I ran my first race today. A five-miler in Central Park. It was for charity, to benefit brain cancer research. (Don’t worry. I have not nor has anyone in my family been diagnosed with brain cancer or anything else since we broke up. I just wanted to run a race, I didn’t have any particular affinity to the charity. Though it is a good cause. I’m glad my money went to funding something good. I’m not a terrible person.)
I have you to thank for giving me the motivation to do it. Not that finishing a five-mile race is that much to get excited about. I mean, it is only five mile. The motivation is more about having found a new hobby and stuck with it.
I started running pretty regularly when you broke up with me. I admit that I originally took it up to prove something to you, to shed some pounds and tone up again in hopes that you’d feel some regret over ending things.
I’m one of those people who let themselves go a bit when in a relationship. It got hard to make time for working out when I also had to make time for actual work and for you. I know I’d gained like fifteen pounds over the course of our year and a half together. It never really showed, though, or at least that’s the lie I tell myself. Now that I’ve trimmed back down I’m not seeing a ton of places where the old weight has disappeared. Maybe in my thighs. You probably wouldn’t even notice the change if you saw me.
But back to thanking you. I knew that eventually my spite-driven motivation would wear off. Then I’d need something else to get me up and out running every day. So I decided to sign up for a race. My first of many, I hope. I picked a shorter distance, but I plan to expand up to a half-marathon at some point next year. I don’t think my legs have it in them to go a full twenty-six. Or maybe it’s my brain that can’t handle it. Either way, I don’t think I’ll run a full marathon anytime soon.
When I was out on the course today, I didn’t have any music. I wanted to make sure I kept my focus on the race itself. Instead I thought about you – only for a bit. I used to think about you a lot when I ran. Not so much anymore. But when we first broke up it consumed me. In a good way. It pushed me forward, made the miles and minutes slip away.
Now that I’m moving on, I think about other things – the prospect of meeting that next special guy, the fantasy of winning some major award or getting a crazy promotion at work, of meeting and becoming best friends with one of my celebrity crushes. I also reminisce on high school and the races I ran then. Basically anything that I can imagine myself winning at.
Winning motivates me, especially the fantastic kind that would never happen in real life. When we were still dating I had this whole scenario mapped out where I won an Academy Award (I know, impossible considering I don’t do anything remotely involved with the movie business) and you were there in the audience with me and so supportive and proud when I walked up to the stage and gave my speech, thanking you in the first line. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it really does make me run faster. And the best thing about that Academy Award ceremony wasn’t winning the award, it was having you there to support me. Having you to make proud.
You were always so supportive, to me and to your friends. We went to that little one-man show your friend put on, in that tiny coffee shop that doubled as a performance space. You always listened to your roommate’s web series scripts, trying to give him helpful notes even though he never listens to anyone’s ideas but his own. You even went all the way out to Brooklyn on a very early Sunday morning (made even more grueling by the fact that you’d been out until 4AM the night before) to watch one of your friends run the Brooklyn half-marathon. You were there at the start and then saw him once when he ran through Prospect Park. Then you were at the finish line to cheer him on and head back to Manhattan with him. That’s a very early and big trip to make to see someone all of three times over the course of a two-hour race. But you were always willing to give of yourself to support those you cared about. It’s such an attractive quality you possess.
If we were still dating, you would have come out and cheered for me this morning. And I would have loved it. That’s where boyfriends are better than friends. Boyfriends support you no matter what. Most friends only come when it’s convenient.
No one came out to cheer for me this morning. Not a single one of my friends. I didn’t expect them to show up. It was an 8:30 race on a Sunday morning. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed not to hear anyone cheering for me, to know that there wouldn’t be any of those little bumps of adrenaline from spying a familiar face around the corner to give me a spurt of speed, no cute and witty signs, no one there at the finish line to cheer me in on my final sprint.
It was kind of a lonely morning, actually. Getting up early and making my way out to Central Park by myself, warming-up and stretching by myself, the five miles I ran, all the time in my own head, polishing off my complimentary bagel and apple at the end of the race and then watching other people finishing for a bit, again all by myself. I even had to take my own post-race picture, proof that I had indeed finished. I couldn’t get the camera far enough back to get both my head and my race number in the shot so I had to take off my shirt and hold the number up. I looked like one of those selfie-obsessed morons.
My parents didn’t even answer the phone when I called to tell them how the race had gone. They were at church, but still. Accomplishing something, even minor, really sucks when you don’t have someone to share the excitement with. You were that person I always shared those little victories with, whether they be “good jobs” at the office or making a delicious cake.
I know that I’ll eventually find someone new to date, someone new to share all of these things with. But in the meantime I miss having you there. I miss the way your eyes lit up and the genuine smile you’d get on your face when I surprised you with some piece of good news from my day, some small or big victory I had accomplished.
And I miss having you to root for. I miss getting to be excited about your successes. Even though we’ve been broken up for three months now, I still do wish you the best, career-wise and personally. I want you to succeed in life. You’re a great guy and you deserve it.
But anyways, I just wanted to thank you for giving me the motivation to keep running. And I hope that you are kicking ass in life, even though you’re kicking it without me now.