A Pair Of Running Shoes Changed My Life

This is a story about shoes. And how they changed everything for me.

In late April 2017, I went to Disney with my husband and sister-in-law. It wasn’t unusual – we go every 9 weeks or so (Yes, it's a problem. No, we don't want help). But this trip changed my life.

My sister-in-law had decided at the last-minute to run the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon. She’s been a runner all her life and has run marathons and ultra marathons, so a half wasn’t a big deal for her. I can still remember wondering how a half marathon, 13.1 freaking MILES, could be considered not a big deal. I just assumed she was crazy and went about my day.

  L to R: Me, my husband, and his sister. As you can tell, their family is pretty thin. I’ve always felt like I don’t fit in well with them because I've always been chubby and un-athletic.

L to R: Me, my husband, and his sister. As you can tell, their family is pretty thin. I’ve always felt like I don’t fit in well with them because I've always been chubby and un-athletic.

The first thing we did that weekend was head to the runDisney Expo to pick up her race bib. If you've never done a runDisney race, then let me just describe the Expo for you. The first building houses tables and tables and tables of race bibs, goody bags, release waivers, and other similar stuff. Then the next building is full of booths where running businesses from all over sell their wares. There are shoes, clothes, bumper stickers, fitness watches, supplements, people offering to tape you with KT tape, etc. The list goes on and on. And then there's the third building. It's full of merch that is specific to runDisney. Running clothes, t-shirts, jackets, car magnets, glasses, pins, and so much more I can't even remember, all with a Disney theme. The whole place is jam-packed with people (altogether approximately 43,000 people ran races that weekend, and brought friends and family with them!) and is just altogether overwhelming. Especially if you love all things Disney, like I do.

That third building is where my life changed. It’s where I found my running shoes. And my new self.

  Are they not GORGEOUS??

Are they not GORGEOUS??

They are glow-in-the-dark Haunted Mansion-themed New Balances and I love them. So much. I saw them from across the incredibly crowded floor and had to have them. To convince my husband to let me spend $160 on shoes, I also signed up for a 5k. The Disney Princess 5k in Feb 2018. I said, "Let me get these shoes, and I'll run that race." To which he said, "Yeah, OK."

I'm sure at this point he was thinking, "Great, she's spending a fortune on shoes she'll probably never wear and justifying it by spending even more money on a race registration she won't follow through with." (OK, so that's really what I was thinking. He's not that negative...)

My husband probably didn’t believe me, but he indulged me and I got the expensive shoes. If I'm honest, I didn’t truly believe I’d start running or run that 5k. I just wanted the shoes. I figured I could always walk the 5k if it came to it.

But, true to my word (and planning to only stick with it until it got hard) I started Couch to 5k the next week.

  Week 1 Day 1. My dog was pretty thrilled with this development.

Week 1 Day 1. My dog was pretty thrilled with this development.

At first, it was almost easy. Almost. I mean, I was slow and red-faced, but I had read about people needing to repeat weeks 1-3 over and over before they could move on, and I just wasn't hitting that kind of roadblock. I did not skip or fail a single run until week 6. I got super sick around that time with a sinus infection which turned into an ear infection, bronchitis and a whole host of other crap. And I used it as an excuse to quit Couch to 5k. 

But I surprised myself and never quit running. 

I run 3-4 times a week now and I’ve run in four 5ks so far, with another 3 on the calendar between over the next 2 months. Currently, I’m working on upping my game to 10ks! My first 10k race is in August, and I’m definitely scared. My furthest run so far is 3.2 miles. And I need to push that out another 3 whole miles??!?!!

But I know I can do it. Because last March my furthest run was 0.0 miles. And now I’ve done 3.2.

As you can likely see from the images, I’ve also lost a good bit of weight. 44 pounds actually. Combine that loss with my improved health/diet and the fact that I am now a RUNNER (I've finally learned to call myself that), walking into that Expo and buying those expensive shoes is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. They changed everything. They changed me.

This is what strength looks like!

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