January 2013 - I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.
If someone had told me less than 2 years later I would be running in races, I would have laughed in their face. A mere 9 months later, I did my first 5K. I didn't run all of it. But I did run a good amount of it. With the help of my friend Kira. And when I finished in 35 minutes, I remember being so excited and proud of myself for even having the guts to try to run a race. After all, I had just started running in June. And I'm not even sure I would call what I started doing at that time running. But, I was doing more than walking so, we'll go with running. A couple of weeks later, I succeeded in doing a run/walk in my first 10K. I'm still not sure why I thought a 10K was a good idea at that point but, hey, at least I finished it! And it was a good challenge.
Fast forward to April of this year. My weight loss had pretty much stopped but I was working on building up my ability to run. Winter was particularly brutal last year so I hadn't really gotten outside to run. I signed up for a 5K in mid-April about 2 weeks before it happened. My goal was to run the whole thing but I wasn't sure I would be able to. Physically I knew I could. But, for me, running is completely mental. I often stop and walk just because I can. Not because I don't have the ability to keep going. So, when I crossed the finish line of this race and had run the whole thing (in 32 minutes, no less), I was ecstatic. Talk about accomplishing something you never thought would be possible in your lifetime. Running 3.1 miles? Who knew?
I did another 10K a few weeks later and while I knew I wouldn't run the whole thing, I did have a goal of finishing in under an hour and 15 minutes (my time from October). I finished in an hour and 5 minutes! My only thought? What is happening? When did I start running, setting goals and accomplishing them?
I kept running over the summer but definitely had some other struggles that I dealt with (in good and bad ways). So, when I did a 10K in August, I actually wasn't surprised that my time wasn't as good as it was in May. I was tired, had a lot on my mind and just not overly motivated to run a race. I needed to work on my mindset if I was going to keep setting and accomplishing goals.
Fast forward a few weeks and, after a butt kicking and doing a lot of soul searching, I made some decisions to start doing things for myself. I'm still completely figuring out what that looks like. But, I'm getting there. In the meantime, I decided to focus on a fitness goal. Something I knew how to do. I remembered hearing about a 4 mile race in the middle of October. But, I never like to do anything by myself. Plus it's fun to have people to hang out at the start line with and meet up with at the finish. So, I convinced two of my friends to do it with me. As the next few weeks went by, I tried to get out running 2-3 times a week. Sometimes I was able to go about 3 miles without stopping. Sometimes the mental piece got the best of me. And the hills. But, I wasn't going to back out of the race. And, in the back of my mind, I still wanted to try to run the whole thing. But, of course I didn't have a whole lot of confidence in myself. I just kept working towards it and figured I would give it my best shot.
10/11/14: Luckily, the weather cooperated and it was actually really good running weather. Sun wasn't really out for most of the race, no rain, etc. Standing at the start line I learned that the first 2 miles would be a lot of hills. After learning that I thought, there's no way I'll be able to run this whole thing. Hills always get the best of me. But, I just started running. And, I was okay with having the first two miles be slower than I was used to because of all the hills. (For anyone familiar with Cincy or the Pig, imagine starting a race running through Eden Park and up the hill by Krohn Conservatory, among other hills). As I turned around at the 2 mile mark, I realized I would now be running down hill. Yay! Maybe I could actually do this. I just kept going. And, once I got to mile 3, I thought, I have to keep going. I will be so mad at myself if I stop now. So, I kept going. And there were more down hill parts, which helped. I saw the finish line in the distance and finally knew I could do it. And the closer I got, the faster I tried to go. I just smiled as I crossed the finish line. I seriously think I was in shock. I still am. I posted it on Facebook and more than 80 people have liked it - What?!?! Never expected that. I just don't think that highly of myself. Reading the comments just made me even prouder of myself. And, as I started to process what I had done, I just got happier.
It may seem crazy, I mean it's just 4 miles. But, for me, that was like finishing a half marathon. If you've never struggled with weight, being active, being fit or just health in general, it might be hard to imagine what it feels like to experience these types of accomplishments. It's surreal. When I look in the mirror I often still see the person that I saw a couple of years ago. But, if I look real close, I can see another piece of me emerging. One with a little confidence, happiness and the ability to accomplish what I set my mind to attempt.
Deciding to try is 90% of the battle with anything. Living life is a process that evolves every day. Realizing you're capable of more than you ever thought possible, well, that takes a little getting used to. And it's the greatest feeling in the world.