Falling in Love with Running

andrea slovakia
Andrea Hudak

For a long time I wanted to be a runner. It seemed freeing. There was a man in my hometown who was a marathon runner. I watched him take off for his run daily, and admired him when I was a child.

I grew up as a complainer, and although I loved the outdoors and many sports, there was always a reason (now I know, an excuse) why I didn’t run. My feet were too flat, my breasts too large, I “didn’t have a runner’s body,” it was too hard, I didn’t like sunny or rainy days, the shoes hurt my feet, I would sweat too much and so on… 

I kept thinking that my relationship with running was just an affair. We were on and off for few years. Until about 3 years ago.

I was looking for an escape and the way to deal mostly with myself (and others) without medications. I started walking and eventually running up a small but steep hill early in the mornings before work. In a few short months I conquered many things that I didn’t enjoy: hills, heat and bugs. And the runs got easier. There was no one to judge how I looked. Only myself. The woods didn’t care if I sweat, took a break to catch my breath, cried or laughed. I found peace. The view was beautiful and I felt accomplished. I felt rejuvenated. I found a new me.

That year I ran on the roads too. My friend introduced me to the local Thursday Fun Runs. They are free and attract children as well as adults. There are no rewards for adults (popsicles and watermelon for the kids). The results are posted in the local paper. It was great to come out and run for fun, to see other people enjoying running as much as I did. I realized that in the past, I cared about what others would say. Now I was happy to see everyone running, both the sinewy girls on the cross country team who came in minutes ahead of me, and the last few people who crossed the line; they were all my inspiration and a little piece of joy to watch.

Over the years I have become the person who runs for herself. Because I like to. Because it helps me overcome whatever I find difficult in life. Running has taught me self-discipline. It challenged me in ways that I never thought possible. I no longer feel that I have anything to prove. To myself or others. I run because I want to.

Last year, I signed up for a virtual 1,000 mile challenge. To encourage myself, to connect with those who like running and to reward myself with a medal and a t-shirt. I ended up running/walking over 1,300 miles.

Over the last 3 years I got to take a part in events that filled my soul with joy: Color Run, RAGNAR Adirondacks, Saranac Lake 6er Relay, Lake Placid Classic Half Marathon and 10K. The best event of last year was a 6/12/24/48 hour ultra in Dorset, VT put on by Northeast Trail Runs. I signed up for the 24 hr event. It was my 1st Ultra. I only told my husband and one friend. I was excited and liked the convenience of a 0.87 mile loop held on a small farm. I wanted to do this for myself. I packed 3 pairs of shoes that I switched every few hours to prevent blisters. I had a plan and it worked. I ran/walked 4-5 miles every hour, made sure to rest and refuel every hour and enjoyed myself. I finished 50 miles in under 11 hrs and drove home to be with my family that night. It was amazing. I was happy and proud. 

Over the years, I became a runner. Maybe not a runner who will win many, if any races, but a strong one. One that can endure. But only when and if she wants to. I had some bad running days. And I had some that I will never forget. I have learned a lot about myself as well as about the sport of running. I learned that I love trails. I like running uphill and enjoy the view from the mountains. And I really enjoy running downhill! I learned that good apparel/equipment is important. Wear what makes you comfortable even if it doesn’t look great. No one really cares. And if they do, well, let them deal with it. I wear a special band that helps keep my 34DDD breasts in place when running. After many pairs of shoes, I know that my feet do much better in wide shoes. I know that I do not like gray shoes. They never inspire me to run. So, I buy colorful shoes.

My car is always packed with extra running shoes (spikes and running snowshoes in the winter) and clothes just in case that I decide to adventure. I have spare batteries/headlamps, electrolyte tablets/protein bars in my bag that I bring to work with me. I enjoy running by myself as well as with others. What makes me the happiest is to introduce someone to the joy of walking or running and to get people outdoors. I take pictures when running or hiking so I can share them with others.

This year, I got my husband into running. We signed up to complete 2019 miles in 2019. With my running, I also started a fundraiser to support those seeking addiction/recovery services at a facility that I work at. This money will help scholarship those that cannot afford the treatment they need. I also hope to focus on stretching, strengthening, mindfulness and nutrition. My ultimate dream is to connect my passion for running, writing/photography and traveling. I hope to travel and run to the Scottish Highlands in May of 2020. 

My advice is to run for joy. To free your mind and strengthen your body. I was so proud of myself for not getting injured last year. I learned how to run/walk through four seasons. The scenery of the Adirondacks makes the running/hiking and adventuring so rewarding. Take a break, listen to your body. Sign up for fun races, invite a friend, get into the woods and remain mindful. Enjoy the moment. Nourish your body and don’t forget to pamper your feet. Find shoes that you like. I used to run up the hill, give thanks for to the Adirondacks and it’s people for having me, turn around and run back. Someone asked me why I don’t enjoy the view, so now I take few moments and enjoy the view. A colleague of mine told me that I am an inspiration. Those words gave me so much energy and positive outlook. Another person told me that they were as passionate about another sport as I am about running. This person was right, running became my passion and I love sharing it with others.

Andrea Hudak

Andrea Hudak

I was born and grew up in Slovakia. I came to Lake Placid in 2004 on J1 Visa through Work and Travel USA. I worked in restaurant and hotel business over the summer which was my major in high school. I fell in love with Lake Placid (the mountains, the lakes, the people). Went back home, graduated college (bachelor degree in journalism) and returned to the Adirondacks. I met my husband in 2005 and we decided to reside in Lake Placid for a little bit. Well, that turned into 14 years. I obtained associate degree in Sport and Events management but ended up in health care industry. Giving back and caring for others was always important to me. My parents were big outdoor enthusiasts and influenced my pursue of athletic/sport events, traveling adventures, etc. Until today, they both hike and bike in their free time.

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