Finding My Red Zone

The other day as I was skimming through my blogroll, a simple text graphic popped up. It read “Every runner has a reason.” It gave me pause and a smile: funny that this should pop up on my dash just now as I was thinking about PRs.

Over a year ago I declared a mission to run 103 races in honor of my grandfather, a mission that has taken on a life of it’s own. Twelve months and eleven races in, it is ever evolving and I feel blessed to be along for the ride. When I was young, running was nothing more than conditioning for soccer. Later, it was a means for me to destroy myself when I was very ill, wrapped up in the throes of eating disorder. Thankfully, it became my therapy, a Ragnar Relay my proving ground. Running allowed me to let go of that which plagued me and embrace the able body I had. The cadence of my feet became meditative, sweat therapy the saving grace that has helped lead me to health. Running gave me rebirth – and I want to take this literal second chance life has given me and just run with it.

For me, it’s not about being a Boston Qualifier or a Badwater finisher. It’s not about getting noticed by a big company. It’s not about sponsorship, being publicized, being an ambassador or networking. It’s not about the silly run costumes, the bling; the meet-ups, finish line photos and standings on Athlinks. It’s wonderful that certain things have become a part of my life due in part to running. I am grateful for the positive changes and many hopes and dreams have been born of it, but ultimately these things are not why I run.

Losing focus on the why of running dilutes the whole.

The list is long, but ultimately it is about me versus myself. Sure, I want to stack up against my age group, I would love to put up impressive times and stand on a podium for the first time, but ultimately it is about me, my personal best, finding my red zone and pushing the needle to it without breaking it. It is about seeing what this incredible machine I call my own can do, conquering my own doubts and growing in ways I cannot articulate. I run for myself, for my future family; I run for one of my best friends who took it up because she wanted to do it before MS took away her ability to do so. I run because I can, and I run for those who cannot.

I may never see that podium finish. I may never run a 1:45 half marathon. I may never be on the glossy pages of a magazine. But I run, I run with purpose and I run with reason, and as long as I can put one foot in front of the other, I will keep on running.