I have for about 6 years now.
And yet, I still hesitate to call myself a runner.
My sweet running buddies would roll their eyes and disagree (as good friends will). But it’s a mindset for me, not a title.
Owning the status of runner is hard for me. I was that girl in junior high that literally cried when they announced that we would be doing the 10 minute run in P.E. In my minds eye, I am still the chunky girl who immediately got a side stitch and as nearly hyperventilated when the word ‘run’ was uttered. I was the girl that never played team sports; no softball, basketball; volleyball – and soccer wasn’t even a thing in my town. I swam until junior high and then tried pom-poms during one year of high school. And that was it.
But yesterday, I ran my third half marathon. And for the first time, I felt like a runner.
For the first time, I finished 13.1 miles and didn’t feel as though I was crawling to the end, or feel absolutely nauseous afterwards. I even ran it faster than my past two crossings of the finish line. My mind was filled with positive thoughts- not just ‘please God, don’t let my legs fall out from underneath me.’ And my body wasn’t giving out on me. I felt great, so much so that I decided if I can get down into the next decade of numbers on the scale I will attempt a full marathon. Something until that moment I had vehemently opposed. That being said, I have to attribute a lot of my energy and stamina to my success on W30 thus far.
As a sidebar, I feel great about my W30 results. I am at a weight I haven’t seen in the scale for nearly 10 or 15 years and I just feel darn good.
So why now? Why after 6 years of running do I finally feel I can call myself a runner? In all honesty – the conditions of the run were miserable; 50 degrees and raining. I looked like a drown rat, an oompa loompa or, as my sister would say, smurfette in my blue poncho. But, the conditions didn’t matter. I had not only recently just changed the food I am eating and the amount I weigh, I had also changed my mind. I now know, it’s called cognitive behavioral therapy. As I heard on a recent podcast ” It’s well-known in science that if you change the way you think, you will change the way you react in situations and you will, you know, improve your relationships and all the other things in your life around you.”
So yes, my inner monologue changed. You know -that little voice that you wake up with and carry with you all day long? Mine used to be full, every waking moment, of lists of things I hadn’t done or wanted to do or obsessive thoughts on things like the pants I couldn’t zip up that hung in the same spot in my closet (you know- the deserted rack of “some day I will wear this”clothes) . Or I would look at the other runners on the trail and envy their stride, their speed, their skinny legs (just knowing that they don’t have to deal with the chub rub that I do). But, over the past 9 months, I have changed focus. I have made the conscious decision to focus on my blessings and the ‘I cans’ of my world instead of the ‘I can’ts’. I am not saying I don’t have days that I am labored by to-do lists churning away in my brain and hatred for that skirt my husband loves that makes me feel like a pig in a blanket. But, even as we ran through the rain; my amazing, warrior, running friend Tamika [who was running her half marathon coming off a 4 day bout with the stomach flu], reminded me that the rain that day was much like life. “We all have times where we have to run in the rain. It’s not fun, but reaching your goal and looking back, its’ worth it.” It’s all about perspective.
I ended up running that half faster than I have ever run. And as I entered the tunnel leading into Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois, I had a verse playing over and over in my mind. “I can do all things, through Christ who is my King.” [I realize I haven’t introduced you properly to my faith life – but is not just a side of me.. .it is me. It is inherent in all that I am. So I’m not a preacher about it – I just live it.]
Change your mind and change your life. I made up my mind to be THANKFUL for all that I can do. And sister, I can run!