I am writing this letter to proclaim my love to you and thank you for everything you’ve done for me. When I first met you I didn’t like you very much. At first, you made me feel weak, sick, and defeated. But for some reason, despite the pain and discomfort, I kept coming back for more.
You witnessed the first time I was able to run a half mile without stopping, then a full mile, then 3 miles, then 5. The feeling I got when I accomplished a new distance was amazing. I’ll never forget when I was a sophomore at Penn State in 2006, when I was upset and stressed out one night and I decided to run. I have no idea how far I ran because I didn’t have a watch, but it didn’t matter. I was gone for 2 hours and returned feeling like a brand new person.
You stayed by me through thick and thin, through good times and bad. You were there as the college pounds started disappearing and my self-confidence started to improve. You were there when I was student teaching and stressed out of my mind, when I was studying abroad and homesick, when I was sad and missing my mom, when I was hungover and needed to sweat it out, when I had problems I needed to get away from for a while. You never let me down. You were always there, unlike some other people in my life at the time. I was unhappy most of the time and you changed all that.
From there you watched me grow into a more serious runner. I wanted to see what else we could do together. The summer after my junior year of college I signed up for my first half marathon – The Philadelphia Half Marathon. The race that started it all.
My longest training run was 10 miles and I struggled the whole time, doubting myself and why I wanted to run a 13.1 mile race. I ran the race a few weeks later on November 18th, 2007. I finished in 2:02 feeling amazing and couldn’t wait to have more. I set a goal to run the full 26.2 miles the following year.
I graduated the following May, accepted a teaching job in Virginia, and moved there in August. You were there for me when I didn’t know anyone at all. I was lonely and extremely stressed out as a first year teacher. Training for a marathon was a lot to do on top of my teaching responsibilities, but I looked forward to my long run each weekend. It was my chance to escape from the world and relieve my stress, and it also helped me explore my new home.
At first, I knew nothing about training for a marathon. I did tons of research and basically learned as I went through trial and error during my training. There were days that I hated you and days that I loved you. That’s true still to this day. You were there on my terrible training runs that left me frustrated, weak, and in tears. Like my first 20 miler ever 3 weeks before the marathon, that turned into 19 when I literally could not take one more step. But even though we don’t always agree, we always find our way back to each other. You continue to surprise me by giving me another amazing run that makes me feel like I am on top of the world, and I forget all about the bad ones.
I ran the marathon on November 23, 2008 in 4:35:15. It was most difficult and most rewarding experience of my life. But I crossed the finish line knowing for sure that this was it. I needed to do this for the rest of my life.
Somehow I fell so deeply in love with you that my days feel incomplete when we don’t spend some quality time together. I ran a couple more marathons, and with each one you helped me learn more about myself and what I’m capable of accomplishing. I also ended up committing to running a marathon in all 50 states. That’s true love!
We’ve experienced some amazing places together too beyond the United States, like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Costa Rica. Remember that time I ran in the Australian Outback all alone? That was scary and not very safe. Or the time when I ran early morning on the beach in Costa Rica and all I could hear were the sounds of howling monkeys. So many good memories.
Along the way we’ve had other people join us on our runs, and I’ve even gotten a few people to fall for you, too. It feels so good to help other people realize how amazing you are and what you can do for their health, self-esteem, and happiness! You’ve also given me the biggest gift – a husband that loves to run too. Running with him has made us happier and strengthened our relationship in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without you.
I am not the same runner as I was back when we first met – now I’m faster, stronger, a little bit smaller, and I have more fancy gear – but you are the reason I am who I am today. You have made me a happier, healthier, more motivated person.
That is why I wanted to put my love for you permanently on display on my body. I decided to get a tattoo as a symbol for you and how much you mean to me.
This is the same symbol from the races that started it all – my first half and full marathon in Philadelphia – but it’s about more than just those races. It encompasses everything you are and everything you do for me every day. I can’t thank you enough for changing my life, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us in the future.
p.s. I just remembered I wrote a letter to my body back in July! I guess I really like to write letters 🙂