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Publisher’s view: Pushing the limits

Ashley Sexton Gordon. Photo by Jeannie Frey Rhodes.

I’ve never experienced a runner’s high. Never. I’ve read about them, and I’ve overheard racers wax poetic about that stage of euphoric bliss that keeps their treads pounding the pavement while their brains pump them full of enough endorphins so they forget their death wish that includes Body Glide and Gu. But I’ve never experienced this elusive high because I’ve rarely pushed myself past the three-mile drudge I chalk up to necessary exercise and torment.

The runner’s high must happen in the higher miles. Meanwhile, back in the one- to three-mile drudge, every step I take feels like it must be my last. Just make it to the stop sign. The last curve in the road. The end of the song. Every step I take is a shuffle of hate.

That’s why, when my 13-year-old daughter mentioned that maybe, one day, we could run a half-marathon together, I almost lost control of my steering wheel and hit a jogger (this city is full of them!). A half-marathon is 13 miles, people. No way this slug would make it.

“I could run your speed, Mom,” she said.

Translated: She loves me. She would shorten her stride and let go of her competitive nature for me. She would run with a slug. There is no greater love than that, especially coming from an athletic, competitive teen. I know this to be true. I live in a house full of athletes who like to push the limits of normal, and they love leaving slugs in their wake. My husband has run many marathons, and I’ve spent most of our married lives watching him train and cheering from the sidelines. The sidelines are quite comfortable, in fact, and they don’t induce wheezing, nausea or calf cramps.

“I think that’s a great idea,” I choked out, because I’m scared to death of being uncomfortable. “Let’s wait a few years and do it when you are in high school.”

This gives me enough time to start training now.

I have many friends who do these races, and I’ve never—no, never—wanted to race with them. Never. I’m so proud of them, I really am. But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m not a great runner. Since I’ve attended so many races, I’ve perfected my “I’m never going to run more than a 5K.” “Racing is just not me.” “I’m so proud of you. Let’s find the beer tent.”

The whole world seems to be running, and racing and training. It’s beyond belief. When I wanted to bond with my mom as a teen, I didn’t ask her to break out her sneakers. I asked her to break into the pantry for baking supplies. And I’m pretty sure that my grandmother has never broken a sweat.

So I am beyond thrilled that my daughter even considers me race worthy. She’s the only one I would ever do this for. But racing is going to take years of planning. I’m shooting for 2021. And I’m expecting to finally hit that elusive runner’s high.