working out

Runners High

Having finished a 5 mile run around the town of Pelham it’s amazing to see how things haven’t changed much since I left. It’s like time stood still but with fewer people that I know and a couple of new businesses. I left Pelham after finishing college and lived in three other cities; Providence, Boston, and Chicago, before returning back. To be honest, much of my past happened in New York and in a way I wasn’t ready to move back there right away. Anyway, after living in Chicago for 3 years, my wife and I decided to move back to be closer to family and friends. As part of my adjustment, I started taking up running to get familiar with Pelham again. Typically, my runs would take place in the heart of town where I reminisce all the places I used to hit as a kid; the pizza parlor, the local grocery store and empty shops on Fifth Ave. The buzz of activity is what I love about running and how keeps me closely in touch with the area. Running for me started because of my mom, who ran every day before heading to work. She would get up early every morning around 6 AM to head out for a 5 mile run as part of her daily workout routine. One time she took me to the Bronxville race track to run a couple of laps. At first, I wasn’t a fan of it but over time my body got adjusted to running. Eventually, I started to increase my pace and distance to where I was going out on 2 to 3 mile runs. It was when I moved to Boston where I went from small runs to half marathon distances. It’s a great place to run especially along the scenic route of the Charles River. Boston offers runners a way to gauge their distance using the Science Museum as the starting point and the bridge (over the Charles) they’ve crossed. Typically I would start near the museum and cross the second bridge which was around 5 miles. Eventually, I saw the potential to challenge myself to go further and go beyond my 5 mile route. Then one morning I woke up early and was determined to go for a long run. It started as my normal route but instead of going right and crossing the bridge, I went straight instead. My goal was to make it to the next bridge that crossed the river, which was another 4 miles of running. By the end of my run, I ran a little over 9 miles which was more than I planned for. Convinced I could do more, I started participating in half marathons. I was completely into running to where I enjoyed the benefits of weight loss, eating whatever I wanted and more importantly just being outside. Having completed a number of half marathons, I felt I needed to take on a bigger challenge. After finishing a race in Philly, I decided that next year I’m going to complete a full marathon. Of course, this didn’t come without trepidation as the thoughts of running 26 miles seemed crazy. This is when I told myself that you need to do this, you’ve been through bigger life hurdles than this. Flashbacks of being bedridden in the hospital staring at large bags of chemo only added more fuel to my decision. A week later I purchased my ticket and signed my fate into completing the race. A few months later I started my training which involved running throughout the week and long runs on the weekend. The day of the marathon finally came and I was nervous but kept telling myself that “you’ve been through worse”. The race eventually started and the first half of the marathon went well but by 15th mile, I started getting bad leg cramps which force me to pull over. Honestly, I was a little worried at this point especially with 11 more miles to go. But after massaging my legs and drinking some water, I got back up and resumed the race. Seeing the finish line in the distance, I started to see all the perseverance and strength I built both physically and mentally paid off. There were many points I questioned my commitment through this experience and in the way the past helped fuel the future. The constant thought of my fight through my cancer treatment kept me determined to finish my goal. Crossing the line, was a huge weight off my back and a sense of completion. I saw my friends waiting for me and excited for my finish of the race. Despite my legs feeling sore, I was able to go out that night and celebrate the accomplishment. It was an unforgettable day that proved my commitment to a goal and my drive to take on any challenge in my life.