My feet ache, my knees hurt, my breath is heavy and my mind is telling me it’s had enough. The humidity is high. Sweat is covering my eyes and the breeze that I felt within my first few strides has since subsided. I take a deep breath in and then let it out, praying each time my foot hits the pavement the cramp in my side will go away. With every song that plays I wait for the voice through my headphones to tell me I’ve at least run a mile, but when I unlock my phone I’m barely at a half. “I can’t do this,” I tell myself, “not today.” But, I keep going, I don’t stop. The runner inside me is not giving up. The runner inside me will not settle for less than the 3 miles I said I would run before I started this. She knows better. She knows my body is strong enough to finish. She will not let my mind, my self doubt or my insecurities win.
The more I focus on my breathing and my stride, the quieter the voice of doubt becomes. I coast off every now and then to sing a few of the lyrics playing on my iTunes, but that cramp begins to dig deeper into my side so I go back to breathing, tightening my abs to keep it at bay. I hit two miles and am starting to feel better. It may be because my feet are numb and my legs are jell-o that I know longer feel the fatigue, but I hear the voice once again with a per minute mile faster then the last. A smile crosses my face. I’m doing it. I’m more than halfway there!
By the time the 2.5 mile marker comes the sun is much higher in the sky. It’s beating directly down on my face and shoulders and I can feel the stillness of the air much more than before. I thought New York summers were hot until I moved to North Carolina. And even though I’ll take the heat over the snow any day, all I can think of in that moment is water. I’m starting to get dizzy and the ponytail on my head is becoming heavy.
“You’re almost there.”
I can hear her loud and clear. She’s pushing me with every bit of strength she has left. With each bead of sweat that is now pouring off of me, she cheers me on. She will not let me disappoint myself. She knows how badly I want this. She is my best friend and my worst enemy. She is the runner inside me.
It was not easy. Actually, it’s never easy. It’s always a battle between mind and heart every time I step out onto that open road. But, when I hit that 3 mile marker, when I could finally slow down to catch my breath, the feeling inside of me was worth it all. I can’t describe it, but I’m sure you know it well. I looked down to my phone for my pace:
Mile 1- 9:43
Mile 2- 9:33
Mile 3- 9:13
I did it. She did it. We did it. I can’t thank her enough on days like this. She pushes me harder, she keeps me going, she won’t let me give up. She has faith in me when I don’t have faith in myself. She is there exactly at the moments I need her the most and because of her I have been able to accomplish goals I never thought possible. All because she believed in me. It took me awhile to find her, but I’m so happy I did. She is the runner inside me.