Couples Portraits in NYC, Crying Through Mile 9, & How to Learn to Like Running.

Google photos sent me an alert today. Love those. Two years ago, Michael and I were in New York celebrating finishing our undergraduate degrees. It was my first time in New York but Michael had been quite a few times before and I knew he would make the best tour guide. A few months before the trip, I had an itch to run a half marathon while we were there. For some reason, the thought of running somewhere other than where I lived seemed more motivating. I started to look up some races and found a half that was on the third day of our trip. I brought it up to Mike and he was really supportive! He did not at all allude to the fact that I was insane nor did he explain the extent of walking we would be doing. I trusted him…my bad. Just kidding. I really am so grateful for his support in all of my crazy ideas but it would have been nice of him to give me a small warning. Or just tell me I was nuts.

The first day in New York was incredible. Just taking in all the sights and smells. Falling in love with the energy. Falling in love with the subway. Feeling totally overwhelmed but in the best way. I loved it all. We walked 10 miles that first day, and 10 miles the next day. I blame it on the fact that the weather was extremely perfect and we were just so excited to be there.

The day of the race came. I tend to get anxious when I can’t map situations out beforehand. So races are always a bit nerve-wracking for me. The logistics of everything make me stressed but once I pick up my packet and get to the start, I’m totally fine. This particular race was an all-female race. It was a pretty incredible feeling running with so many strong women. Friends, family members of runners, and complete strangers were holding signs with all of the best puns. I had Hamilton on repeat and was doing totally fine until I saw Mike at mile 9. The temperature had dropped and my body was having a hard time adjusting and regulating so I was running with the worst chills I’ve ever had. Being freezing cold but also burning hot, all at once, is the strangest feeling. I also don’t think running completely untrained helped my case. But once I saw Mike cheering me on, I was just so overcome with emotion I couldn’t take it.

While I don’t recommend running a half marathon without training for it, I taught myself that I really can do something as long as my mind and energy is in it. And I’ll tell you, the only way I was able to run without training is because of the adrenaline and the massive amounts of energy from so many people trying to achieve the same goal. It’s totally inspiring. But I have since changed the way I run. I always heard about how people loved it and how it helped them clear their minds, etc. You’ve heard it too, I’m sure. But I seriously hated it. I could not think of anything more boring. But one day, pretty recently, I felt it too. I finally understood. Running is more than miles and speed. It’s more than clearing your mind. One of the biggest factors that helped me was focusing on proper form. I had a kinesiology professor who trained athletes for the Boston Marathon and he was always go in depth about foot strike, how to benefit from running behind others, and the angles of your legs. This was helpful. I found that I don’t feel fatigued so quickly. The other factor that helped increase my liking for running, was simply running. Completely ignoring distance and speed. Some days I run an 8-minute mile. Some days it’s 12 minutes. But I’ve actually found that I end up going a lot further.

I’ve also changed how I run, in business. Sometimes I would start to feel sad when I would see amazing projects others were working on. It wasn’t really a jealous feeling, but more of just sadness that I wasn’t already at that point too. I still feel this way sometimes, but now that I’m aware of it, and don’t like it, I try to channel that into motivation. Motivation to get to that point but also motivation to enjoy the run. If you’ve ever run for speed, you know that you are left feeling entirely out of breath, because that’s kind of the point. And not only was I doing that outside for exercise, I was trying to do the same in business. I have Michael to thank for keeping me grounded and focused on my personal pace.

Kelsey Cowley