When I first started running I could barely make it to the end of my street. We lived on a dead end street, and my goal was to run to the sign at the end and call it a day. I would try to go a bit further every time, maybe even making it part of the way back home. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was setting me up for a lifelong journey of miles, pain, heartache, and joy. I was maybe 12 years old, struggling to find where I fit in this world. Although I was in that awkward in between phase, I knew deep down inside that I was capable of so much more. I was working my first summer job at the local baseball concession, and while that was fun and all, I couldn’t help but wonder what else was out there that I could accomplish. For someone who was only 12 years old, I had big ideas, and I was fortunate enough to make the decision to try running which helped open those doors for me.
I touched on my running journey in yesterday’s podcast, so you’ll know that I truly started running (or at least running a bit here, walking a lot there) when I was in highschool. Or rather, that’s when I dabbled in it, as I was almost always the last one back to the gym after our road runs in PE class. No, I was not a talented runner at the time, mostly because I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t believe that I could go further or faster. I thought, “This is it. I can only run for a few minutes at a time, and I should be okay with that.” But as you’ll know, I wasn’t okay with that. Like I said. I wanted more. I truly had the desire to at least TRY and better myself, and that happened through running.
Running is transformative. It has completely changed the way I see life, myself, challenges, triumphs, and setbacks. When one run doesn’t go according to plan, or the way I expect it to anyway, the ones that do stand out tenfold. While training for my first half marathon, I learned about my own independence. I learned that running can be incredibly therapeutic, and sometimes incredibly necessary to just RUN and simply clear my mind. I also learned that I do not need to rely on anyone else to do the job, because I am perfectly capable of completing it myself. Whether I knew it or not, when I took those steps towards the end of my dead end street when I was 12 years old, I was setting myself up to be a stronger, more determined woman.
The funny thing about running is that it can be whatever you want it to be in any given moment. If I need to relieve stress, I can look towards my morning run to help bust through any energy blocks I am feeling or to clear my mind. When I am happy, I can celebrate with a fast run where I feel like I am flying, unstoppable, free. I often talk to my friends, family, and coworkers about running, and I know they ask questions like, “Why do you do it?” because they don’t understand. Yes, I have a love hate relationship with running, and while more often than not it is hard as hell, I come back time and time again because I feel incomplete without it. Running has changed the way I perceive myself and what strength means to me, and although climbing hills and sprinting until I feel like my legs will fall off is undoubtedly difficult, I welcome the challenges. If I didn’t, how would I get stronger? How would I feel alive with my heart pumping so furiously inside my chest? Sure, running leaves me breathless, but it also leaves me better than I was before.
Running has opened doors to opportunities I never thought I would be part of. If you told me 10 years ago that I would be running a full marathon the year I turn 25, I would’ve laughed in your face. “Me? No, I’m not a runner.” I would say between rolls of my eyes. I have been a part of so many races where the energy is buzzing, hundreds (if not thousands) of people are excitedly waiting at the start, and my loved ones are cheering and anxiously waiting for me at the finish line. Looking back, I am so thankful I gave myself a chance. I am thankful that I even dared to try, dared to be better, dared to (literally!) run into new-found confidence and joy for my life. I am not here to be stagnant. I am not here to make excuses for my life and not make the most out of my time here in the world. Running can truly transform your spirit, and you bet I will be running my way through the high times and the low times until I can’t run anymore.
After running my first half marathon