Spring semester my senior year of college (2009), I had stepped onto a treadmill next to my friend Mandie and took my first shot at running. Mandie was always logging miles in the gym, and I remember finding her 1 mile warm up ridiculously impressive.
“I could never run”
That’s what I kept saying. I’d been going to the gym fairly consistently for almost a year, and I was 60 lbs into my weight loss journey, but running was a whole other battle. Scary, intimidating, and, in my mind, for real athletes.
I will never be a real athlete.
That day I set the treadmill to 4.5 miles per hour, and lasted 10 seconds. Literally. I quickly gave up, reassured of what I had always “known”. I can’t run. Somehow a few weeks later I gained the courage to step on the treadmill again. I ran for 2 minutes, walked for 5 and then did it again. From there came .25 mile intervals which honestly killed me. Every time my quarter mile of running was up, I was gasping for air and wanting to die a little.
One day I got on the treadmill, and after .25 mi, I didn’t want to die, and I decided to keep going. When I passed the half mile mark, I knew this would be the day I would run my first mile. The moment the clock ticked off and said 1.00, I stopped the treadmill, sat there in shock and proceeded to text everyone in my phone book.
“I JUST RAN A MILE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!!!!!”
Seriously. The first time. In jr high PE, I walked in the back griping about how I hated exercise. I was last every single time. It’s cool, I was artistic, or something 😉
It’s amazing how one moment can change so much. I feel like in that moment, I truly discovered that I could do anything I put my mind to. Even if I didn’t realize it at the time. I kept going and could some days make 1.5, or once even 2 miles, but I began to feel a lot of pain in my achilles tendons. They’d given me trouble when I was dancing a lot my senior year of high school, and the pain scared me, so as soon as something hurt I stopped, and I was right back to my “I can’t run” mindset. I would very rarely do some intervals on the treadmill, but that was about it. I stuck to the other cardio machines and strength training.
Fast forward to 2011. One day I got on the treadmill and decided to run. I felt the best I had ever felt, so I kept going, and ended up completing my own very first 5K. It was like the moment I ran my first mile all over again. I told everyone. I wanted to shout it from the roof top!! But I was sure it was a one time deal. I went back to intervals, and stuck with that throughout the summer.
Finally, something clicked inside my head, and I made the decision to do something I had always dreamed of, and I signed up for my first 5K. I did a few 3 mile runs outside, and although they were ridiculously hard, I loved the challenge. I bought my garmin (I refer to her lovingly as Garmi. Yes, I named her. You are fine. Stop judging.) and started tracking my progress. The moment I crossed the finish line at the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, I knew I wanted something bigger.
I had always heard about people who ran marathons. It seemed so impossible to me, but ever since I made the decision to get healthy, it had been this dream in the back of my mind. I decided that I needed to do something for me. Just me. My schedule was stacked with two shows and teaching, and I had been out of college for two years. You see, in college my life was all about me. Learning, discovering, and finding myself. Call me narcissistic, but I loved that! Now my life is about what I can give to my students, and call me crazy, but I love that too! I just needed something that was about me. My progress. My journey. And with that, I signed up to run the PF Chang’s RnR AZ 1/2 Marathon.
I looked up a few training plans, and decided to do 2 short mid-week runs (3-4 miles), and add a mile to my long run every weekend. When I started my long run was 3, and I remember not sleeping the night before I had to run 4 because I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to complete it. In fact, the cycle of no sleep due to nerves continued for every single long run throughout my training. Luckily, my friend Kara decided to run the race as well, and I had her there for almost every single training run. As we tackled longer mileage, my confidence started to build, and finally I ran my first double digit long run. Alone. The morning before I hosted Thanksgiving for 20 people.
I completed my training cycle topping out at 12 miles pre race, and I knew I was ready. I crossed the finish line at my first half marathon in 2:13:58 crushing my goal of sub 2:20.
The happiest I’d been since my wedding day. Clearly hooked, I signed up for an other one, and one month later, I crossed the finish line of the super hilly Lost Dutchman 1/2 Marathon in 2:04:59.
Now, I have taken the plunge and registered for my first full marathon. If I could have bet money even a year ago about whether or not that would have happened, I would have bet you everything I own (granted, I do theatre, it’s not much) that there was no way. And then I would be really poor.
I feel like so many of us doubt our abilities and decide things are impossible before we even begin. Every single one of us can do anything, as long as you want to. You have to want it. My achilles still hurt. Many days, they hurt way worse than they used to. So I run 3x a week instead of 4-5. I go to physical therapy continually just to be able to continue. For me, it’s worth it. You don’t have to run to be fit. You just have to find that thing that you love, the thing that fills you with accomplishment, and motivates you, and do that. I found running. The thing I thought I hated the most. And it turns out, I kind of love it.