Every Mile Matters

Every Mile Matters
by V. Kowalewski

I was a competitive 3-sport jock in high school, but I hated running. HATED. IT. Many years and several pounds later I decided I’d take up running as a way to get in shape and lose some weight. My first run was to a small bridge over a creek ½ mile away from my house. I SERIOUSLY thought I was going to die before I got to the end of the block, and I was pretty sure that bridge was getting further away instead of closer.

That experience was humbling to say the least.  It hurt my pride and kinda pissed me off.  So I signed up for the Bellringer 5 mile run in my hometown over 4th of July. They had a 2 mile, but hey where’s the challenge. I did the 5. And peed myself halfway through.  And poured water from the water stations down my front hoping to camouflage the fact that I had just run so hard I’d lost control of my bladder yet was one of the last to finish.

snowshoeIn the 20+ years since that “run” to the bridge things have changed a lot. I’ve done distances from 5K up to Marathon and events ranging from obstacle and snowshoe races to trail runs and Ragnar relay. I’ve raced in a barbarian costume and a tutu. TWICE. When I’m not training for an event I’m still running just because I enjoy it. Running brings a few minutes of peace to a chaotic existence. Problems seem easier to solve when I’m on a run.

These feet have seen a lot of miles in the 20+ years since that first run and I would have to say without a doubt every last one of them served a purpose.  Miles for strength.  Miles to challenge myself.  Miles running away from grief and stress.  Miles to purge despair and emptiness. Miles for peace and harmony.  Miles for new adventures and experience. Miles to celebrate being alive.  Miles to just BE BETTER.

Running’s certainly been an unlimited source of goals to chase. This year I’m coming back from an unexpected setback and the goal is to see if I can run various distances faster than last year, maybe faster than EVER.  So far I’m doing pretty well with that, and it’s been a blast! I’ve also been doing events with other people for fun instead of time. After years of running alone, it’s weird to do something like Ragnar with a team that’s counting on you to perform or Warrior Dash with people who don’t give a care and just want to have fun, or just going to a regular road race with a friend.

for-funAs I’ve grown older the focus definitely has become more about just challenging myself and enjoying the absolute snot out of the journey. These days I treasure every mile I’m able to put in. Time is precious and every mile has meaning. They’re not all glorious and effortless, but they’re not all suffering and toil either.  It is what it is, and right now it’s GOOD.

Why do I run? Because life truly is a gift, and of all the things I do to stay as healthy as possible so that I can ENJOY the gift running is what makes me feel the most….ALIVE.  Thanks, running friends, for all your support and encouragement on this amazing journey!

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V. Kowalewski is an Organizational Knowledge Analyst currently enjoying living, running and crocheting in the great 4-season state of MN and anywhere else she can manage to get to and do the same. She thinks cheese and craft beers are pretty awesome too.

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