Never Too Old
Almost 9 years ago at the age of 42, a woman was standing in the mirror taking the first of 3 medications for anxiety and depression. She looked up for the first time in a while and saw the woman looking back. She was unhealthy. She smoked, was 80 pounds overweight and seriously unhappy with her life. This time though, something was different, there was an awareness that things needed to change.
This woman had two children she was pretty certain she would not be around for if things kept going in this direction. Where had the time gone? How had she let her self go so much? Why didn't she like the person looking back at her? There had to be more to this thing called life.
The next morning, after the children got off to school, she walked her dog for 3 miles. It took tremendous effort but she did it and she continued to walk the 3 miles every day for some time. At some point, walking evolved into bike riding. She would ride while the kids were in school. It was a grind, it was slow it was hard, hard as hell, but every day this woman made a decision that she would do one thing to move towards some semblance of health and well being.
A year later, a friend suggested she enter a triathlon. She could not swim with her head in the water and did not like to run, she despised it, however it was a challenge she was curious about. She would HAVE to prepare and definitely liked the idea of having a goal, so she entered the race. Finished the swim dead last, rode her bike and walked/ran the 6 mile run but she finished with the biggest smile and an ember of confidence that maybe she was worth the effort. Maybe she could be athletic after all.
The following year, another friend challenged her to run her first half marathon. The immediate response was "HELL FREAKING NO! I can't run. " The friend replied: “Everyone can run, I will help you.”
This friend was true to his word. Through all the F bombs and complaints he just kept telling her to stick with it, at some point you will turn a corner and will enjoy running. She held onto this promise for two and a half years before it actualized. She kept at it because she wanted to be healthy, wanted off her medications, wanted to be a good role model for her children.
In February of 2012, she completed her very first half marathon. This time, at the finish there was a confidence that she could do anything. What she wanted more than anything was to come off of the medications she was taking and feel like part of the human race, to feel normal- whatever that meant.
When she met the doctor next, she explained what she wanted completely expecting to get an argument, what she got was a huge dose of motivation. She was told, “If you continue with endurance sports you will rewire your brain and you won't need the medicine, but it will take time and consistency.” Challenge accepted!
It took a little over two years with a doctor’s steadfast guidance but today, she no longer needs anxiety or depression medication, and the cure is free!
That she is me. I tell that part of my story in the third person because in many ways, I do not feel like that woman. She seems so far away. Here's the thing, since that very first half marathon, I have had a life that I could not have imagined. A life that running has given me! Today, I live a life that knows no bounds and the word can't is NOT in my vocabulary. I no longer smoke, my size is smaller, my life fuller and my kids? Well, they are grown and have a living example that anything is possible. They are still the best parts of me. My son runs an annual 5K race with me and my daughter is my biggest cheerleader. My husband is my support crew and I am the luckiest woman alive. It really does take a village!
At 50 years old I have run 15 half marathons, completed a half ironman and two weeks ago, I completed the Miami marathon, my first full marathon EVER.
When I stop and look back, the joy has really been in the journey. The running community has been a life-force that has impacted every area of my life. My perceptions of who I am and who I was are always more positive when looked at through the lens of a community filled with people that lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. That has been so vital to my love affair with running because let's be honest, running can suck ass on any given day. It can also be euphoric, devastating, tedious, graceful and everything in between. What it cannot do is take back the lessons of love it has brought to my life. All of this because I put on foot in front of the other, saw a glimmer of hope and decided to try something different.
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