Running into my Own Arms



As someone who is unfamiliar with the concept of fitness, a dream of mine has always been to run a marathon. I’ve never been the athletic type, but still I dreamed. When my friend (who has been a competitive runner since high school) and I started running together, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to dive into the deep end and sign up for a half marathon.

The soonest race was the My Better Half Marathon put on by Orca Running. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, participants were required to join a love-themed category. My friend and I ended up in the Lonely Hearts Club. Our numbered bibs were black, which I think probably says something about how our society views single people (people in the lovers’ category had nice red bibs I believe) and we had the option of checking off what we were looking for. The choices were love, fun and chaos. Obviously, we checked all three.

The race date came much faster than I anticipated. I made a running schedule, but with the shit-show that is winter quarter, my training routine quickly fell to the wayside. Before I knew it, Feb. 11 had arrived and we were en route to Seward Park at 7 am on the Sunday before Valentine’s Day.

We took off running at 8 a.m., and as you would expect for people who don’t run often enough, I had a rough start. I made my friend go ahead so she could run at her own (faster) pace while I worked to simply finish.


Runners gather at Seward Park for the My Better Half Marathon

Let me tell you—13 miles is way farther than you think it is. And being alone with yourself, the silence and your screaming body for that distance is a trip. During those three hours I had a lot of time to reflect and think about why I was participating in this crazy event. As couples ran by me holding hands (which seems like a highly unpleasant thing to do while running), I thought about my relationships past and present with friends and with partners, about what it means to love and to be loved, about strength and pain and a great deal of other cheesy topics we all inevitably think about near Valentine’s Day.

I’ve been single for almost two years, and happily so. But you know how it is, we all get lonely sometimes, especially when it feels as though everyone you know is happily in love. Being alone during those 13 miles can really mess with you.

In addition to feeling as though my body was going to give up on me, I saw couple after couple running together, supporting each other, switching headphones when one person’s didn’t work and other gushy behaviors. Some people were even handcuffed to each other (though that sounds terrible to me).


Runner shows medal and photobooth strip from My Better Half Half Marathon.

Funny enough, running in a marathon is quite possibly the least romantic or sexy thing I’ve ever been a part of. Those miles took everything I had, and afterward the only thing I wanted to do was sleep for the rest of my life. I was drenched in sweat and very close to having a full meltdown. This was something I did for myself, and it actually made me happy to not be in any type of romantic relationship.

Not to get too cheesy, but running this race really made me evaluate my relationship with myself. It’s really easy to focus solely on your flaws day to day, and I’ve noticed that my friends and I often use a lot of self- deprecating language and humor. It often seems funny at the time, but it becomes difficult to draw the line between jokes and reality. Most of the people I know and love don’t see how wonderful they really are, and I know that I could be much nicer to myself as well.

The completion of this race was my doing. I had to utilize mental strength that I didn’t even know was there, and support myself despite wanting to quit half a dozen times. Running this marathon highlighted how negative I usually am in conversations with myself, and proved that I am capable of achieving anything I put my mind to.

If anything, running this half marathon taught me that I’m stronger than I think, which is something I think we should all keep in mind this Valentine’s Day. This is a day about love. Even if you’re single, remember to care not only for those you love, including yourself.

Rachel may be reached at
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