For the most part, you just need comfortable socks, a good pair of running shoes and shorts that don’t bunch up while you run. And, of course, you need wipes, lots and lots of wipes! Wipes for sunscreen, wipes for removing the dried sweat after a long run, and wipes to help take care of “things” when you are far away from anything that remotely resembles a bathroom. And no, simple tissue paper will not do in these situations.
I was never a runner as a child. Sure, I ran around a lot as a kid playing with the others in the neighborhood but I was not a trained runner. I didn’t run track in high school and I wasn’t even a recreational runner as a young adult. It wasn’t until I went back into the workforce after being home with my four children that I began running. And, what started as a way to get me moving after a long day of sitting at a desk became a bit of a passion for me. I went from struggling to finish a one mile run to having completed races of all distances, from 5k to full marathons, all over the U.S.
One important requirement of a long distance runner is patience. If you are a slower runner like me, you must be willing to spend hours, and I mean lots and lots of hours, out on the road or trail. You need to be willing to get up early in the morning, leave your entire family asleep comfortably in their beds and begin your long run before any self-respecting human would even think about venturing out. You will plan every day around getting in your training miles and still try to have some sort of life. You need to be willing to dodge automobile drivers talking on cell phones or neighborhood dogs “greeting” you as you run by. You need to be willing to listen and nod politely when your non-runner friends tell you that you are going to wreck your knees with all that running. You need to be willing to get up each day and do this again and again until race day. And, it seems like training does not get much easier each year and the aging process does not help matters. Like many runners, I have a love-hate relationship with running, which has not changed much over the years. But I can say that for me, even a bad run feels better than not getting out running at all.
So I stay motivated by picking a longer distance race or two for each year. Most often the race has some sort of special meaning to me — Boston Marathon on a dare from my nephew, the Marine Corp Marathon in honor of my dad and son. But other times it just a matter of having a race on the calendar to keep me honest about training. Having that race written in on the calendar in red permanent marker forces me to stick to a training schedule and keeps me excited.
For me, race day means that I have three goals in mind. The first goal is always the same -- to finish the race standing upright and under my own power. Any goal after that is icing on the cake, they could be anything from beating my previous marathon time to achieving some magic finish line time that I came up with in my head while on one of those really good training runs. But the best part of finishing any race is being met at the finish line by my granddaughter, Kaylyn, and giving her a big, sweaty hug that she loves to pretend she hate. And then, every time, she will ask me if I won, to which I always reply “yes, yes I did!”.
Once I have fully reveled in the glory of having just run 26.2 miles, I’m ready to remove the grim and salty sweat of the day from my face and elsewhere with the closest thing to a shower. It’s time to bring on the wipes – big, soft, wet wipes. This is usually the same time I am saying to myself “never again”. But then I get cleaned up, put some delicious post-race treats in my belly and stay off my feet for a while. And then it happens, I start thinking about what that next race might be, but it’s just thinking. Then, after a few days of rest my thinking is replaced with an easy two-mile run, which turns into a five-miler, which then turns my thoughts to what that next race might be…