Seven years ago I couldn’t imagine that one day MySpace would be replaced by Facebook, never mind the fact that running would become such a significant part of my life. Seven years ago, I was delirious due to lack of sleep; just trying to keep my eyes open and figure out this new mom role with an almost two month old baby. Because of all of the above reasons, I couldn’t tell you the actual date when I became a runner. (I’m sure I recorded it somewhere on MySpace…)
In other words “Sorry honey, I forgot our anniversary.”
But seven years ago, right around this week (or maybe last?) I had the best/worst run of my entire life. It was the day I became a runner.
Now, seven years ago I wasn’t exactly a stranger to the act of running. I grew up playing soccer, and while I was passionate about the sport, I loathed the days coach would make us run a *gasp* mile. In high school, someone put the grand idea in my head that running track & field would be good cross training for soccer, so I joined the team. I competed in the 100 meter hurdles. Twenty seconds from the start to the finish line was hardly enough time to hate running. So I stuck with the sport, and complained to no end when during practice, coach made us run *gasp* the mile.
Fast forward over the next five years, and I ran probably a handful of times here and there, when I felt that my beer and pizza consumption had more than exceeded its limit, and I should do something to curb the weight gain. Those runs would typically be a mile, maybe two, and I hated them so much I would resign myself to finding another way to stay fit. (I never did).
Moving on to 2005: I ran my first half marathon on zero training. That’s right, no training at all, unless you count the 2 miles I ran on the treadmill in the apartment complex gym three days before the race. (note: I do not recommend this strategy). I finished, but it was horrible. I couldn’t walk for days after, and I still hated running. 8 months later I ran the Army 10 Miler with my sister. Again no training, again I still hated running.
But I loved the atmosphere of races. I loved the idea of becoming a runner. I vowed that I would start training. Except months had passed, and I hadn’t logged any miles. And then I got pregnant.
Which brings us full circle, to November 2006. I was a new mom, completely out of shape, and exhausted (and for what it is worth, a fan of MySpace.) I desperately wanted to feel better, and as the first mom in my young group of friends, vainly wanted to look better too. “Dieting” wasn’t really in my vocabulary, as at the time I was breastfeeding and my appetite was absolutely insatiable, so I reached for what most people assume is the next best thing in the weight loss world: running.
So one fateful afternoon, I fed the baby, put him down for a nap, and declared to his father that “I was going running!” I laced up a pair of beat up Nike Shoxx that had already done their time waiting tables, put on a cotton tee shirt and a pair of shorts, and with determination, stepped out the front door.
What happened next will always play out in my mind as the most horrific mile of my life. It went a little something like this: run 100 yards, start gasping for air, stop and walk for a few minutes. Repeat. This awful pattern continued for one mile, which probably took me around 20 minutes. Defeated and utterly exhausted, I walked back into the front door. My ex started to ask how my run went, but immediately replaced that thought with “you don’t look so good.” And I didn’t feel good either. In fact, I ran to the bathroom and threw up. One. Measly. Mile.
After my stomach temporarily settled I realized that my ankles hurt. Like, “did something bite me?” hurt. I looked down and saw this:
A chafed, bloody, blister on the back of my heel from ONE MILE. In all of my then twenty four years, this was by far the most the most traumatizing run I had ever taken. Even worse than the time in 8th grade when I fell during the voluntary 1 mile turkey trot and flashed my butt to the entire middle school (true story). I had every reason to quit, to find another form of weight loss, to throw my hands in the air and declare “RUNNING SUCKS!” as I had many times before.
But for some reason, unbeknownst to me then and even to this day, I didn’t quit.
I went back out the next day, and the next day, and the day after that. And though each successive run still sucked…each time they sucked slightly less. Eventually at some point weeks later, I found myself looking forward to my running time. I craved the workout, I craved the thirty minutes to myself, I craved that “running sucks” feeling, but most of all, I craved the endorphin rush that came with conquering that “suck”. It was the runner’s high, and I became addicted.
A month and a half later, I ran my first race that I registered for on my own, and ran by myself. A local 10K that I started far too fast, and crashed about three miles in. But I finished. There were no finisher’s medals, and I didn’t even finish in time to get the free Chik-Fil-A they were handing out. But I finished, and all I could think about was “when can I do this again?“
I was a runner.
Of course I was still oblivious to the adventures that lay ahead of me. The incredible highs, the devastating lows, this blog, the opportunities, the friendships, nearing 100 races, and all of the shoes….all because of running. And my hope is that my running relationship has only just begun. This truly is a lifetime sport, and I hope to continue reaching bigger goals, and enjoying miles until my legs won’t take me any further. In the spirit of counting our blessings for Thanksgiving (though we should do this everyday), I am thankful for my relationship with running. I am thankful for my health, and my body that carries me through the miles. But more than anything, I’m so thankful that this time, seven years ago, for whatever reason, I didn’t give up.
Hope touched on this in her blog post, but I want to reiterate: if there is something you’ve dreamt of doing or a change you want to make, START NOW. Whether it is running, CrossFit, fitness in general, or even something not fitness related at all, the time is going to pass regardless, but one year from today (or even seven years), you’ll be so glad that you took that first step. Today.
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”