If you told me five or ten years ago I'd be a runner I'd probably laugh in your face.
My running journey was ignited by a bet a former roommate set. I think I probably gave the same laundry list of excuses I hear today when I ask folks to go for a run. Most people go the modest route and go for a 5K, but a half marathon? Not me. My lifestyle was very different from what it is now. A true example of burning the candle at both ends. I was deejaying, curating events with a good measure of drinking, eating poorly, not getting enough sleep -- I was not the picture of health. I remember my first Saturday long run and how nervous I was. My roommates were about a quarter mile away, laughing and carrying on, while I was dying. Pouring buckets of sweat, suffering from the poor choices I made the night before. Making the transition to becoming a runner wasn't easy but I did sign up and successfully made it through training. It was a week or two out from the race and I asked my roommate if he was excited. He said: "Oh, I'm not doing the race, I did this for you." It was revealed to me that his plan all along was for me to take on the challenge without him. I later convinced another friend of mine to join me on the suicide mission.
The terrain was unforgiving. I remember the last turn before the dash to the finish. Tears streaming down my face. I never felt anything like it. The race truly changed my life. I'm forever chasing that rush of emotion every time I lace up for a run. I go back to that fateful route once a year as a reset as a reminder of how far I've come.
Running has given a lot to me. It truly makes me feel alive. Every run is a lesson in commitment and development, to embrace, to be thankful for the hardships because they allow us to come back stronger. I'm forever grateful for all the people running has brought into my life and the folks that have become my family.
Leandrew Belnavis is the co-captain of the Unnamed Run Crew in Boston. Check him out on Instagram @leandrewunnamed. Lee is wearing the Henry Optic Mesh in Citron (top photo) and Bone.