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Staff writer claims victory over inner voice with Carnegie 5K run

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

It starts as a whisper.

“You can do this.”

I shake it off. It gets louder.

“You can't do this.”

It does not matter that just five days ago I finished a 12-mile training run and this morning I am faced with just over three. The starting line of the Carnegie VFD 5K blurs as my eyes lose focus. My mind tells me I cannot do it.

But I run despite the voice – the voice that lurks in the shadows and comes out to taunt me at the least opportune times.

Or perhaps I run to spite the voice – to prove it wrong.

Each runner runs for different reasons. For health, for fitness, for exercise – to feel the burn in your calves and the blood in your veins.

For therapy – the steady rhythmic pounding of feet on pavement is a lullaby for the mind. Some run for competition. Most of us don't. Most of us are competing only against ourselves.

Running is intensely personal. You open yourself to failure. You could come in last. You could not finish. You could get carted off the course by a golf cart because you fell below the minimum pace. It leaves you alone in your own mind, sometimes for hours, depending on your mileage.

At its most basic, running is putting one foot in front of the other. It's a poetic metaphor for life, if you're into that sort of thing: One foot in front of the other – despite the voice saying you can't.

Or, again, to spite the voice. And so I ran.

The rain held off, despite a few warning drops as the starting siren went off, sending nearly 400 runners and walkers off through Carnegie. Old faces back in town. New faces looking for a place to perfect their times. Main Street really is beautiful.

Eventually, the adrenaline mostly drowns out the voice. But it will always resurface. It will resurface Sunday, and loudly, as I rise before the sun to run my first half marathon -- 13.1 miles. How long into the estimated 2.5 hours will it take for the voice to settle? More than 25,000 people, and the only one I'll be competing against is myself.

Another metaphor for life.

Because the voice doesn't surface just before runs. It taunts in meetings, in interviews, and each time a reader does not like what I've written; before I press the button that sends this piece of writing to my editor, who will put it into print for droves to read.

But I do it anyway. Because each time I do, I learn — the voice is wrong.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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