It was May 2010 and I was in the 12th mile of my first ever half marathon race. EVERYTHING in me wanted to give up and have the medic vehicle take me to the finish line. I was so hot, so tired, and my legs were cramping up. I did not think I could take another step.
Let me just to tell you… I am so glad I did not give up. The feeling I had of wanting to quit then and there was nothing compared to the overwhelming joy and pride I felt crossing that finish line. Friends were there, my sister and parents were there, and I knew I had done my best.
I love to run and training for that first big race is how I got hooked. Running benefits my whole being in ways I can’t explain. It gives me alone time and helps clear my head. The steady beat of my feet on the pavement reconnects me to myself. Whether I’m listening to music or just taking in the sounds of the world around me, it is good for my soul. For me, there’s nothing quite like it.
The fact that I have not been allowed to run per doctor’s orders for the past month and a half or so has been a bit rough. There was too much of a risk of me falling and catching myself with my recovering hand (thereby rupturing the surgery), so the doctor thought it best for me to lay off the running temporarily. However, I am thrilled to say that they lifted that restriction at my last appointment! As long as I stick to dry, paved surfaces or treadmills, I can get back to putting in some miles, which means my mental health will be better too. The restriction was lifted just in time for me to start the month of May off with a 5k, my first of 2022 (pictured below). I am setting my sights on running a half marathon in September, ready to take on another challenge doing something that helps make me the most loving, hopeful version of myself.
One reason I shared with you about my first half marathon and the joy I get from running is that I wish EVERY person would have the chance to feel that joy and pride. Our world is full of so many voices tearing people down and making them feel alone. Someone needs to tell them they are NOT alone, and that there are people who believe in them. Someone needs to tell them that each one of them is a beautifully, unique person. They need people who will encourage and cheer them on no matter their circumstances.
In fact, one of my favorite things about running a race is the people who gather along the route to cheer on a perfect stranger. Sure, they may be there for someone they know, but that doesn’t mean they don’t cheer on the thousands of other people running, walking, or straggling by. They are there to push people on with their words and give an extra boost of encouragement. Often just when I think of slowing down for a minute, I see a homemade sign or hear someone shout an encouragement, and it keeps me moving. I think we need more people like that in life. People who are cheering us on toward achieving our goals. If we all did that for each other and recognized the strengths in each other, the world could change for the good in so many ways.
In the years since I ran that first half marathon, I have run many races. Some 5ks, 10ks, 5 milers, 10 milers, 10-mile relays, and half marathons. I have even attempted Ragnar Trail (which is a whole story in itself that I won’t go into right now. Let’s just say… NEVER AGAIN.) I don’t tell you about these races because I run fast or because I want to brag about how many miles I’ve gone. I tell you because running is something that is a gift in my life. It gives me joy and grows determination in me. It gets rid of stress and can even sometimes bring new ideas to mind. It is truly life-giving for me and reminds me that there are people who love me and are cheering me on through life’s circumstances.
If you are not a runner, that’s ok. There are folks who truly despise it (I used to be one of those, in fact). Running is just something that bears goodness in my life and in my heart. Because of that, I want to do it for as long as I draw breath. My point today is just to remind you to keep doing the things that grow you into your best self, and to keep people around who are fans of the real you. You are one of a kind, and you are amazing.
A mile at a time,