|Runners World Magazine|
All through high school, I was average. Not thin, but not fat. I didn't have great eating habits nor did I exercise, but I was a size 8 and happy with it. Then college happened. Cafeterias happened...all you can eat un-healthy food that you didn't have to ask your parents whether you could have it or not because it was all paid for. Then being in a sorority happened where meal plans were included in our dues. Then having a part time job happened. Basically, I had little time or motivation to prepare healthy meals, and it cought up to me.
Eventually, my size 12 jeans were too small....and I didn't want to go buy new ones, so I decided something had to change. I traded going out after work for getting up in the morning to go to the gym and use the elliptical. My daily schedule now looked something like this:
- 5:45 am : Gym
- 9:00 am : Class
- 2:00 pm : Work
- 10:00 pm : Off Work
- 11:15 pm : Bed
Thats a long day! Not to mention studying, homework and various sorority committments. But fitting in the extra time to work out made me feel fantastic. I started to eat better...feel happier...be a better person in general. After I had lost about 30 pounds, I felt like I could do anything. Instead of just being "healthy", I wanted to something I had never been. I wanted to be athletic! So I marched myself upstairs at the gym to go run on the indoor track. 8 Laps = 1 mile. I think I made it maybe 1 before I was out of breath and dying. But, I continued on, and soon enough, I could do 2 or three miles in the air-conditioned flat gym.
Then I graduated and I was too poor to afford a gym membership. Being the cheap person I am, I said to myself, "You can run anywhere, that's free! Just buy shoes!" I bought some New Balance's more because they were cute than any other reason, put on my cotton soffe shorts and t-shirt and hit the pavement. Running outside was a completly different animal. There was wind resistance, changes in pavement and elevation, dogs barking at you, people to say hello to, and weather to ajust to. Three miles was about my limit.
My weight loss was now about 40 pounds and I was a size 2! I was ecstatic! Then one day, I was talking to my boyfriend of the time and told him, "I think I wanna run a marathon or something one day" to which he responded, "Only fat girls who get skinny do that". Inside I was pretty upset...after all...I had wanted to make a change and I had done that...that's not an easy thing to do! Didn't he know that getting to the point I was at was hard work? And if I could do that then why couldn't I continue to make myself better? I said, "I guess," and the conversation moved on.
I started a new job and realized there was another person in my office who ran...but not like me. I ran three miles and huffed and puffed and stopped to walk. This guy ran marathons...like....26.2 miles! Crazy! I also broke up with my boyfriend, and needed something to keep my mind off of him, so my coworker suggested I train for a Half Marathon. 13.1 Miles. At the time that was a big scary feat. But, each step of the way he encouraged me, and helped me make good decisions, and come race day, I was prepared and in better shape than ever!
Fast foreward. February 13, 2011 I ran a full marathon! That crazy 26.2 mile distance I first mentioned in 2008. I followed a training schedule, ate well, took care of my body, and finished strong! It may have been the most challenging thing I've ever done and I am overjoyed that I did. And I plan to do it again. Probably more than one more time.
Running gives me more than I could ever ask for from a hobby, especially marathon training. I know what my goal is, and I know that in order to achieve that goal I need to put in the time and effort. Sure, I was nervous days before the race, but in my heart I knew that I had done everything I needed to already. All that was left was getting to the start line. Running gives me focus to meet goals. Running lets me have time alone in nature; a way to see the world differently. I know more about Baton Rouge neighborhoods than I ever thought I would, because when you run 20 miles through your city, you just tend to pick up on things you can't in a car. I know where my favorite piece of sidewalk is in the Garden District, I know the house with the firetruck always has music on on Sunday mornings and I know when I turn onto Belmont that I'm almost back to the lakes(only 3 more miles till I'm finished!)! Starting to run is the best thing I could have ever done for myself.