I wasn’t always a runner.
Most people think that I ran in high school but I didn’t.
My school didn’t actually have a cross country or track team when I was there. The running that I did was minimal, to stay in shape for field hockey, basketball, and rowing. Running in college was also a means to stay fit for Crew. When we were not on the water in the the winter we spent the majority of our time running, lifting and erging (using the rowing machines). I loved going out for our runs but would only run at practice.
Running found me after college. I was in the first year of teaching first grade in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. I was highly stressed. The school where I taught had a highly transient population of students and there were a high amount of behavioral problems in each classroom. I would come home every day feeling drained and overwhelmed. How was I supposed to teach when I felt like I could hardly manage my classroom. I was no longer rowing which left me feeling somewhat lost. I had depended on rowing to help me maintain focus through goal setting. It had helped me to relieve stress. On the water in the boat was where I felt the most alive and most like myself. I needed to find some outlet for what was going on every day, some way to release.
Then I met Bridget and Joanna, two other teachers. They invited me to join them on the Kingdom Trails in Burke, Vermont to go trail running. The Kingdom Trails are a vast network of trails in the gorgeous Northeast Kingdom of Vermont that are primarily used for mountain biking but ripe for trail running. Miles and miles of single track leading through the woods with scenic vistas, and trails leading up on the mountain to challenge your legs. I had never run in such a spectacular place before. I didn’t know that I place like that existed. I joined them and a group called the Kingdom Krazies for runs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday mornings for long runs. We would run in a line down the trail and also talk along the way about anything and everything. We also started running races together. These people became my community, my friends.
Slowly but surely I began to find myself again. Running became my group therapy. It became my church. There was something about being out on those trails that was just magical and I found that I could run my stress away. The more I ran the better I felt both physically and mentally. So it was on those trails where I discovered my happy place. When I stopped rowing I felt like my identity was misplaced but now I had found a new one.
I AM A RUNNER.