One week from today I will be in Myrtle Beach, getting ready to run my first marathon. Or, you know, "run" my first marathon. Running is funny, and oddly tied into writing. Of course, there are books like What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (no, I haven't read it) and blogs like Literary Legs, but mostly, what I mean is, there seem to be a lot of characters whose running is supposed to symbolize something. I'm just not often sure what.
I have done this. In my first real attempt at a manuscript, the main character picked up running when she left her city life (or rather, was forced out) to move back home in a deserted beach resort town. When I wrote those first 20K words (which is all there is), I wasn't a runner. I wanted to be, and I think I thought that I could write my way into the motivation needed. I also think that by making Sydney a runner, and better yet, a new runner, it would tell the reader a lot about her.
In my first completed manuscript, I made one of the main characters an athlete who runs on the beach every morning. But Allie's running isn't meant to signify much, except for her very real need for some breathing room from a suffocating family (and plus, Allie's kind of based on someone anyway, and that someone did run on the beach every day--an act I was always in awe of). So I think it works, but then, I'm a little biased.
I fell in like with running last spring, on a treadmill where I could play Usher's "Yeah!" on repeat and distract myself from the pain. I fell in love with running last fall, when I moved from the gym to the hard, flat path along the Hudson, where the city skyline is just a stone's throw away and the sun glints off the river and temporarily blinds me. I even sometimes run with my eyes closed; it relaxes me. But I don't kid myself; I will barely survive Myrtle Beach, and I probably won't get back to my normal running schedule until the weather warms up some more. That is, if it ever does.