This year I ran my first half marathon. I loved it. I wouldn’t have really considered myself a “runner” until this year. Yes I enjoyed going on runs, but nothing really over 12km. If I went for a run I usually enjoyed being outside, more than running. So, when I decided to run a half marathon it actually came as a bit of a surprise.
I’ve had the idea of running a half marathon in the back of my mind for awhile. I’ve had people tell me they had ran marathons and I always said, “Wow, that would be such a cool way to see a city”. Whenever I go somewhere new, I love walking around as much as I can, exploring. I remember when I left my small town of Flin Flon, MB and landed in Montreal to go to university, I had this overwhelming desire to see it all. I use to take the metro to different spots on the weekend and just walk around for hours, through different neighbourhoods, seeing and smelling different things. To this day, I can still place myself back there and feel that feeling I had. It fills me with the best memories and pure happiness.
When I was seeing a career councillor there was one exercise we did with a pack of cards. Every card had a different word written on it like family, travelling, wealth, creativity, … And you had to keep eliminating cards in the pack until you got to 5 cards or “words” that meant the most to you, or rather your values. Explore was one of my top 5.
Explore – travel in or through (an unfamiliar country or area) in order to learn about or familiarize oneself with it. I love this definition. It pretty much sums up what life is. Running allowed me to explore different neighbourhoods in a city I’ve lived in for years. I submerged myself in this experience and learned so much, not only about diet, hydration and nutrition required to become a better runner, but also about myself and my capabilities. Running allowed me to travel and explore unfamiliar parts of myself.
It also fills me with a sense of belonging.
I had a bit of an unusual upbringing. In so much as, I grew-up in a rural northern small town on an “auto ranch” aka junk yard. It’s hard to describe what that place meant to me and how much it shaped me. At one extreme it was an amazing place of wonderment and freedom, but on another hand it was incredibly isolating. I never had any neighbours, or a store I could walk to, it was pretty much just my family. And not to mention, this is back in the day when we only had 2 channels on our T.V. However, what I did have was a yard full of incredible treasures just waiting to be explored. I’d hunt through all those smashed up old cars, looking under seats for money, in glove boxes, finding Polaroid’s and relics from others peoples lives. Somehow it made me feel connected to a life outside of mine.
One thing I really enjoy about running is it gives you time to think. Time to reflect about your relationships, who you are, what makes you happy…. It’s weird, but it made me recall all those cards I went through years ago. I remember having to choose between the Adventure card and the Explore card. At the time I thought they were so similar. But really, they are so different. I don’t crave running for any kind of thrill. Rather it’s the journey of making the unknown sights and sounds familiar. It fills me with a sense of belonging, that honestly, I felt I’ve struggled with my entire life. It forms a fabric of happiness and acts as a safety net to support me through the hard parts in life. Collecting memories that entrench themselves in my soul.
They are true gifts.
When I reflect back on my life I can see these common themes of exploring and a desire to belong. I can also see how this passion I’ve found in running merges these two elements together in me. It’s like running over the Golden Gate Bridge and being in absolute awe of your surroundings, knowing that you are a foreigner in a place, but also knowing that somehow this experience is an absolute part of who you are. It makes you feel like you just walked through your front door, and you are home.
I think it’s really important to reflect and dissect the parts of life that bring you pure joy. It’s so easy to just think, yes, I loved such and such, it was fun, then move on. But to pin point what exactly it is that is bringing you joy is sometimes hard. For instance, I loved it that my husband and I did this together for our upcoming anniversary, in a city that we fell in love with while dating. I loved that I fell in love with running, the training, the solitude, how it connected me to myself and nature. But it’s the feeling of exploring, the views of the ocean, the golden gate bridge, the sights and sounds, the thoughts in my head connecting me to a place and time where I felt like I 100% percent belonged. It’s that moment and feeling that will live in my heart forever.
#explore #makingmemories #livingmybestlife