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Meggie’s Ode to Running

Hello from the West Coast!!

This week I’m swapping coasts to attend a conference for work, and I have to tell you all – after only a couple of hours here, I’m ready to relocate. Sorry New England – but I don’t miss your humid summer weather one bit.

Anyway, while I’m off exploring my temporary home, I have a special guest post for you. I’m really excited to be able to share another Ode to Running with you. Meggie, from The Thinks I Can Think is here to share her Ode. I love her story, and I hope you do too!

Meggie’s Ode to Running

True story: I wrote my medical school admissions essay on how I wasn’t a runner and all of my friends were.

Ok, somewhat of an exaggeration, but my personal statement’s opening story was that of my friend trying to convince me in the 6th grade to run cross country rather than try out for cheerleading as “6th graders never make the squad.” In all fairness, she had no idea I was a gymnast and throwing standing back tucks was my forte.

mailSweet warm-ups circa 1997

Don’t worry, we became best friends and I’m now her bridesmaid (and I thank her for causing a story that made for a good enough essay to get me into medical school!)

BMSAwardsCheerleader with her two running friends

In light of my essay, I consider it somewhat ironic that medical school is when I fell in love with running.

Although I played tennis all throughout high school and college (go NYU!), I always dreaded running. Even the few warm up laps before practice were painful.

This is so boring!
How do people find this fun?
Why would anyone every want to do this as a sport?!?

That pretty much sums up my thoughts towards running for the first 22 years of my life. I didn’t understand how I could play 3 hours of tennis easily, but running for 30 straight minutes was like torture.

n808472_33394987_1905I look like Maria Sharapova, right?

RobbyGinepriStalking one of my favorite players, Robby Ginepri

When I started medical school in NYC, tennis wasn’t really an option anymore. Court times are expensive and tennis is a sport that requires a lot of, well, coordination. You have to reserve a court time, find someone who can hit at that same time, bring balls, get your racquets restrung, etc. I was a little lost without a competitive outlet, but I figured I’d need to get used to it as I thought my competitive days were over.

I’d see other students leaving from the medical school dorm in the morning for their morning run. To be honest, it made me kind of mad. Why couldn’t I like running? Why wasn’t running so easy and enjoyable for me like it was for these people? What secret did they know that I hadn’t been let in on?

I tried running a few times on my own. It. Was. Terrible. I chalked it up to the fact that I just wasn’t “made” for running.

Around January of my first year of medical school, my former teammate, Erika, mentioned she was training for a marathon. I was, first and foremost, jealous of how much she probably got to eat and, second, perplexed by how she could find running for that long “fun.”

Being a former tennis player like me, I asked Erika how on earth she could enjoy running after hanging up her rackets. She told me she made it social and suggested I come run with her on Friday after work. I agreed, figuring it would be something manageable for me, such as 2 miles, since she told me she “couldn’t run too far because she had her long run the next day.” She then suggested we do this “little loop that I usually do, it’s about 5 miles.” I told her she was insane and there was no way I could run 5 miles without needing an ambulance.

Somehow she got me to go run with her…and I made it! I ran 5 miles without stopping. We ran super slow, but the sense of accomplishment I felt after that little 5 mile run gave me a glimpse at that “secret” of enjoying running that I hadn’t been privy to for so many years.

After I a few more Friday 5 mile runs, Erika suggested I sign up for a 10K race with her running club. I was pretty reticent because a running club sounded like it was for “runners,” and I definitely didn’t put myself in that category. Plus, I didn’t want to have everyone wait on me to finish, as I would surely be the slowest.

Somehow I was still persuaded to not only sign up for that 10K, but to go to Erika’s running club. And, to my surprise, 2 of those “running clubbers” offered to run that entire 10K with me, making sure I “made it” and had a good time. Guess what…I did! After I finished that race, I was pretty hooked.

Picture 1Not my first 10K, but one of the first races I ran, that Erika ran with me. Apparently, this was a stimulating conversation we were having. At that point, I was just trying to finish, no time goals or anything.

That was 2009. Since then I’ve completed numerous races, including 2 marathons, run all over NYC, and rekindled my competitive fire that I thought would need to quelled for the rest of my life.

A lot of people question how I fit in running with medical school. Most think running would add stress to my already stressful life. And, yes, sometimes fitting in time to run can be, well, stressful. However, on the whole, running itself has, I believe, made me a better medical student.

Giving myself an outlet to challenge myself in has buffered the challenges of medical school. Pushing myself in a workout makes reading for a few hours on the intricacies of gallbladder disease seem not so bad. I’ve found that the more I push myself in one arena, the harder I start to work in the other. And, maybe this is just coincidental, but on days that I run I find myself a lot calmer at the hospital than on days I don’t.

Besides the mental health benefits, the reasons I kept running are almost too numerous to list. I love a good “conversational” run with friends. I love the feeling of setting a new PR or running a time you never thought you’d be able to. I love competing in races, even if it is only versus my “former self.” I love being outside. I love finding that extra gear at the end a race I never knew I had. I love trying a new workout. I love buying more tempo shorts that I don’t need. I love proving other people wrong. I love being able to fit into my skinny jeans. I love setting goals.

MarathonNYUProud products of NYU Athletics Golden Era

MarathonPickyBarsHappy and hungry with a new marathon PR! 3:48:03

I know my life as a resident and doctor will surely be busy. Nevertheless, I think something will still keep me lacing up my shoes every day.

Thanks so much for sharing Meggie! If you want to read more from Meggie, check out her blog!  And you all know how much I love sharing other runner’s stories, so if you’d like to be featured on HOTR, just send me an email!

14 Responses to Meggie’s Ode to Running

  1. I love reading the stories of other runners! We all taking a different path, but once we find running, it becomes such a part of who we are. Thanks for sharing your “Ode to Running,” Meggie!

  2. Have a wonderful time on the west coast, Lauren!

    Meggie, awesome story! I cannot believe the first time you ran you managed to go 5 miles without stopping. Truly impressive!

    • Well, thank you! I had been trying to run a little bit on my own before that, but hadn’t made it past 2 miles. So, I thought I just wasn’t “made” for running, especially since it hurt my hamstrings so bad at the time. But, once I started liking running, some of that pain magically went away :) – miraculous, right?!? My body was probably just trying to help me make excuses.

  3. This is a great running story. I love reading about how people fall in love with the sport. Always inspiring. 3:48 is a super awesome marathon time too! Holy moly meggie is fast!

  4. I love this story, Meggie! It took me a while to find running too (and I was a gymnast as well!), but I am SO glad I realized how much I love it. :)

    And Lauren, I hope the west coast is as lovely for you as it was for me the past couple of days!!

  5. I love hearing how different people fall in love with running. This is a great story, Meggie! I’ve been running for 10ish years but never really loved it until about 5 years ago. It’s funny how life circumstances, time, and just growing up can change how we feel about something so much.
    Lauren – hope you soak up all of that gorgeous West Coast weather and bring some back with you!

  6. Great story, Meggie! Running should help in med school, I know it really helps me destress and refocus!:)

  7. so i have to do an ode as a school project and this really helped to give me a start so thank you :)

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