I have been thinking so much lately about how running and me came to be. At the time, we were honestly such an unlikely match. A 23 year old young woman trying to stand on her own two feet in Washington, DC with a new boyfriend (he was great, I married him) and a new job (it was great, I met amazing friends-for-life and learned a ton!), but stuck in old habits that weren’t healthy or making her happy: I smoked (probably close to a pack of cigarettes a day), drank alcohol nearly every night of the week (whether a glass of wine or beer with dinner or going out til the wee hours of the morning on the weekends with my friends), drank way more diet soda than I did water, probably ate more canned veggies and packaged foods than I did anything fresh, and really did not exercise at all, at least not with any consistency
I have always been an optimist, its in my nature to see the bright side, but at 42 years old now I acknowledge that it was oftentimes a forced optimism for a long time in my life. I tried to keep a smile on my face even when my heart was heavy because I never wanted to burden others with my sadness or problems. It has taken me YEARS of life and growing pains to undo this pattern and allow myself to not only FEEL my blues or disappointment or anything considered “negative,” but also to express them and move through them in healthy ways.
Anyway, I had enough of this lifestyle and the way it was making me feel about myself. A couple of high school friends were doing the Nashville marathon and I was intrigued. I bought a book and read it cover-to-cover (How to Train for and Run Your Best Marathon by Gordon Bakoulis-Bloch). The training method in this book was focused on running minutes not miles and that sounded do-able to me. I picked the plan for beginners, mapped it out and jumped right in. I quit smoking cold-turkey that day. My first run was 20 minutes long and I kid you not, I thought I might die. I did’t have a Garmin to calculate my paces but I do know that I was not able to run the whole 20 minutes and I didn’t make it too much farther than a mile that day. I was in southwest Florida (Sanibel) visiting my family. It was late April, so it was HOT and sunny. It felt impossible and it felt miserable.
I came home exhausted and also excited. I remember my sisters and parents absolutely thinking I was crazy and feeling sorry for me. They did not think this would stick. I recall my sister Kamie (who is always pretty straight-forward with what she thinks and feels, a trait I admire tremendously. Even though sometimes her perspectives can sting she usually has a point!) telling me she believed in me but that she was also worried that I would get hurt or fail and then feel even worse about myself. Her concerns were valid but I remember thinking I had reached a point of desperation – my mental/emotional health and my self-confidence were at an all-time low when other areas of my life were going well. The changes I needed in my life to feel better were changes that had to come from within. I knew there were no magic bullets but this felt like something I could do for me.
It just made sense even when it didn’t.
And it still does.