I Never Thought I'd Be A Runner. Now, I'm the World's Okayest Runner

In three weeks, I will complete my first half marathon. For someone who tried and walked away from running more times than I can count, it's an amazing accomplishment!

For ten years, I tried to be a runner. I all began while I was trying to get into better shape for my wedding. I ran and took classes until I fit into my wedding dress, then stopped working out almost immediately after my wedding day. I gained ten pounds after the wedding and added on another ten pounds after the birth of my son.

Every so often, I would get frustrated with how I looked and try to work out again. I would read articles about running, start the Couch to 5K Program, get to a point where I could jog for a few minutes on the treadmill, then stop when it became hard or boring. When it came up in conversation, I would admit defeat, that I just "wasn't meant to be a runner." 

Running was my great failure, the only thing I tried really hard yet failed. (There are lots of things I cannot do, but none that I truly tried to accomplish.) 

worlds okayest Runner.jpg

Last year, at the age of forty, I joined a beginner's running group (BRG) organized by my local running store. This combined three of my biggest fears: Meeting new people, trying new things, and the risk of failure. Even though I had mini panic attacks as I drove to the first sessions, I kept going. It changed my life! My fellow runners were so supportive! We were all afraid that we were not going to succeed in the initial goal of running of 5K. We filled those training sessions with laughter, shared secrets, and encouragement.

A little more than halfway through the fourteen-week program, we started thinking about next steps. How do we continue challenging ourselves through running?  Should we transition to the regular running club, filled with "real runners"? Did we belong there? Were we ready? Even though we were capable of running three miles, we still doubted ourselves. We promised to attend the first "real" running club session together, for fear that if we didn't jump right into it, we would get scared and abandon our hard work. I love the people I met through BRG! On race day, there were hugs, laughter, and tears! Four days later, running club welcomed us! People looked out for us, cheered us on, and congratulated us when we returned to the store after our run!

In my twenties and thirties, most of my friendships revolved around eating and drinking; Now, I love surrounding myself with people who push me to better myself! We meet for runs, sign up for races together, and, because we spend so much time running next to each other, know quite a bit about each other and our families. On a whim, on Black Friday 2017, we decided to sign up for a half-marathon held in May because it was an awesome deal!  As people who had never run more than four miles, we were terrified to think about running thirteen but rationalized that we had six months to prepare. We looked at various twelve-week training programs and deciding to begin training in early February. It was definitely a unique Black Friday purchase!

We try to meet on Saturday mornings for our long runs. Recently, we got together to help one of our runners complete her first ten-mile run. For someone who never thought I'd ever run three miles, telling my husband as I head out the door that I am "Only going to run six or seven miles" makes me smile. Last Saturday, I completed a twelve-mile run, affirming that I will be ready to run the half in two weeks! 

While I was in the middle of BRG, the woman who works at the gym where my son takes ninja skills obstacle classes convinced me to take classes as well and work towards completing my first obstacle race. Again, I questioned whether or not I belonged with amidst other athletes. Once I began the weightlifting classes, I was hooked! I love seeing myself get stronger! Just as important, I love having an activity I share with my eight-year-old. He and I completed an obstacle race together last summer. Running and getting stronger has become one of our shared interests.

I am thankful that I am able to set a positive example for my son and discover activities we can enjoy together (which takes away some of my mama guilt over not having any interest in Pokemon or Minecraft)!

Worlds Okayest Runner.jpeg

Growing up, no one in my family was anything close to athletic. My mom had a myriad of health problems that stemmed from not taking care of herself. When she passed away when my son was four months old, I vowed not to follow that path. I have always struggled with my weight, from being a chubby child who preferred reading books to being active to the adult who repeatedly gains and loses the same fifteen pounds. Now, I am more focused on what my body and do than what it weighs.

I want to run a thirty-five minute 5K and deadlift 230 pounds more than I want to fit back into my size ten jeans. I challenged myself to stop beating my self up through twice-daily weigh-ins. It was hard to give up those weigh-ins, but now I find myself focusing on how I feel rather than the number on the scale. 

One of my favorite things about running is the ability to set a goal, create a plan, and works towards it. I love seeing myself get faster and stronger. I love having time to myself to zone out with my thoughts or listen to audiobooks. In two weeks, I will complete my first half-marathon! In October, I will race another half-marathon with a goal time! I've decided to tempt fate next year by entering the NYC Marathon lottery. If it is meant to be, my name will be drawn, the world's sign that it is time for me to train for a marathon!

I never thought I would be a runner. I had accepted that it just wasn't meant to be. Now, I have amazing running friends and long-term goals. I resumed writing again, starting my blog, World's Okayest Runner. I am proof that anyone can become a runner!