When I run, I typically run with the Runners' Edge running club or by myself. Either way, I run along familiar routes in Niagara. Country roads that are magical in all seasons. We are so lucky to live where we live as we get to witness the entire life cycle of the orchards and vineyards that make up our countryside. From quiet bare winter branches, to fragrant spring blossoms, to summer fruit and fall colours.
The sights and smells are familiar, as are the people who share our roads. Occasionally we pass another runner, one who is not part of our group, but it's rare. More often than not, it's one of 'us' doing their own solitary run.
That's why today was so interesting. Rather than meet up at Runners' Edge, we all hopped in our cars and drove up the QEW to Stoney Creek. We ran along the Hamilton Trail for a change of scenery. The trail runs along Lake Ontario and it was beautiful.
It was also loaded with runners.
Runners I didn't recognize and certainly didn't know. Runners of all ages. Running quickly, running slowly, breathing hard, breathing easy. It didn't matter. They were everywhere and we Runners' Edgers were sorely outnumbered.
Watching all the people, it got me thinking about what makes people run. The reasons are as numerous and as varied as the runners themselves.
Why do I run?
I know why I started. While visiting Ottawa in the fall of 2008, I stumbled upon the CIBC Run for the Cure 5k race. Camera in hand, I decided to stand at the finish line and take some pictures. Never having watched a race before, I had no idea what I was in for. The emotions at that finish line were so intense that I forgot the camera and just stood and cheered. Tears flowed and I left inspired to join the ranks. I drove back to Niagara and straight to Runners' Edge to buy my first pair of real running shoes. I started the very next day.
Why do I keep running?
The easy answers are:
- to stay healthy
- to control my diabetes
- to push myself
But I really do it for the quiet. For that feeling that comes 8k into a run when I stop looking at my Garmin and I stop thinking about how tired I am. The moment when I stop trying to run and start getting lost in my head. It goes quiet, I no longer hear my breath and I, for lack of a better word, just go zen.
That feeling used to be fleeting, a few seconds at best. Then it started lasting a minute, two minutes. During this long winter of training, I began to find that I could run 5 kilometers without realizing it. I would arrive at familiar landmarks and wonder what happened to the last 30 minutes. Thirty minutes!
It's is a peaceful feeling. I think about things without really thinking about them. I solve problems I didn't know I had and I notice the details of my surroundings.
People have all sorts of ways of finding a few moments of peace.
I put on my running shoes.