I never thought I’d be a runner. EVER.

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I never thought I’d be a runner. EVER.

Before I found running, I thought that runners were crazy. Who gets up at 4 a.m. to exercise? “Not THIS girl.”Me

Before I became a runner, I thought running was for athletes. Who chooses to run? “Not THIS girl.”Me

Before I became a runner, I thought strength looked like having six-pack abs, a bikini body. Who puts in the time and energy for that? “Not THIS girl.”Me

Here’s my story.

Look. I was obese. I was eating myself into an early coffin. I was the wife others wanted to have since I did everything: Maid, cook, housekeeper, scheduler, fantasy. I was the mom that other kids wanted since I was everything: Sleepover hostess, driver, fun-provider. I was the professional my company wanted: Hard but smart worker, negotiator, team player.

Somehow, I’d become the person I didn’t want to be yet being all these things to others.

I met “mom friends” who’ve become my best friends. Most were runners. There I was again, attempting to keep up with the Joneses but loathing every second of it, feeling defeated and worthless.

Yeah. I drank the proverbial punch. I “trained” and completed many 5Ks, a 10K, a 15K, and few half marathons…always under-trained and feeling like a fraud.

Then, it happened. On February 4, 2016, my oldest decided she wanted to join the local swim team – training for hours a day and leaving me with time on my hands in a gym. The next day, I came down with the Flu and stayed in bed for five days which was unheard of for me. I firmly believed I’d faced death.

On February 10, 2016, coughing and hacking, I boarded what would soon become “my” treadmill at the gym. If the oldest was swimming, I sure as hell would be doing something active. It was during that hour that I came to some very serious realizations.

People were staring at me. I had work to do alongside exercising. My kids were watching.

In mid-March, after walking on the treadmill six days a week and completely revamping my entire relationship with food, I looked out into the tree I’d focused on for a month during my workouts. It came to me. There was only one distance I’d not completed: A marathon.

I told no one.

It was during my treadmill time, that I decided to hold myself accountable and commit to train for a race. I hadn’t registered for one but found a plan for a 13.1. I followed that plan to the letter. Pounds lost and confidence gained, I registered for the race I’d trained for, and two weeks later, I finished that race.

During that race, I saw others like me. Most were not what the stereotypical runner looks like. They looked like me. We were and are all athletes.

Yes, I ran. I walked. And, I ran. Training had paid off because I’d invested in me for the first time in my life.

It was time to go public with my dream.

I told very few – my husband’s best friend (marathoner), my best friend, and my husband. That was it.

Alone in my thoughts, feet pounding pavement, I was at peace for the first time. The weeks came and went, and I registered for my first marathon.

I learned running was for my inner strength. Running was my time. Running meant accomplishment – not medals and personal records, but doing things I’d never done, proving myself and others wrong. I could do what I set out to do no matter what they said.

I found Kelly. I watched BQ or Bust – laughing and crying along with her. Seeing her share her story so honestly, I decided I could be like her: A runner.

Ten months to the day, I decided to change my life forever: I ran and walked and ran and walked my way across 26.2 miles.

I saw strength. I saw what strength looks like. Giving up was not an option. That’s strength. Positive self-talk. That’s strength. Getting it done. That’s strength.

It wasn’t easy; it’s not easy today. A lot has changed. I put me first. My family demands it. I’m the best wife, mom, and professional when I do that.

Here’s what I’ve realized: People were staring at me but not because of what my insidious internal-recording told me. They started because they were inspired. I learned to turn off the “inner recording” because she’s a real jerk.

I did have work to do. I learned to invest in me by writing in a gratitude journal many times during my day. I learned to meal plan and prep every weekend. I learned to cook and eat new and delicious foods that didn’t come from a drive-through, prompted by any number of emotions. I learned to say “No” and not feel apologetic about it. I learned to accept compliments.

My kids were watching. They are today. They’ve been at every finish line. They’ve learned to love the meals I cook. They’re inspired to ask to buy new things at the grocery. They make wise choices: standing up for themselves and others; choosing water after one soda at dinner; getting moving.

I never thought I’d be someone others look up to – others who’ve asked me to join their journeys to become their best selves ever.

I never thought I’d be weeks away from marathon #3.

I never thought that I’d lose 60 pounds and keep it off by choosing health over instant gratification.

I never thought I’d be a runner. If a person runs, they’re a runner. That’s it. Plain and simple.

I leave “never” behind now.

I am a runner.