I do two things when I run… I mediate & then I start thinking. I think about my family, my incredible friends and you guys. I had a lot of time today to do both. And because I love to write, I wanted to share something with you all. Over the past few years I’ve had many conversations with people that say to me “I could never do that…”. Workout, train for a marathon… whatever it is that we’re talking about. Just stop for a moment and think about how powerful those words are… I COULD NEVER. Three simple little words. Apart, they have no impact, together they could derail even the most determined.
I wanted to share my “I could never” phase of my life because, I think we all have go this this phase at some point. My husband and I had just run a 5k. To me, at that point in my life, that was huge. We ran it on a Saturday. I was 20 lbs heavier than I am right now. I was, for the most part, out of shape compared to the version who is sitting here typing this blog entry. But I ran it. I don’t remember our time but it was okay. I didn’t stop and ran it straight through… that was my main goal. I was very proud of myself. This was in late September or early October. The next day, our family went to church and after service the pastor’s wife came and sat down next to me. She’s a good friend of mine and a runner. She congratulated me on the 5k and looked me straight in the eyes and said you’ll be running a marathon next. I laughed and thought she was crazy. My reply… “I could never”.
By Christmas my husband asked me what I would like for my birthday/Christmas (dates are close together) and I asked for a gym membership. My father went to this gym already and had dropped about 40 lbs. He, at 73, is the best physical shape of his life. Bill got it for me and I started going in December. I did a weight lifting class & a body attack class. I hated classes but it was somewhere for me to start. And so I did.
I felt the pain every single day. In fact, I still do. A day doesn’t go by where some muscles in my body don’t hurt. I kept going. 5 days a week, one hour a day. I wasn’t seeing a huge change on the scale but I was with how my clothes were fitting. That past Christmas, a friend of mine got me these awesome premium denim jeans as a thank you for some work I had done for her. They didn’t fit at Christmas. Now April had come and everyone kept commenting to me on how much thinner I was looking. I grabbed the jeans and tried them on and WHACK! They no longer fit. They were huge on me! I couldn’t believe it. I never saw it in myself. I kept seeing that overweight girl and not the metamorphosis that had occurred.
I kept running. Two 5 am runs during the week. One longer run on the weekend. I started to sign up for half marathons. I couldn’t believe it. One and another… I kept doing them. Then it hit me two years after my fitness rebirth… it was October, 2009. I signed up for a marathon. My “I could never” moment shattered. It took everything I had to hit the button to confirm our place in the New Orleans Rock N Roll Marathon…. but I did.
We started training. We did Jeff Galloway’s method of running/walking. We trained that way. It wasn’t a grueling training program, in hindsight, but at the time, it was horribly difficult. I was diagnosed with fibroids in November. This was causing me to have a constant menstrual cycle. Doctors told me to give up the idea of running a marathon and I refused. I finally found one doc to help me. She operated on me 5 weeks before the marathon hoping it would help. It didn’t, which was fine. We kept running. Long runs, short runs. I never stop believing in myself. We kept, and still have, our running schedule tacked up in my husband’s closet. I loved coming home to cross out each run completed. We didn’t start out running 10’s, 15’s and 20’s. It started out with 2 and 3 miles. We built our foundation and kept going.
The marathon arrived and as we stood at the starting corral, I heard the announcer say that today is a celebration of all of the hundreds of miles of training. Something hit me and I burst into tears. I had been so strong the entire 5 months of training and I couldn’t believe we stood on the precipice of this journey. I was excited and frightened beyond belief.
With each mile marker, I would think of one family member or friend. My dad, my girls, my inspiring husband who traveled this journey with me, my friends George and Lauren who constantly inspire me, Katey, my marathon running friend who advised me on so many things, my best friend Stephanie that I’ve known my entire life… each person, each mile… I was so thankful. Then as the dreaded “wall” was approaching, I started praying and praying hard. My stomach was cramping horribly and I felt so ill. My husband stood with me and we started to walk a bit. By 26 I knew it was almost over and I just needed to finish. My goal time had come and gone and I was still remaining proud of running my first marathon. Less than 1% off the population ever runs and completes one. I was among that elite group of people. We finished the race, hand-in-hand as we always do with huge smiles on our faces. The time didn’t matter… the journey and the strength that we built together did. I learned so much. Three weeks later, I had a hysterectomy.
A year and a half later (2011), the NYC marathon was being broadcasted and I had two dear friends running in it. I kept checking their stats on line as we were getting so excited for them to finish. I turned and looked at Bill and said that we need to do another. I’m healthy and I have always felt that I have something to prove to myself. I want to do this again. He smiled and reluctantly agreed.
We started out at mile 2, which felt like a killer. We’ve been increasing each week. No more running and walking. Just running. And a lot of it. It is so hard but so empowering. Our training program has us running 4 days a week plus I go to the gym on my off days. One day of rest, for which I’m so thankful. My “I could never” has been replaced with Of Course I Can! Barring an injuries, we will.
That’s my journey… everyone has one. It simply begins by taking one step out of the door, not making excuses, and believing that you can! Whatever your goal is… you are worth it! You are stronger and more powerful than you know.
— Knead to Cook