I had no idea how it would go because let's face it... I was unhealthy. Years of living a stagnant life and eating whatever I wanted left me standing on a scale two months earlier staring at a number. The number staring back at me was the highest it had ever been. I refused to let this be my life, so I decided to make a change.
I laced up my shoes and went for a run. I made it a quarter mile. As I walked back to my apartment, all I could feel was defeated. But in that moment, I realized just how long this journey would be, and what I needed to do. So I went again the next day. I kept at it. I ran a 1/2 mile. Then 3/4 mile. Then a mile. Then 2.
On December 8, 2010, I ran my first 5K. The nerves I was feeling at the start quickly turned to adrenaline. I chugged along the course mile by mile. And when I crossed the finish line, I was hooked.
I signed up for a race in January, and made a goal to run a race every month. I didn't think this would last long, but I needed a way to hold myself accountable. So I ran another 5K. And another one the next month. The weight started coming down, and my happiness started rising.
I moved from Florida to Denver and stuck with it. Once I adjusted to the altitude, I needed to keep pushing myself, so I signed up for my first 10K. My distance kept going up a little bit. My weight came down a little bit. My speed went up a little bit. The one thing that stayed consistent is running a race every month. Month after month. Race after race.
3 years later, that streak is still in tact.
Each of the three years have taught me something major:
Year one taught me that the first step is always the hardest. It is so much easier to lay on the couch than to head out for a couple miles. Going from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one is a whole lot harder than most people give credit. Setting new habits takes a lot of will power, and bouncing back from setbacks is key. I've always loved the quote "Showing up is half the battle." With running, getting out the front door is half the battle, and if you can least get yourself there, the rest falls into place. Every time. The first step is the big test. Are you willing to take it? I'm thankful I was.
Year two taught me the importance of pushing myself. I was content to run a bunch of 5Ks, until I started meeting more people in the running community. Those people kept encouraging me to increase distances and find ways to challenge myself. I completed a Warrior Dash in Florida. I placed 3rd in my age group in a race. I ran my first half marathon. I became a Tough Mudder. I set PRs. I never stopped pushing myself, and it was a nice reminder of how much fight I have inside of me.
Year three taught me that anything is possible. I've been told all along that I shouldn't be a runner. Too big. Body's not built for it. Previous knee surgery. I love it to much and I'm too stubborn to listen to those voices. But there was one feat that I thought was impossible for me. I never thought I would attain it. But in June, I became a marathoner. It was an incredible way for me to realize that hard work, determination, and a little bit of crazy going a long way, and that nothing is impossible.
Here I am, 44 races later. It has been an unbelievable journey over these past 3 years, and one that I would have never expected looking back at 25-year-old me. It has taken me so far (literally and figuratively), and the person I am today is better as a direct result.
Through running, I have learned what it means to be healthy and how fitness can lead to a better life. I have gained confidence and tested my limits, gained new skills (tangible and not) and learned that when I set a goal, I won't stop until it's done. I have learned that runners are some of the most driven and all-around best people you will meet, and being a part of the running community has been a giant blessing. I have learned that the only thing standing in the way of accomplishing most things in life was the person staring back at me in the mirror. Once I learned that, I knew that I could conquer anything.
And it's all because I was willing to take a first step.