June 13, 2016
This is a guest post by Jerlyn Thomas. Photo by Ben Ko.
Running and I have had an on-and-off relationship since 2008. It knew it was a “Friends with Benefits” situation, as it helped me cope with my brother’s death, so there wasn’t much by way of support or rules in the process. It left me stranded many times with injuries and, now and then, we’d go through separations until it beckoned me again. It always seemed like we just used each other until we both felt guilty in the end.
We had an awkward relationship during 2012, and had spent a great deal of time together when I suddenly decided to challenge myself with a marathon (you know, to take our relationship to the next level). I didn’t want to make the commitment of signing up, but followed a schedule anyway. Eventually, an internal mediator chimed in, letting me know how Running felt, and encouraged me to sign up officially. I did. I became a marathoner and Running felt good for the first time. A couple months later (in January of 2013), I was injured while preparing for the Miami Marathon and I thought our relationship to be over. I started seeing my physical therapist instead and, because I missed Running so badly, thought about getting injections in my knee (but didn’t) to help stabilize our rocky relationship. Even if I wanted out of the arrangement, I had already booked the flight, paid entry to be #MiamiFamous, and my AirBnb room was not going to be wasted. I was going to give Running another chance.
During Miami, like a slap in the face, my goal wasn’t met. The run was excruciating. My KT tapes fell off mid-race and I missed my target goal, coming in a minute later than I wanted. I was devastated. For weeks I beat myself up about it and decided to separate from Running again. What I didn’t understand was why my running peers didn’t think it was such a big deal. They didn’t think a divorce was the right resolution, and I had already invested in all this time and gear. Some of them wanted what Running and I had because their relationships hadn’t progressed as much as mine, or they wanted me to share what they had developed. Even so, I was putting my foot down, and I didn’t want to compromise.
Let’s make some things clear: At the beginning, Running knew what was up. For 2013 it knew that I called myself “The Solo Runner.” I only saw familiar faces at races but met no one and spoke to no one. My heart wasn’t opened to meet others. I thought I was doing fine by signing up for races now-and-then to make Running happy. After Miami, as soon as I was strong again, it wanted more. It became obsessive and got into my head. I knew if I ever signed up for a marathon again, I could not be injured and I definitely wanted to PR like I had intended.
Then, out of nowhere, Running started slowly taking over my social life. I started to resent it a little but I tried to be open-minded. I still didn’t think meddling was the practical way to handle any relationship. It had begun introducing itself to others at races to find friends with common interests, and started a log of the time we spent together to make sure we were always making our dates to keep our relationship healthy and not overbearing. All of a sudden, I started appreciating those things. I agreed that we could rekindle. In the end our bond was so strong that it introduced me to a great deal of “firsts.” It led me to my first running vacations, focused running friends, track class and the Dashing Whippets. When I completed my 3rd marathon in December 2013 having Running in my life had me surpass all my goals. I had run the marathon the way I wanted. I was in love. I had assessed why I had fell in love in the first place and the support that I had from everyone around just made our relationship stronger.
I don’t know how much longer our open relationship will last, but I took the commitment. I’m in love again, and I trust Running wholeheartedly. To honor it, I even signed up for many races for 2016 as my resolution — hopefully our journey will last for decades to come.
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