I like to run — but not by myself

By LISA BRITTON Baker City Herald May 28, 2009 12:00 am

This is how I rate myself, exercise-wise: first a walker, second a hiker, third a runner.

But now I have a dilemma: I ran a half-marathon on May 16, so does that elevate running to first?

I have a love/hate relationship with running. It’s usually somewhere in the middle of a run — especially if we’re doing hills or intervals — that I think, “Is this really my idea of fun?”

The answer, I must admit, is yes.

Running is a challenge — you breathe hard and your legs burn and your feet take a heck of a pounding.

But when I slow to a walk after a run I feel invigorated and proud of what my body can do.

That’s how I felt May 16, when I crossed the finish line at the Great Idaho Potato Marathon in Boise (a half-marathon, 10K and 5K were part of it too).

My two running partners and I can say we officially finished in under two hours: 1 hour, 59 minutes, 59.8 seconds.

It was hard — I won’t pretend it wasn’t.

For the last two months we trained in the early morning in temperatures varying from 10 degrees to 40 (after the 10-degree day we agreed that it had to be 20 or above before we ran outside).

The Boise run started at 7 a.m., and by the time we finished the temperature was near 70 degrees. And my shoes started rubbing wrong somewhere around mile 10.

I was so glad to see that finish line ... though I didn’t appreciate the spectator who hollered, “only 200 more yards!” and another who yelled, “it’s just around the corner!”

They should have just clapped.

Afterward, as I sat in the grass sharing grapes with my daughter, I couldn’t help but think of how far I’ve come with running.

I played tennis in high school, and always dreaded our required run during practice.

Then I discovered the social part, and running became an escape from the everyday trials of life.

I’ve had different running partners over the years due to someone moving away, or pregnancy, which makes running a bit uncomfortable.

But all shared something in common: conversation.

Women and men are different in a lot of ways — countless books have been written on that very topic — but the one I understand the best is the need to chat during exercise.

We call it our therapy — an hour in the morning without kids or husbands when we can just talk about anything that’s on our mind.

And we’re good at adjusting our strides to ensure we can carry on a conversation — even if it comes in short, breathless phrases rather than full sentences.

I never fail to feel better by the end of a run, both physically and mentally.

So yes, I guess I am a runner.

But I have to give credit to all my running buddies who have helped keep me motivated — it’s a long, empty, lonely road when you have to run by yourself.

Lisa Britton is a reporter for the Baker City Herald.