I have run in some way, shape or form, since I was about 10 years old. I can remember back to my first field day, when I ran the 600 yard dash around a grass oval in 5th grade, to my first 5K, the Riverside Run, at age 12, to my first 1 mile race at Eastern Junior High, when I officially fell in love with the longer distances, to the starting line of my first 2 mile race in high school track, to those challenging cross country courses that I tackled in college, to my first half marathon in Boston, when the thought of running 13 miles was almost unfathomable, to my first run with my older daughter, Rosie, who was 8 at the time and smiled the whole way, all the way up to my 10th marathon that I ran this past fall. But woven through all of those runs are the "other" runs. The unofficial, random, spur of the moment runs. The runs where there was no training involved, no bib number to pin on and there were no awards at the end. For example, I can remember the run I went on when I got dumped by my 10th grade boyfriend (so tragic), or the run I went on the second I got home, after having been benched during a critical high school soccer game because I'd been playing poorly (so pissed), or the run I went with my best friend from growing up after having been waitlisted at the college I wanted to go to (beyond devastated), or the many runs I went on before my wedding when I was stressed to the nines and needed the emotional release (stupidly frazzled), up to the first run I went on with my current running bud, Kirsten, when the floodgates opened and I just started spilling my family issues, regardless of the fact that we were just getting to know each other (desperate to vent). I am a competitive person by nature. I love the rush of a race and the challenge of the training that goes along with it. I thrive on working hard to meet my end goal, whether it be a PR or simply finishing well. But those "other" runs? The ones that were never planned but that I clearly needed more than any race I've ever signed up for? Those are the runs that have mattered the most in my life. The runs that have kept me sane, grounded, happy, even. The runs that helped me get through those painfully awkward teenage years, that brought me to where I am today and will undoubtedly continue to carry me as I get old and grey. Why do I run?