I had the same old feelings of accomplishment and excitement, but also a new feeling.
I knew in my heart that I was never going to be able to run another half marathon.
I suppose I shouldn’t say never, because you never know what the future holds, but I know my body and I just don’t think I can make it.
At mile 4.5 my hips started to hurt, and then at mile 5 I had to stop to stretch my knee.  The pain wasn’t that bad, but I know that another 8 miles would have increased the pain exponentially.
Not to mention that I could barely walk about 3 hours after the race.  My joints along with my ankles, knees and hips were screaming at me.  I felt like I was an old lady waddling around the house making “oouo” and “ehh” sounds with every step.
So, I am officially going back into retirement, which means I will not be running the half this May, but I will be there supporting Christie as she crosses the finish line.
I’m not saying I won’t run at all, but I think 4 miles is the longest I should do. 
I see a lot of 5k’s in my future (3.1 miles).