I almost forgot, I have a very special anniversary to celebrate this month.
Five years ago something big happened and my life changed forever. A bit melodramatic, yes, but also so very true.
At beginning of January 2008, I wasn’t in a happy place. I was stuck in a town I had outgrown, with a boy who was just as lost as I was, in a job I had no passion for. I wasn’t sure what my next move should be, so I sat on my couch and wallowed. I had put on a good amount of weight after graduation, but I wasn’t aware of just how much until a fateful doctor’s appointment forced me to step on a scale and face the fear I had been ignoring. The number on the scale wasn’t me, the unhappy feeling I felt inside wasn’t me, and the person I saw in the mirror wasn’t me. I couldn’t live like this – I needed a change.
So I made a change. Five years ago this month I put on a pair of running shoes and never looked back. Scratch that, I didn’t put on a pair of running shoes, I put on a pair of regular sneakers I bought sophomore year of college and were practically unused (Florida girls live in flip-flops, not sneakers).
The first runs were terrible; I couldn’t even make it to the end of the street and back without stopping to walk. I was slow and out of shape, but I was determined. I knew nothing about running – nothing. Which is a good thing because that meant there was no added pressure of knowing better either. I wore cotton clothes, the wrong shoes, and ran as far as I could for as long as I could without even a guess to what my pace was or total distance covered. I didn’t know any other runners, so there was no one to compare myself to. It was just me, the road, and my iPod. I’m actually glad I didn’t know about running blogs then, there might have been too much pressure to “do it right” and I might have given up. Not knowing anything in the very beginning was a blessing in disguise. I was proud of my accomplishments because it was all I knew.
A month into running I talked my sister into doing a 5k with me, I didn’t even have a clue of what a 5k was. One of my co-workers knew I was starting to run and told me I should do one. Okay. Why not. The morning of the 5k my sister made me run all the way to the 1 mile marker without stopping – I’m pretty sure that was the first mile I had run without stopping in my entire life. I hated her, but was thankful that she pushed me. We ended up finishing in 30-something minutes. I was on cloud nine all day and was officially addicted to 5ks. I ran a few more in the coming months and was proud of all of them.
(notice the cotton tank top and cotton pants – March 2008)
As my addiction to running blossomed, so did my appreciation for healthy food. I slowly weeded out the junk food in my pantry and replaced it with whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. I educated myself on healthy eating through the internet and started to discover blogs for the first time. The better I felt eating real food, the more I stuck with it.
As the months wore on, I felt awesome. I found a hobby I loved and a reason to get outside and start living life again. Running was giving me a sense of purpose. I was setting goals, working hard to achieve them, and succeeding. I was also losing the weight. In just a few months I had dropped all of my post-college weight and was back to the size I was in high school.
(more cotton – April 2008)
At the end of summer the relationship with my boyfriend at the time had come to an end. I moved back home with my parents, was jobless, and had every reason to go back to square one. But something strange happened. I didn’t curl up in a ball, I was actually excited for a new chapter in my life. I started to set my goals higher. I picked a local 15k and began training for it (or my version of training for it, I still didn’t know what a training plan was at this point – ha!). I found a job in Orlando, moved, and met Caitlin. We were both going through a similar strange transition period, so we clung on to each other and navigated it together.
I felt pretty unstoppable after that 15k and kind of took off with my running obsession. Over the next six months I finally learned what a real training plan was and ran my first half marathon and full marathon. I got a Garmin, bought my first pair of “real” running shoes, and made new running friends. I started blogging about all the new milestones and re-discovered the person I knew I could be.
(my first race not in cotton – Miracle Miles 15k – September 2008)
When Derek and I reconnected in the Fall of ’08 he met a different girl than the one he remembered from college. He met someone who was confident, knew what she wanted, and flat out loved living life. He’s always told me that those qualities were what initially drew him back to me. He always loved my spirit in college, but there was something about the new confidence that he admired. In a weird roundabout way, running brought me my husband.
Running has also given me the chance to grow closer to my younger brother and sister, who have both developed similar passions for the sport. We’ve trained together, raced together, and obsessed together. They challenge me, just as I challenge them, and I’m thankful for that everyday.
Through the years I’ve tried different fitness fad and routines, but nothing has stuck like running has. Running has always been my passion and my one constant in my life. No matter what happens in life, I can always throw on a pair of running shoes and know everything is going to be okay. Running calms me down, lets me think, and always gives me new goals to work for.
Five years later and I’m still a running fiend. I wonder what my 22 year old self would say if she discovered I was still running today. My mom likes to occasionally joke about the fact that I wasn’t a fan of sticking to things when I was a kid. I pretty much dropped everything (soccer, ballet, violin, trumpet, etc.) as soon as she told me I didn’t have to do it anymore. I guess I just never found my passion as a kid. When you find your passion, you stick to it. Running is my passion.
I still can’t believe it’s been five years already. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. Here’s hoping I’m still just as passionate about the sport another five years from now. This has been one hell of a journey and it’s one that’s far from over.