Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Four Letter Word (That's Really Eight Letters Long).

I have never considered myself a runner. In fact, I'd probably say I was an unrunner. I've been known to dabble in jogging, but I'm more prone to the long walk or the elliptical machine...assuming I was actually working out. Then one day in November 2007, that all began to change.

I was taking the Muni to work on my standard cramped and annoying commute. However, on this day someone said something to me that would lead me to do something I never thought I would be able to do, twice. An older woman offered me her seat because she thought I was.....pregnant!?! (I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that every woman recoils in horror at the thought of being asked that question when she is indeed, most definitely, not pregnant.) "Oh dear god," I uttered to myself through an incredibly forced smile, trying to both hide my resentment of her statement and save her the embarrassment of being wrong. Granted, I was wearing a baby doll style dress with an empire waist, but, well, no buts. Someone thought I was pregnant and I most undoubtedly was NOT!!

At this time, I was also about 5 months shy of my 30th birthday and feeling pretty discouraged about my weight, my body and myself in general. Since I could also now add "looks pregnant" to that list, I needed to do something and I needed to do it fast. Like a sign from above, I received an email about a special from BootcampSF. I recruited my future mother-in-law and headed out into the cold for our first session. They needed to perform a physical assessment so that we could see our progress over the next 4 weeks. I wasn't too worried about the push ups (I used to surf afterall) or the crunches, but the run!?! Oh crap. You mean I have to run 1.5 miles non stop? Like 15 minutes of running? At one time? I begrudgingly started the run, pushed through and finished it but man, it sucked. And from that day on for three nights a week, we endured push ups on gritty sidewalks, pull ups in trees, squats, squats, squats, medicine balls from hell, crunches in parking lots, running up stairs, walking lunges for miles, sprints on piers, long grueling runs, you name it, we did it. And in a month, I lost 5 pounds!

I decided to sign up for the next session by my lonesome. And there, I met two amazing friends....Emily B (who you may know from here) and Thuy L. We pushed each other daily, cracked jokes, drove our trainer nuts, probably drove the other trainees nuts, but supported each other as we each got stronger and more fit. Through bootcamp, I was pushed harder than I've ever pushed myself before physically. I started to realize that I was capable of more than I ever thought possible. And the inches continued to come off! By the time my 30th rolled around, I was in better shape than I had been during my 20s. My clothes were actually flattering. I was standing taller. My shoulders looked pretty damn good. And no one was asking me if I was pregnant.

Then, one day Emily made an off the wall suggestion..."We should run the Nike Women's Marathon in October." "Ok." And before I knew it, the girl who had a fear of running 1.5 miles was training to run 26.2 miles. WTF? As the weeks progressed, my runs slowly increased from 4 miles to 7 miles to 9 miles, 13 miles, 18 miles! I trained by myself most of the time and loved it. Mind you, it was hard as hell, but it was amazing to only be accountable to me, myself and I. I had to roll myself out of bed for the long runs early on Saturday mornings. I had to make myself not just hop on the bus after mile 15. I wasn't actually running all of those miles nonstop. I followed the run-walk method due to past injuries I've had with shin splints and my knees (you can read more about it here), but I was still out there training for 2 - 4 hours on the weekend. But in the midst of the training, I had some minor distractions and injuries. I planned a wedding, got married, wasn't able to train as much and re-injured my shins. Come October, I basically decided I didn't want to push my luck so I would just run the half marathon.

The morning of race day was filled mostly with nausea, but also with excitement, anticipation and of course dread. I mean honestly, what the hell did I sign myself up for? And then the race started and we ran and ran and ran. When the turn off came for the half marathoners to separate from the marathoners, I decided to go for the whole marathon. I was there anyway. Now don't get me wrong...it basically sucked after mile 16 (which means it sucked for 10 whole miles). I was tired and it seemed like it wouldn't end, but I kept pushing and eventually I finished...in just under 6 hours. But hey...I finished a marathon!

I took a short break from running, but then decided to train for the Big Sur Marathon. Obviously I'm a very goal oriented person, but still, who the hell was I training for a second marathon? I trained for the next four months and in April I finished my second marathon in 5 hours and 17 minutes.

Almost at the finish line of the Big Sur Marathon.

I know I'll never win any races and I may never even finish a marathon in under 5 hours, but I now proudly call myself a runner. That may sound corny (or unimpressive), but running has become much more than something I do so I can devour that caramel gelato with olive oil and sea salt that I had for dessert last night (yum!). It's my own personal victory because I don't train for or run those marathons for anyone other than myself. I'm more fearless now, more willing to take on a challenge and more patient when things don't result in instant gratification. And it's all thanks to some lady who thought I was pregnant. Bitch.

This entry is part of Modcloth's Terrific Transformations Contest. You can check out the other entries here.

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing. I finished my second marathon in 5 hours 15 minutes. My only goals were to finish before my first time and not to cry during the race. In my first marathon I cried my way through old town scottsdale (about miles 18 and 19)--then I saw the lady with the red vines and my moood improved.


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