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Run Long, Run Free

This is the first in a series of blog posts that feature women’s and girls’ voices talking about real-life experiences developing courage, confidence, and leadership while adventuring outside.

Run Long, Run Free

By Cat Massa, Women’s Wilderness Staff
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I was never much of an athlete growing up. Actually, I spent most of my time in my room with my nose in a book. The thought of running a mile in P.E. blew my mind. How could anyone ever run that far? Little did I know, I would be accomplishing that mile later in my life – 26.2 times in a row.

I did not have an easy childhood; my father made sure of that. By the time I was 12, I was anorexic and suicidal. I had given up on my family, my friends, and myself. My mother  and Mother Nature saved my life. Mom brought home a flier one day that advertised a backpacking program for girls called Goddess. It was completely free of cost, and I decided to participate because it sounded like a nice change of pace. Seven years and numerous Goddess trips later, I stood surrounded by my closest, smelliest friends. I had developed a connection with nature and myself that I never knew existed. That “change of pace” forever changed my life.

When I entered college, I wanted my love of the wilderness to extend the boundaries of backpacking. I wanted to be able to experience it daily without needing to take days off from work, so I invested in a pair of running shoes. My first day running was a mile long, and I rewarded myself with four pieces of pizza because I thought it was so difficult. As my mileage grew, so did my love of the sport – and my love for myself. Eventually, I registered for a half marathon. On the morning of race cheapvaltrexbuy.com day, I felt scared, nervous, doubtful, and unsure of myself. When I crossed the finish line, I still felt scared, nervous, and doubtful, but I was certainly more confident in myself and my abilities than ever before. I went home that day and registered for several more races. The nerves and fear will always be there, but I rarely feel unsure of myself now.

Two months after my first half marathon, I ran my first marathon at 19 years old. If I am completely honest with myself, I decided to run it because I wanted to know if this accomplishment would finally mean that I was good enough for my dad. For a brief moment after I crossed the finish line, I was. That moment did not last long, however, and I finally learned that I wanted to run for myself and no one else.

Running is my escape. It is my direct line to nature that I tap into every day. I have run three marathons, one ultra relay, and countless 10Ks and 5Ks. Trust me, running is not constantly blissful and pleasant. I have cried from injury pains, given up less than half way through long runs, and considered quitting running entirely. Similarly to the rolling hills of my favorites runs, however, I am emotionally climbing up and down hills in my running. That is the best part. Every time I rise after I fall I feel totally empowered and invincible. Therefore, I use running as a coping method for everything in my life. I am no longer suicidal, and I happily eat enough calories to make football players nervous.

The world can hit me with as many uphills as it wants because the view from the top makes every step worthwhile. And of course, the downhills are pretty awesome, too.

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