Have you ever been riding in your car, air conditioning on full blast, music blaring and seen one of those "crazy people" running down the road? All you think is, why are they running? You quickly glance in the rearview mirror. There has to be someone wielding a knife chasing them, but there is no one. So for the rest of your cool drive you are thinking how that runner must have a screw loose, running covered in sweat, looking uncomfortable, maybe a little miserable even and how you could NEVER do that. Heck your thighs rub together and arm jiggles just walking to the couch. I lovingly have referred to those as "chub rub" and "bingo wings" over the years and running was what you did, only if being chased and after being certain the person in pursuit didn't have a gun.
All of this changed when I decided I was worth more than being the girl on the sidelines. I had friends who ran and talked about the elusive "runners high" and I was convinced this same high was found in a good chocolate milkshake. Needless to say, it wasn't. My weight and sloth like tendencies were proving that more and more each day. I joined Weight Watchers at 309lbs and when I hit 30 lbs down I decided to reward myself, not in the usual "binge on my favorite foods" way, but instead I saw a coupon for a 5k and went for it. This was not your everyday 5k. This was the Pretty Muddy Women's mud run in Oct. 2012. I convinced (maybe even conned) 3 friends to do it with me and cursed the whole way wondering what I was thinking. I cant even tell you the elation I felt crossing that finish line. I couldn't walk for the next 2 days but I was already wanting to do another race.
I hadn't trained for that 5k. Hell, I hadn't even walked around my neighborhood. I knew that if I was ever going to do something like that again, I was going to need to get in better shape. So in December 2012, I joined a gym. I would walk my 20min miles and be bored. So I added in some jogging. Then I added spin class, then yoga, and weight lifting I was feeling stronger and looking better. I was only jogging 10-20 seconds at a time but, holy cow I was doing it!!!
Then came the knee pain, the hip pain and the back pain. What!? I was losing weight and building muscles.How could this be happening? Then the blisters came. So I timidly entered the new running store across the street from the gym. I was nervous about it. Heavy people don't run and runners are an elite group of people. I felt I had no right to enter their inner sanctum. Boy was I wrong! The staff at Lucky Foot not only got me in the right shoes but they made me feel good about the steps I was taking. (Pun intended)
In March 2013 I did my second 5k. With my father in law coaching me along, I completed it with my fastest pace ever, 13:41. Yes it is slow but I had never even done that in those mandatory gym class miles. I was dumbfounded. Plus, with the right shoes I didn't have any pain. I could conquer the world that day.
Next up was the 10k in April. Of course I chose the 8th largest road race in the US (go big or go home right??) I was stoked, my 4 woman team from the pretty muddy was now 6 and we wore tutus! My goal was to finish it. Which I did in under 2 hours. Again it was slow, who cares, I was faster than those people sitting on the couch watching the race on TV. I got high fives from my friends from Lucky Foot at their tent. I got cheered on by the thousands of people out there. I was a rock star but was I a runner yet?
Since then I have done another 5k and an 8k. I still walk most of it. We always wear our tutus. The team TuTu Many Races had 15 members at our last race. My goal is to do one race every month. I even have my sights set on maybe doing a half marathon in November. (Does this make me crazy??) I know I am slow but the short jogs have turned into minute runs. I was always saying I am a "runner" (notice the quotations). Until one day I read a quote that basically said if you just run one or two steps, you are a runner. I spoke to people I thought were "true runners" and they said I was a runner. They embraced me with open arms. They gave me advice, encouragement, and support. They told me I inspire THEM. What!?! (That made my brain explode.) I have people on Facebook tell me I inspire them too and ask to join my team. How can I inspire anyone?
Since my newfound love of running I have found I am more excited to try new things to keep me active. Just last week I was in the Outer Banks on vacation. I ran almost every morning. I even did a quick beach run (which is extremely difficult,) but my biggest accomplishment was climbing the dunes at Jockeys Ridge. I have been to the Outer Banks the last 18 years and always thought there was no way I could (or would) do that. This year I said to myself, "you are a runner now, you can do anything" and so I climbed the first one with my husband. He looked at me and said "wanna do another?" And we did. There are no more limitations for me and I conquered something that I swore to myself I could not even attempt.
I am still 267 lbs. I have a long way to go on my weight loss journey. The difference is now I have more of a sense of self. I know where I am going and how many steps it will take. I have new paths and trails to lead me there. I have made new friends along the way. I have joined Facebook groups to ask my questions and inspire me. I found that I there is a plethora of people to ask for support. I have, more than anything, found that runners aren't really an "elite group" like I originally thought. Runners are more than happy to show you how to find your way. They welcome you into their family like you have been there the whole time and I kinda think we have. A part of me always wanted to be a runner and it breaks out every time I jog to that next mailbox and decide to keep on to the next. It comes out one step at a time. But it always comes and it fights with the part of me that doesn't want to keep on. But... When my inner runner wins, I know that I AM A RUNNER and I can conquer anything and there will never be too many races, instead there will always be TuTu Many Races.