Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Oh, hello. Welcome to my life. For the longest time I thought I'd never get to meet you. I thought I didn't deserve you. I thought that you and I just didn't see eye-to-eye.
I thought you would cramp my style. I'm the carefree, adventurous, spontaneous, crazy girl and I didn't understand how much I was missing until - bam! - there you were. I guess I realize that I can still be me even though I've let you enter my life.
Whole and happy,
I have never seen so many fit people congregated in one place in my life! I'm talking abs, and biceps, and carved calves - oh my! And there was all 183 pounds of 5'2'' me, lined up right next to them in my spandex pants and pink Reeboks. But I wasn't concerned about the inevitable jiggle that came with the slow, plodding pace I'd set for myself. I wasn't comparing myself to that girl who actually looked GOOD in those biking shorts that were tight enough to show next year's pimples (ok, maybe I WAS... but only a little). Nope, not me. I was on top of the world.
You see, I was too busy accomplishing something that would have been impossible for me 10 months ago. I was a quarter mile away from finishing a 5k.
10 months ago, I decided I was going to be a runner again. Before I packed on nearly 80 pounds in college and the years following, I had run cross-country. I remembered the feeling of liberation that came from crossing a finish line and the sweet ache of muscles that only came from a run well done. So I laced up my tennies and took myself to a local running trail.
I stretched and looked at the pavement with determination and started what I thought was going to be a two mile, easy, breezy run. After all, I used to run 10 miles with ease. Sure it had been a couple (a few) years - but how hard could it be? Are you laughing yet?
I made it a quarter-mile in before I stopped and burst into panting sobs.
How had I ever let myself get to the point where I couldn't even run a quarter of a mile? When did this happen?
That day was a big wake-up call for me. I can't say that I walked away from that trail with that sense of liberation. I walked away feeling defeated, embarrassed and ashamed of what I'd done to my body. And after a day or two of feeling sorry for myself I realized that I could either decide to change my fitness level by continuing those (somewhat humiliating) runs and eventually get to where I wanted to be, or I could just stop - just stay right where I was - take the easy way out and not try to change because it would be too difficult.
So I set a goal for myself this spring. I decided that I would run a 5k in the early fall (once the hot, humid weather went away). So I kept running, increasing my distance little-by-little. And slowly I began to feel that sense of liberation again. I began to feel the joy of a pair of burning lungs again.
When I moved to the Forks, I stopped running for a little while in favor of rollerblading. My workplace had a free 5K signup and I told a coworker about it. Three weeks later I was forcibly dragged to the starting line, certain I could never make it the full 3.25 miles without stopping.
But I did. And I didn't even throw up at the end. I'd say that's success! I went from a girl who couldn't run .25 miles without crying to one who ran 3.25 miles in 34:23. It feels so amazing to have a commitment come full circle. I certainly didn't cross the finish line first, but I did pass a few runners who slowed down towards the end (hey - I don't care if it WAS a new mom who was running with a baby stroller - I PASSED her). The key phrase is: I finished.
So if you're the one who is struggling right now, if you feel like you don't want to run because you're embarrassed of you fitness level, just know that you CAN get right where you want to be. One day, one jog, one commitment at a time.