It’s Monday and day 2 of the Whole 30 and for anyone who has done it before, this is where the reality sinks in. I think I got a sugar detox headache today! It was miserable. There was leftover Halloween candy everywhere I turned. And I’ve been in a foul mood all day. Until after I went running. My husband and I logged about 3 miles around town with the dogs tonight. And I really really didn’t want to go, but we did anyway, just as we always do on all the other nights I really really haven’t wanted to go the last 5 years. That’s right, October is my 5 year anniversary with running.
I graduated college in spring 2007 and the next year was one big party. I put on a lot of weight. I spent money I wasn’t making. October 2008 I got engaged. The impending wedding wasn’t the only thing that drove my fitness goals but it was certainly the straw that broke the camels back. But I was broke, and I had no interest in joining a gym, going on a diet, or changing my lifestyle too much. So I learned to run. And I never looked back. The summer of 2009 I set a goal to run my very first 5k in October of that year. I trained for 5 months to run the Big House Big Heart 5k at Michigan Stadium. I started running a mile here, a mile there. Every week I ran at least 3 times. I pushed myself out the door if it was all I could do for the day. And crossing that finish line in the Big House that October was so emotional I cried. I had accomplished something I thought I could never do. And a few months later, I did it again.
I went on to complete a 10k the following April – the Martian 10k. Ten days before my wedding in 2010, I completed my first sprint distance triathlon, the T-Rex Triathlon at Island Lake Recreation Area in Michigan. I remember all these events like they were yesterday because they were so meaningful to me – symbols of challenges I once thought I could never overcome. Since then I have completed 3 half marathons, the most recent and fastest of which was just a couple of weeks ago in Durham, NC. I ran the Detroit Marathon across two countries. I ran a very hilly 10 mile race in North Carolina. I captained a team of 12 people who ran from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL in 33 hours. I completed a Tough Mudder – 12 miles and 22 grueling obstacles through muddy North Carolina farmland. I’ve climbed Grandfather Mountain in NC and Katahdin in Maine. And I’ve done dozens of other Holiday Hustles, Turkey Trots, and [insert disease of choice] fundraising 5ks along the way. This summer I logged my fastest mile time in the history of me at 7:43. The 5k that used to take me 5 months to train for, is now a quick lunch-break workout that still leaves me time to shower. Not to mention I feel like the best dog-mom in the world, with my two fabulous four-legged running mates regularly by my side.
I’m not consistently fast, but I’m consistently consistent. And I’m amazingly proud of that. Running has been the one thing that has kept me engaged in a healthy lifestyle. My weight has gone up and down. And despite what you think it is possible to run a marathon carrying 30 pounds of extra weight. It’s not healthy, but it’s possible. And that’s what happens when you run like a maniac but don’t give a second thought to what you’re eating. But as with the Whole 30, it’s a little at a time. A dream-reaching 5k at first, and then a little more, and then a little more. I even took 3rd place in my age group at the Raleigh Women’s Distance Festival 5k last September. Running is not for everyone. But it’s definitely for me. And if you’re ever looking for that crazy person who will sign up for the latest trend in adventure racing – color run, glow in the dark, zombie run, obstacle course, etc – look no further.
I may not be fast but but I’m fierce dammit. And getting up that last hill, around this corner, and over that finish line is the one promise I make to myself that I always keep. I am thankful for the organized races that have motivated me over the last 5 years. These milestones have come to define my young adulthood and my fitness journey. I am thankful for my body’s ability to run, safe streets to do it on, and the myriad of running buddies I’ve had over the last 5 years.