Back in 2010 it occurred to me that the 40-year birthday was barreling down life’s highway…despite many wonderful things that fill my life like faith, a supportive husband and family, a job I love, wonderful friendships…I was tired, and I was tired of being heavy.
Back then I didn’t have a regular exercise routine… at all. And, if you’d have asked me about running, I’d have told you, “mark my words: EVEN if I was skinny, I would *never* be a runner.” But I realized something. If you look at longterm runners…you don’t find a single one that is 100+ pounds overweight.
So, looking one year into the future to that 40th birthday that was looming, in the spring of 2010, I decided to give it a shot. I started using the Couch-to-5K (C25K) app on my phone and planning to run a 5K that was part of the Kansas City Marathon in October of that same year.
I felt like I’d signed up for a 100 mile run. There were days I didn’t think I could do it. There were definitely days I didn’t want to do it, but I ran anyway. Some days I ran by myself and many days my good friends Cindy and Kari ran with me, encouraging me… Actually, if you know my friend Kari – she’s not the real touchy-feely-syrupy-sweet type of encourager. Some days it was MOVE YOUR LEGS ALREADY. Kari is so subtle. I love that about her.
I ran up and down my street, the treadmill at the YMCA, around the block, across town… and when I say “running”, just know there was a lot more walking in those early months…a LOT, but I kept pushing because I had told so many people that I was going to run this 5K race in October. I had no choice but to try.
You’d have thought this was a full blown marathon with the crazy support that showed up to run me through the first 5K…Tisha, a college friend who’s stood by me thru thick-and-thin came in from Wichita, and Tracy, another dear friend who owns the gym where I work out and who had initially supported me
by SCREAMING with the encouraging “YOU CAN SO DO THIS!” came in from Minneapolis. Sarah had flown in from Georgia and my sister-in-law, who I love so much, showed up! They didn’t care that it was only 5K – just about the shortest distance run you can do…They all had faith in me even when I still wasn’t so sure myself.
This is April. She drove 4 hours to be there for my first 5K. High school co-hort, partner in crime, maid-of-honor… She believes in me. And together, we all did it… different finishing times, different training methods, different motivators…but we did it! I loved it, and I kept running.
Here’s Tracy and I at the Jingle Bell Run a few months after that…notice our little papercrafty mitten badges that I made to go with our stocking caps and tinsel trim?
Here’s a shot of my daughter and I in the first 5K we ran together the spring of 2011. It was called the Hot Dog 5K. I don’t think running with mom was the motivator for her. My girls love hot dogs…just sayin’…but she did it at 10 years old! I am so proud of her!
And then in May, 2011…two weeks before than dreaded 40th birthday… a longtime running girls group in my town invited me to run with them one day. I was scared and embarrassed. They’d been running for years, and I was so slow. They were patient and encouraging. And, I remember the morning of my 40th birthday we ran 4 miles. I *RAN* 4 miles.
I’d still get tired and frustrated, and I’d call my friend Jen in Fresno, California who does personal training. She’d give me some tips and talk me off of a wall.
And, in July, the running girls told me that we were *ALL* doing this:
And because they believed in me, when I was too naive to know what I was agreeing to, I said ok. I never looked at the training plan. I just showed up each morning that they told me to, and I ran.
4 miles. 5 miles. 6 miles. 7 miles. 8 miles. 9 miles. 10 miles. 11 miles. 12 miles.
And four months later, in October 2011, here we are at the finish line. I ran a half marathon. I ran 13.1 miles without stopping.
Last weekend, I ran The Color Run Kansas City with my sister-in-law, Toni (oh, how I thank God that she agreed to marry my brother so many years ago!) and my running girls.
This is the Happiest 5K on Earth! LOL… I think I still have dye in strange places…
So maybe you are reading this and you want to make changes, but you know running isn’t your thing…ok, so find something that is and stick with it long enough to decide if it really isn’t your thing or if you just need to push past the wall. Every challenge has a wall, and for decades I gave up too soon. I talked myself into thinking ____ will never work for me because _____.
Mark my words, until I was 39 years old and wondering how I would ever set a healthy example for two of the most beautiful pre-teen girls you’ve ever seen, I was NEVER going to be a runner.
I am still slow. I do not have perfect form. I do not wear cute, trendy running clothes. I am not at goal weight.
I can set and accomplish goals for myself. I can improve. I can demonstrate healthy habits for my daughters. I can shop for clothes in a normal clothing store. I can exercise anywhere … NYC, Boston, Chicago, Melbourne, Australia, Seattle, Portland, Dallas, Kansas City, little ole town on the prairie in Midwest America. No special equipment, gym or weather required.
I believe in myself. I was born to run.