The best way to see a country, unless you are pressed for time, is to travel on foot – William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style
“I love to run”
Over the years, this exchange has taken place so frequently and with such ardor that it has earned a soft spot in my heart — thanks world, kick a puppy lately? It’s time to address “Ew’s” cousin (and second most popular response), “why?”
To answer the question, I brought a camera on a run between the First Bosphorus Bridge and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge along the Bosphorus Sea.
It’s a fair question. I admit. Getting out to run is, well, it’s rather, sometimes, really…poopy.
If you like tearing yourself out of a warm and satisfying sleep to hit cold concrete, a morning run for you.
If you like pounding your knees, legs, and feet into solid cement, running is physical therapy.
If you like exerting yourself to exhaustion only to end up right back where you started, by all means pant and wheeze your way around the block.
If you like selfishly hoarding all the fresh cherry tomatoes for yourself well then who the heck are you and why are you reading my blog? I just remembered that I’m upset with you.
The obstacles that flash through my head in the moments before a run are the million things that could tear me away: Facebook, chat with mail man, sleep, donut, letters, dishes, color code closet, pluck eyebrows, blog — in this moment, this twenty minute interval between the couch and the half mile mark it’s very easy to quit before I’ve even begun.
The first day of the week and the first 10 minutes are the hardest. I’m suddenly aware of the last thing I ate (a bowl of rice with Thai chili sauce, and wheat toast with Nutella for breakfast) and the last time I plucked myself out of bed. I’m cursing myself out for my body’s aching — some of it ITCHES! GARBAGE! EXPELLIARMUS! FLIBBY, FLOBBY, HANNAH MONTANA! Why didn’t I stretch more last week, WHY am I bothering now? I doubt that it’s even worth it and I doubt that I can do it.
But something magic happens about 10 minutes in. Every time I pass that mile mark sparks fly. I remember why I love to run. My muscles relax. I get into stride. I just think: if I go a little further, push a little harder, run a little faster nothing can touch me. I can do anything. I can go anywhere. These thoughts are powerful.
I am doing it. And I know I can do it.
The spirit of running is integrity: we must be honest with ourselves or we will never go the distance. We must know that we can go the distance.
The people we pass along the street are cheering (in our heads) but they have no idea what journey us runners are on: they haven’t seen how far we’ve come or how hard we’ve been working — they only see a blur of a beast for one brief moment and then we’re gone.
We don’t run for them, we run for ourselves — only you know how far you’ve come and how hard you’ve worked and there’s no cheating yourself.
As I work into my stride and work into the spirit of running I change.
Good running form forces me to carry myself differently, more confidently; “run tall” is the mantra. In the zone, my posture is better, and ironically, with my hair wind blown, frizzy, and sticking to the back of my neck, when I’m wearing no makeup and my face is flushed, I feel the most confident. I feel radiant. No one needs to tell me I look good or reassure me. I know that myself. I also know that I am more than something that looks good. I don’t need to be reassured that I make this outfit work. I am honest with myself because running is integrity.
I’m not one of those athletic gear ads with the head cut off of a really chiseled girl’s body, never will be (you know the, “Don’t stop until you get it” ads that look really inspirational but really are just kind of insulting?). But that’s okay because I don’t run to look like that. My self-worth doesn’t lie in looking a certain way. Running is not a short-term affair fueled by Pinterest. My chiseled abs are in for a lifelong love with physical activity and good health.
My goal is to be one of those 113 year old little ladies pumpin’ my arms and feet around the neighborhood and cackling at the fickle fads of youth — that will be my joy.
Some people like chasing balls or throwing things to say there’s a point to their sport and that’s okay (I say that my sport is your sport’s punishment). I was born with the coordination skills of an infant, but I was born to run.
Running is me in true form: I remember where I come from and where my self-worth lies.
I feel powerful when I run because I realize, at last, the full estimate of myself and my potential; running becomes spiritual. My self-worth comes from knowing who I am and being true.
I love to run, to run. Running is running, is running, is running.
It is a reason in itself. I come alive with the effort.
It really is the greatest thing to explore a country on your own two feet.