There’s something kinda strange about me and if you know me in real life, I think you would agree- when I find something I really like, I don’t easily let go and even start to identify with whatever that thing may be. Some call it obsession, I call it passion.
One of my first loves was radio, and I listened constantly as a kid, enjoying every genre of music, knowing all call letters and the on-air schedules of all my favorite DJs. I grew to also love singing, dancing, anything purple, red wine, fine dining, and then eventually- you guessed it- running.
I originally went to college to study acting and at USC I had to start working full time in order to afford such an expensive school yet found no money leftover for head-shots nor any time leftover to audition. I then decided go the academic route instead and when I got into film school, my absolute obsession with all things cinematic began…
… but if you think this post is about running movies in general, you’re wrong.
Running just happens to be a hobby perfectly suited for obsessive/compulsive/passionate people such as yours truly to fall into. And then came racing which gives you a freaking medal for your infatuation- I never earned a medal for liking the color purple or drinking lots of red wine or eating the most burgers!
Recently it occurred to me… I love running in the same ways that I’ve always loved the cinema. In college, I studied film and television critique which means that all of my work was dedicated to watching films and analyzing them, then writing up my point of view, critiquing every element of a film from beginning, middle, to end. And if you’ve ever read one of my race recaps, you know that I still do the exact same thing today when it comes to running!
A good race is just like a good movie- it goes by quickly, you’re entertained the whole time, you find a good challenge therein and there is a sense of satisfaction at the end. A bad race is also like a bad movie- it’s boring, you want it to be over, you feel uncomfortable, and at the end you realize you just wasted your time and money.
When I go for a run, especially a long run, I am the star of my own movie. I am the protagonist (“You can do it! You got this!) as well the antagonist (“You’re slow! You suck!”). It’s woman-versus-self (3 hours of sleep and a hangover), woman-versus-nature (hills, trails, off-leash dogs), and woman-versus-technology (Garmin can’t get a signal, iPod died mid-run). Sometimes I run in a comedy (color run!), sometimes a tragedy (darn marathons), but more often it’s a romance where I lose all sense of self and fall in love with running mile by mile.
As I’ve said, I have many true loves and many passions and am lucky to have the opportunity to indulge in them all. The current chapter in the movie that is my life revolves around my amazing family and keeping a home and in an effort to find myself and spend more time OUTSIDE, this progression towards running makes sense for me. I’m my own director, producer and star when I run- I control my own training, and I chose the route, the race, the when and the where.
So, why exactly do I love movies? Basically, because movies- visually and emotionally- take me to places I would never go on my own. And why do I love running? Because running also takes me to places- visually, emotionally, and physically- that I would also never go on my own. I pick a distance, chose a race, tackle the training, and am always amazed at how many new things I am able to see, feel, and do as a result.
Some races have a “higher production value”- that is, the more expensive the race is, the better the swag, the better the view, the better the course, the better the support along the way. And that stands to reason with movies too- a bigger budget garners better actors, better costumes, better cinematography. And in both cases, as I am sure you can agree, a higher production value, however, does not actually equal a really good movie or a really good race. I’ve run my fair share of “Waterworld” races where all that expense and input resulted in a completely failed output. It happens in the movies and it happens in running too.
And a medal is my Oscar of sorts- when I cross a finish line and the volunteer says, “Congratulations.” then hangs that gilded circle around my neck, that is my moment of sheer victory… in my mind, a hush falls over the crowd and the spot light is on me. The score swells and I smile, waving appreciatively to the crowd, and wear that thing proudly for the rest of the day. A medal is my reminder that I came, I conquered, and won MY race.
Unlike a movie, though, my running story doesn’t end…