I’d love to say that I run for my health. Or to keep my weight in check. Or that I run because I’m great at it. Those are all great reasons to run, but for me the only reason to run has always been to feel that sense of accomplishment when I reach the finish line. I run because I don’t have anyone to compete with, but myself. I run to beat my best time, to add a quarter-mile to my normal routine, or just to show myself I still can.

I began running on a whim. In October 2006 my best friend signed up for a 5K to fulfill a requirement in her college marathon-training class. But she was uneasy about signing up for her first race by herself. So me and a couple of my other friends decided to join her. Sofia ended up finishing the race about 15 minutes before me and my friend Steph, who ran the whole race with me at my pace.

Even though I finished that race with  42 minute time, I was proud of myself for finishing. Prior to that I had never been a runner. As a teenager I was completely opposed to sweating. I was slow and would get discouraged by being passed up all the time. Rather than look like the out-of-shape teen that I was, I took the coward’s route and chose to walk every mile I was ever asked to complete in high school. This way I just looked like a defiant student (like everyone else, I suppose).

But after I ran that first 5K I knew I’d be running for a long time to come. The rush I felt crossing the starting line with that huge group of people, and the pride I felt at crossing the finish line was enough to get me hooked for life. It certainly hasn’t been easy. There have been times when I’ve given up on running for months at a time, but I always go back to it. And last week for the first time ever, as I was running I thought about how much I love to run. To me, that’s worth all the effort I put in every week.

Why do you run?