On Sunday, May 1, 2016, runners will take to the streets to participate in the 2016 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. This year, not only can you run in any of the events of that weekend, but you can also raise money for the Carnegie Library while doing so! Currently, runners and Library-lovers have raised close to $1,000; if you are interested in running or donating, check it out here!
I used to be a biker. Or a cyclist. Whatever the preferred title is. When I started working for CLP in 2002 I rode my bike to work four or five days per week, climbing up 18th street to CLP – Knoxville where I performed my duties as a children’s specialist. On the weekends I’d go for long bike rides; I rode my bike to the store, to run errands, I rode it everywhere. In 2011, I rode it all around the city in the 48.4 mile Cycle for CLP tour of all Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations. If there was a day that I didn’t ride the bike (whether due to fatigue, extreme weather or just simple laziness) I’d be cranky and irritable. In the winter, if there was snow on the ground I might run a few miles every once in awhile, but that was about it.
But over the years a change took place and I have ever so slowly, and at times, reluctantly, become a runner. Now, I haven’t touched the bike for months, but in 7 weeks I am going to lace up my running shoes and run 30,000 or so steps to raise money for literacy and learning.
Way back in 2002 (or even 2010), if someone had told me that I’d be running a marathon I wouldn’t have believed them, and said there’s no way that would ever happen.
In 2011, on a whim I signed up for the Pittsburgh Sprint Triathlon. After panicking, flailing around and hyperventilating in the open water, I completed the bike and run portions of the race. I finished realizing that I needed to work on being a better swimmer, and perhaps a runner too. After hours and hours spent in pools, rivers and lakes, I still can barely swim. But I begged a couple of friends who were accomplished runners to let me run with them. The first time I ran with my friend Garrett in Frick Park was not a blissful experience: It was cold … and icy … and I was miserable much of the time. We ran a little over eight miles, and afterward, I could barely walk for two days (Does this sound like fun yet?). Every muscle in my legs was so sore it took me five minutes to walk up and down the stairs.
Yet I persisted. Each weekend I’d run somewhere in the eight-nine mile range, and the runs got easier. One Sunday morning, I ended up running 13 miles with a friend, and he told me, “Hey. If you can do 13, you can probably run the full marathon.” I balked, but you know what? He was right. I ran longer and longer distances each weekend, came home, ate myself into a food coma, and slept all afternoon on the couch. My training plan that first year was very much in the vein of “I run long distances for the worst possible reason: I run to eat.” I have now become one of those people that feels that running for two-three hours is something reasonable to do on a Sunday morning. It can be blissful and sometimes painful, but most of all I find it meditative. Running is where I practice my storytelling for children’s and teen programming; where I think through management issues at work; or just plain daydream about video games, clocks and cooking. Some people practice yoga or meditate. For me, running is a chance to spend a couple of hours alone with my thoughts.
If anyone out there has contemplated running a half- or full-marathon, or starting smaller with a 5K or 10K, here are some library resources to get you started.
See you on May 1st!