July 7, 2011: Shannon Downey

July 7, 2011: Shannon Downey

I went for a run today.

I realize that to most people, that is a wildly anticlimactic statement. For me, it’s proof of what’s possible. Until last week I mocked runners. What could possibly be enjoyable about running? I mean really, any exercise that requires you to put Band-Aids on your nipples and Vaseline on your junk gets filed in my “no thanks” category.

The thing is, I’m a Gemini, which makes me both impulsive and  prone to believe I can do anything. This combination has led to some of my greatest successes and is equally responsible for my most glorious failures. It is also the reason I end up doing things that I probably have no business doing.

My latest challenge is unlike any other because it’s a physical challenge. A friend said, “Hey, we should do this competition called Tough Mudder.” I said yes, signed up, and then explored their website. Wrong order!  But as a good teammate and someone who does not want to embarrass themselves too badly, I started training.

Today, that included going for the longest run of my life. 3.5 miles, to be exact. While it was hard, I found it decently enjoyable. The weather was perfect and I had a friend to distract and coach me.

The part that was enlightening for me, though, was how in just doing something different and challenging, my perspective changed so completely.  I was proud of pushing myself physically.  I felt like a damn champion at the end of that run!

I also got to see a side of Chicago that I have never seen before. Getting out of the car and getting off my usual paths led to some amazing discoveries about my neighborhood.  I saw a deer for goodness sake!

It was one of those moments in life when something seemingly trivial becomes something liberating  and insightful. Whether or not I die doing Tough Mudder remains to be seen, but I’m thinking that right now, my impulsiveness and superwoman complex has led me to another epic win.


About the author: Shannon Downey is a runner.  She is also incessantly chatty @ShannonDowney @IKnowChicago

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    Good luck in your challenge! You need one of those "I run this city" shirts :)

  • I'm a little late on this, Shannon. But nice work!

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