Lessons Learned Along the Way
I didn’t consider myself a “runner” for quite some time. Before I got pregnant with my oldest, Lil One, I would run jog 3-ish miles three to four times a week and toss in the occasional 5k race. My PR for the 5k prior to Lil One was somewhere in the 31-minute range—and that was pushing hard for me. But I never considered myself “a runner.”
I decided after the birth of Lil One that I needed a goal, a goal that I alone had control over. Coming off of about 3-years of infertility where I had zero control, I desperately needed an outlet—an outlet for all of that pent up need to control things. I needed an outlet to push all of my inner anger towards the past 3 years. Yes, I had a beautiful healthy little girl, but it still didn’t happen in the time frame, or the manner that I had planned on. My goal was to become “a runner” and focuse on a half marathon. The thought of 13.1-mi was daunting and downright frightening to me if I am being perfectly honest. Here I was, the girl who quit track in high school because they wanted me to try being a hurdler; the girl who was running hard and almost puking after a 5k with a finish time of 31-minutes…I was going to train for 13.1 miles? Coincidently, an acquaintance started a training group for a ½ marathon. I decided to join figuring that I at least had someone to hold me accountable—one thing I hate the most in life is failing at something, especially failing at something publically.
With my husband’s support, we bought a treadmill for the basement as our anniversary gift that year. I’d go down to the basement after Lil One was in bed, and do my training run. I eventually found some decent speed I didn’t know I had and next thing I knew, I had met my goal of a ½ marathon, alongside my acquaintance friend in a time of 1:57:25. Never in a million years did I think I’d sub-2 hour my first half marathon.
From there, I really started to enjoy running. I started to meet up with Scary (our nickname for my friend in our running group). Scary was training for her first full marathon and I was planning on another ½ marathon. Every week, as we’d add another mile to Scary’s training, Scary would drop another thought into my head that I should switch my ½ registration to the full marathon. If I was already up to 18-miles why on earth would I settle for a ½ when I was clearly training for a full?
I realized after thinking about it, I was willing to settle for another ½ distance because I was afraid of failure at the full distance. But I also realized that that had been what was holding me back my entire life in athletics—fear of failure. So many things came easy to me that when I faced a real challenge, or a situation where I wouldn’t be the best, I found an excuse as to why I couldn’t or wouldn’t participate. I was a mom now—what kind of an example would I be to my daughter if I chose the easy way out? I wanted my daughter to grow up as a strong, confidant woman who was willing to face challenges head on but unless she had a role model that showed her how, she wouldn’t become that. Nothing worth while in life ever comes easy—my daughter was proof of that to me. Running, in a way, was no different. If running a marathon were easy, everyone would do it. It’s supposed to be hard; it’s supposed to scare you. It’s a distance to be respected, but it was a distance that I decided I would conquer, no matter how ugly.
So, on a brisk November morning in 2010, I set out to run 26.2 miles through the streets of Philadelphia. And 26.1 miles later, as I approached the finish line, I saw my best friend’s giant Jackie-O sunglasses, and heard my husband yelling “Go Momma!” as he held our daughter—it was the last push I needed to carry me over that finish line. It was that moment as I crossed the finish line, in 4:27:54, which I finally called myself “a runner.” In reality, I think you are a runner the moment you decide you are one. Whether you run 3-miles, 26.2 miles, or even an ultra, if you say that you are a runner—you are. I know that now and I want to make sure that my kids know that as they grow up.
I want my kids to know the following: Do not limit yourself; do not label yourself because you are so much more. Believe in yourself and your abilities; realize that nothing comes easy; savor every moment of your journey because you learn so much about who you are in those moments of challenge and doubt. Most importantly, love yourself no matter what the outcome—as long as you have given 100% the result doesn’t matter.