Allow me to introduce you to my new running shoes (in "lightning/paradise pink/lemon!" yes, I'm sporty and I'm stylish... was there ever any doubt?) My feet are so happy now, after months of running in shoes that were well over a year old, and not the best to begin with. I feel light as a feather. These shoes are going to take me places! They're going to see me through my first ever 10K race this coming weekend. I can't even believe it.
Tonight was the last session of my "First Steps" beginners' running clinic. I have gone from running just 3o seconds at a time to running for 2o minutes straight, several times over. I am amazed. And pretty damned proud of myself too. I went to every training run for 14 weeks (with the exception of that one week where I stayed home to celebrate my baby's fifth birthday!) I stuck it out and made it all the way to the end, with just 5 other girls. 5 out of 30. I ran in the dark, in the wind and the rain, sometimes with tears streaming down my cheeks. It was hard and sometimes it was just plain awful, but I kept on running (and slowly, it got easier).
Why though? That's what my mom keeps asking me every Tuesday night when I drop the boys off at her house and head out to meet my running group (and when I come back an hour later, beet-red and more than a little bit sweaty). Why? I thought you hated running. Doesn't it hurt? Isn't it hard? Wouldn't you rather do something else?
It's true. I did used to hate running. I grew up hating it. I was the girl at school who was just not good at sports. I was always one of the last ones picked for the team. I dreaded gym class. I would do anything to get out of it. It was just an opportunity to fail, as far as I was concerned. To look foolish and feel fat. And with the exception maybe of volleyball, running is what I was the worst at. I had no stamina. My skinny little ankles hurt more and more with every step. I got stitches in my side. Everyone was faster than me. Once in a while I even threw up. It was that bad.
And now, here I am, a runner (a beginning runner, but a runner all the same)! I'm a girl who thinks about running, and doesn't feel sick to her stomach anymore. A girl who can run and have a conversation at the same time. A girl who actually kind of likes running. Talk about a transformation.
So, why do I do it? So many reasons. The first is because I want to run for the cure again in October, and actually run the whole way. (If Em can beat cancer, I can run 5K no problem, right?) Why else? It's hard work. And when I do hard work, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. It's great exercise. And when I exercise, I feel strong. It's good for my usually slow metabolism. I can eat that chocolatey dessert now and not really worry about it (me and food... another complicated relationship). I like exercise better than I like dieting. It's made me believe in myself and the things that I can do if I put my mind to it (the negative voice in my head can be quite loud when it wants to be... I have loved telling it to shush up!)
And on Sunday, if I happen to pass any of those girls on the sidelines, the ones who didn't want to pick me for their team, the ones who snickered at me when I was crying in the change room... I can just smile and run right past them. I'm leaving those girls behind. I'm not going to give them one more thought. And that has been a long time coming.