And I Still Run

I have not always been an athlete. I started as a chunky kid. I carried 180 pounds on my 5’4” frame for most of college and throughout graduate school. I tried diet after diet, but eventually assumed that this was just how I was built to be.

As my 30th birthday approached, I decided to try something new. Rather than seeing how little I could eat, I committed to see how strong I could be. I started working out with a personal trainer in earnest and gave Weight Watchers one more try.

One day at the gym, I saw an ad for Team in Training at the back of a magazine. I’d heard of the program before, and admired their mission to use endurance races as a way to raise funds to cure Leukemia and Lymphoma. But, quite frankly, I had no interest in running. I could never understand why anyone would CHOOSE to run around the block, much less for 26.2 miles. But for some reason, this time the ad caught my eye and stuck with me. If I was trying to see how strong I could be, why not try to do something that I never thought that I would be able to do?

I attended an introductory meeting and signed up for the 2006 Nike Marathon for Women’s Cancers in San Francisco. Over the next 4 months, I trained with the team twice a week, in addition to my solo workouts. I planned a wedding, dropped 5 dress sizes, got married, went on my honeymoon, came back to training and finished the race in a grueling 5 hours and 24 minutes.

I won’t lie —it was NOT love at first sight. The last 5 miles of the race were pure HELL. I went from the elation of finishing a four month long journey to quietly (and then loudly) cursing everyone and everything around me. But I crossed the finish line. I looked like hell, I felt even worse, but I finished.

Before I knew it, I was hooked. In less than 6 weeks, I had signed up for my next marathon with Team in Training. Over the past 7 years, I have run 4 full and 5 half marathons, delivered 2 babies and crossed the finish line at the San Diego Marathon in 2010 with both boys in the double stroller. Running has changed my body, for sure. But more importantly it has changed my mind—my self-image, self-esteem, and perception of what I am and am not capable of doing. When I run, I feel invincible. There is nothing the day can throw my way that I can’t handle, and nothing cures the drama of a bad day like a long run.