2 years ago today I started running. I remember I hadn't slept the night before and I was sitting in my bed, scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw all the things my friends were doing. They were living on their own, pursuing their art or chosen career's, falling in love, and being fearless. I felt stuck. I was in this pause and I wasn't sure how to get out of it. I reached for a photo album of me and my brother I kept next to my bed and I started to flip through the photos. I felt like I was wasting precious time. Time I could be spending out becoming whatever it was that I wanted to be. Becoming this woman I had convinced everyone I was.
I missed my brother. I often think of all the things my brother didn't get to do. The loves he didn't get to have. The fights or laughs we missed. I think of the traveling we didn't get to do together and the adventures missed. And I started to panic. I normally went to the gym whenever I started to feel anxious or grief. It was an outlet that helped me categorize my hurt because it helped me think more clearly. But the gym was closed for Thanksgiving. The sun was just beginning to rise and I thought about going for a run. I swung myself out of bed, put on my clothes and I took off. 2 minutes in I had to stop to walk. I was breathing heavily and couldn't catch my breath. But once I did I ran a little more. Then I'd stop to walk. It took me an hour and a half to walk and run 3 miles.
Yesterday I did that in less than 30 minutes. I wish I could tell you that running was fun for me. I wish I could tell you that sticking with it was easy and that it was incredible. It wasn't. It was awful. I was often huffing and puffing. I was always sore. I was really slow. But I had something to do. I didn't really have a goal in the first few weeks, I just ran because it gave me something to do with the buckets of free time I would normally spend on a couch watching Real Housewives of whatever city. And feeling pain that I knew would help me get stronger made sense to me. But that day when I was able to run a few miles without stopping, things started clicking into gear. I decided I was going to train for a half marathon. I went online and decided I was going to run the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in June of the following year. All of the articles I read said the same thing, that it takes months to train for a half marathon. I had 7 so I felt like that was the perfect amount of time to become a runner.
I ended up running my first half marathon 2 months after I started running. I was in Hawaii on a vacation when my best friend Irene called me. She asked me if I wanted to run a half with her at Disneyland the Sunday of my return. I told her I couldn't do that, I wasn't ready. She told me I could always walk if I needed to but that there's no such thing as ready. To help me feel better she told me to run the next day for 2 hours and see what happens. So the next day while my best friend Raven and her fiancé Tom had a romantic sunset dinner alone, I went for a run. I ran around our resort 2 times and ran 11 miles in 2 hours. I did 10 minute and 58 second miles on average. I took a screenshot of my RunKeeper run and sent it to Irene. Ecstatic she immediately called me congratulating me. She told me I could absolutely do a half and that she would see me Saturday for bib pickup.
I flew into Los Angeles and headed to Disneyland. I was scared shitless. I had no idea what I was doing. I was afraid I wasn't ready. I was afraid I wasn't going to make it. But Irene kept me laughing and kept me calm. She had this love for running that was infectious. The way she talked about the spectators, and the feeling you get as you cross the finish line, it was enough to make me tear up. The next morning came, we put our Tutu's on, and we took off. I finished in 2 hours and 4 minutes. I couldn't believe it. My sister called me after I crossed the finish line crying. She told me how proud she was of me and said some of the most inspiring and humbling things to me. When I hung up the phone I started silently crying to myself. For once things made sense. I felt proud of myself. Irene had finished a while before me and gave me this huge bear tackle hug when she found me. We started together and I kept with her pace through the parks, for the first 4 miles, but lost her. As we walked back to our hotel room, Irene asked me if I thought I would want to run a full marathon. I told her I would rather die. She laughed and said, "We'll see about that."
Five months later, I ran my first marathon. Instead of running the Rock N Roll Half I ran the full. Waking up on the weekends to run became second nature. I felt like I had this thing I had to prove to myself. Training for it was hard. I was doing it all by myself. The long runs felt really long. But as I progressed I found that I had more energy and I felt confident. I felt like me again. I felt like the ballsy, driven, accomplished girl I had known for years and lost when I moved home. I wasn't ashamed to tell people what I was doing. I could tell them I was training for a marathon. Then I ran a marathon. That's when I decided I needed to get out of my own damn way. I finally understood what it meant when people told me there's no such thing as ready. You can prepare all you want but sometime you just have to jump off the cliff.
I have learned so much about myself from running. It's the tangible progression that I needed. I needed to feel pain that I could associate with growth. I had RunKeeper and my log that I could see myself getting stronger, running further, and getting better. I had this new athletic identity, which to this day makes me laugh because I was the least athletic person I've ever known. In the last two years I have run 2 full marathon, over 10 half marathons, and a handful of 10ks and 5ks. I've run over 2,744 miles in the last 2 years. Running helped me realize that I am capable of so much more than what I had originally thought. I wouldn't have had the courage to get on with my life without it. I wouldn't have the courage to fall in love without it. I wouldn't be happy without it.
2 years is a very short amount of time. It's flown by. I spent so much time hoping that I would find something that was effortless. Something that would help me stay in shape miraculously. I wish I could say running was that, but I'm glad it's not. It wouldn't be rewarding if it were easy. It wouldn't be as challenging. What a two years. I can't say I will love running forever, you never know what the future holds, but I can say I can't imagine my life without it. Thanksgiving is a pretty perfect running anniversary. What better day to start running than on a day dedicated to being Thankful? (OK OK OK and on a day where a morning run does wonders for your 5,000 calorie dinner.) You never know where life is going to take you. Sometimes you just have to say yes.
Until Monday friends, #RunSelfieRepeat.