Diary of a Newbie Runner: Run Like a Snake is Chasing You… Because One Just Might Be

{By Ellery Sadler}

I was in pain. Serious pain. Like knife-stabbing-into-my-side kind of pain; the pain that usually grips my side sometime during my runs. But I, like the amazing Amazon girl that I am, keep running… or hobbling… in spite of this small disturbance. I am above pain. I keep running with the speed of the Kenyan marathoner.
Just kidding, I’m not that brave. When I start hobbling, I usually take a break and walk for a few minutes, feeling sorry for myself and wishing I had never started to run in the first place. Which is what I was doing, oblivious to everything but the ache in my side, when Brittany screamed “SNAKE!”  and I jumped two feet in the air. Sure enough, wriggling in its evil way was a snake on the road ahead of us. Hailey and I ran over to it, and saw that it was only a black snake. Brittany did not share our eagerness, “What are you guys doing?? Don’t get so close!” I assured her that black snakes don’t bite. Hailey said they do, they just aren’t poisonous. Intrigued by this theory, I inched closer. The snake reared its hideous head back and prepared to strike; I prepared to scramble backwards as efficiently as possible. In the process, my dear sister, Hailey, shoved me closer (she claims she was trying to help me get out of the way) but despite this base betrayal, I leapt out of the way, and evil-itself-in-snake’s-clothing passed into the grass. And I continued on my way, unharmed.
Running is like barley green. Barley green is a nasty, green-tasting powder that is good for you. Running is a painful, hot way to exercise that is also good for you. It just doesn’t feel like it when a snake tries to bite you, your head is pounding because you slept in and now it’s hot out, and the cramp in your side is killing you. But yes, it is good for you. Builds character. Also builds dread…. dread of ever running again.
We headed back towards the house to finish our 5 mile loop. It was hot. I felt like I was bent double; trying lamely to run along with a pain in my side and a sore ankle. Now, to keep my courage up, (and running takes a lot of courage) I tell myself things like “You can do it.” “Keep it up.” And the one that I use most often: “If a marine can fight in Afghanistan, you can run 5 miles. Now do it.” So I remember the soldiers and believe that I can sympathize with some of their pain. After all, I’ve run 5 miles with a snake practically chasing me.
And then comes the best part. Paradise, also known as the end the run and a swim in a cold pool. Yes, my life is good. Yes, running makes me feel like I’m crazy to be doing this on purpose. But at the end of the run, when I can see our house in the distance, I feel like I’ve conquered the world. And I decide to do it all over again tomorrow.
So if you are going to run, be ready for the pain, the heartache, the glory, the addiction. Oh, and be ready for the snakes.