I was a tomboy as a kid. Playing baseball and soccer with the boys was always preferred over jumping rope with the girls. Field day races were my favorite and I was always the fastest girl in my class. I watched the faster boys pump their arms, some with their fists clenched, others with outstretched fingers, wondering which way made you run faster. In middle school I signed up for the track team and ran 220 and 440 distances, and some relays. Competing again was exciting, but practices and meets became an inconvenience, and the coach started calling me Scooter and I quit. My running esteem hit the toilet and it took me 25 years to dig it out.
Running came back into my life in 2011. There was no monumental event that spurred me into action, and I don’t remember the day I first laced up my shoes again. I know I was tired of being overweight and looking pregnant in all my clothes. The thought of having to shop in the ‘womens’ section made my stomach turn and my eyes well with tears. I had always been thin until I started having kids, and like a lot of women, I never lost the extra weight. I had lost 20 pounds and got down to 150 pounds in 2004, the year we moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. Long cold winters, a demanding job and high alcohol consumption were the road map to find those lost 20 pounds, plus a few more. No one ever told me I was fat. No one needed to. I found myself starting to think like a middle-aged overweight woman, and that’s who I was becoming. That’s not who I was or who I wanted to be.
I watched people running during our commute to work and say, ‘That’s what I should be doing’, or ‘I wish I could do that’. Eventually, I got tired of hearing myself and started looking up 5k training plans. One of the first ones I stumbled on had a 1 1/2 mile run on day 1! Are you kidding me? I could barely run a quarter of a mile. That was discouraging. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found Couch to 5k. I had a treadmill in our garage and the adventure started with 60 seconds of running with a 90 second recovery walk. My younger sister, Cassidy, joined me on the adventure and we would encourage each other via text message through the ever increasing run intervals. Those cold days in the garage, trying to text and run at the same time, and making weekly progress are forever etched in my memory. They were the building blocks of a future adventure I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams.
Running started out as a means of losing weight, but it became so much more. I have discovered so much about myself, and uncovered parts that had been hidden for a long time. It became the route back to the thin, confident, healthy woman that I want to be – that I am. Running helped me find my self-esteem and my courage. I became less afraid of the unknown. With each accomplishment, each increasing long run, I learned something new. I can measure the pounds and count the inches and sizes I’ve lost, but what I can’t quantify is what I have gained. I didn’t always realize it at the time. Sometimes it takes hind sight to appreciate what you have and what you have accomplished.