I should probably start this post with a confession. I am in no way, shape, or form an athlete. I’ve never played on any kind of team sport except for a brief stint in college when I played intramural volleyball. I was terrible. Picture arms flailing, balls flying different directions, and a lot of apologizing to my teammates. That’s it. That sums up my athletic career.
So when I tell you what I’m about to tell you, please keep that in mind. This weekend I ran my first half-marathon.
It all started about ten years ago when Ken bought a treadmill for me for Christmas. I know, I know, that’s probably not what most newlywed brides want from their darling husbands. And before you get all, “What?! A treadmill?! I would have told him to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine!” It was what I wanted. In fact, he tried to talk me out of it, but I stuck to my guns. So Christmas morning, he surprised me with a treadmill.
He still didn’t believe that I would use it for very long even after he bought it. Not because he thought I was a lardo and wouldn’t exercise, but because everybody who has ever bought a treadmill lets it collect dust in a corner after the first couple of months. He didn’t know it at the time, but that was the most motivating thing he could have said to me. I made up my mind right then that my treadmill was NOT going to collect dust in a corner.
So I started running, and I’ve continued to do so over the years. Sure, sometimes I get bored with the treadmill and take a break. Maybe run outdoors or do some other form of exercise for a while, but I always come back to that treadmill. It’s convenient, and I don’t have to rely on good weather in order to exercise.
However, even after all these years of running, I’ve never considered myself a “runner”. (I mean, real runners hate treadmills, right?) I run so I can eat chocolate and french fries with less guilt. Period. That’s what it’s about for me. If I had any kind of will-power to resist those foods, then I would stop running in a heartbeat. But I like to eat, so I run.
I’ve never taken running that serious because it’s always been about burning calories, not accomplishing goals. Even six months ago when I started toying with the idea of running a half marathon I was thinking about calories.
I have this problem. Every year between November through January, I eat like a pig. Between the holidays, both my kids’ birthdays, my anniversary, and then Ken’s birthday, we party for three months, and I normally stop running because we’re just so busy. I always gain weight during those three months. Shocker! I know! Then I spend the first six months of the new year trying to get it off. Over the years I’ve come to realize something…it’s getting harder and harder to get it off.
So I hatched a plan. I decided that if I signed up in October for a half marathon in February, then it would motivate me to keep exercising through the holidays. And so that’s how I got here.
I’m going to be honest with you. This past month of training has been tough. As far as I was concerned, I had met the goal. I kept exercising through the holidays. I had gained little to no weight over the last three months. The couple of pounds I did gain, I’m totally blaming on muscle. That’s what they always say, right? So I had really already accomplished my goal. However, to get this far and not run the half-marathon just didn’t seem right.
So Sunday morning, I begrudgingly woke up at the crack of dawn and put on my running shoes. I just wanted to get it over with, and so I headed downtown to join these weirdos:
These folks really enjoy running. They don’t just do for the chocolate and french fries. They do it because they love the sport. I felt like a poser standing amongst them. As I stood there waiting for the race to start, I thought, “What am I doing here?!” Then the guy next to me struck up a conversation. Turns out this was his tenth marathon. Yea that’s right, TENTH! He told me he was from Colorado and set a goal to run a marathon in every state. It seemed like a pretty audacious goal to me. I mean, I’m just here to fight my slowing metabolism.
In conversation, he asked if there were any other marathons in our city, and I sheepishly told him that I had no idea. The Mercedes is definitely the most well-known, but I wasn’t sure. In fact, I even admitted to him that this was my first half-marathon. His face lit up, and he high-fived me. He said, “Congratulations,” and told me that he was proud of me. And I know it’s stupid because he was a total stranger, but all of the sudden, I was proud of me too. It wasn’t just about burning calories. I was about to run a half-marathon!
The race started, and we were off. I ran all around this city, my home. I ran past the building where my dad used to take me with him to work sometimes so I could play “school” on the dry erase boards and make suicides in the break room soda fountain. I ran past Silvertron’s where Ken and I had our first date eighteen years ago. I ran past the Harbert Plaza building where I used to work during my brief stint as a career woman. With every twist and turn of the course, I went on another trip down memory lane, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Seriously, it was the best run I’ve ever had.
Around mile twelve, I started tearing up. I couldn’t believe I had actually done it. Me, probably the most nonathletic person that signed up for this race, and it was almost over. And I thought, “Maybe I’m not a poser after all.”
At the end of it stood my favorite cheerleaders, yelling from the side, and blowing me kisses as I crossed the finish line. I felt awesome. Edie even made me an adorable sign that morning to cheer me on from the sidelines:
That’s definitely going in my keepsake box. Along with this:Look at that guy behind me. He definitely thinks I’m some sort of weirdo because I choose to run for fun. I know that look. I had just been looking at everyone else that way a couple of hours ago.
All day long, I was receiving congratulatory texts and messages from friends and family, and it made me feel like a rock star. Thanks everybody for that!
In the end, I realized that I actually did more than just burn some calories these last few months. I proved that you don’t have to be an athlete to run a race, you’ve just got to stick with it and eventually the finish line will come.