During one of my (more serious) pursuits of fitness, I got into running. (I’d like to mention that when I was younger, I used to run a lot just for fun…and just stopped for no reason.) Then I decided to take it up again and decided I was going to run a marathon (hey, it wouldn’t be me unless it’s all or nothing). So, yeah, I did my research (coolrunning.com was my go-to source for all things running) and made a plan.
I started with the Couch to 5K podcast. At the time, there was only the original, but now you could probably find one to suit your musical tastes or just make one yourself. Then I signed up with a mentoring program (as in, I was going to mentor underprivileged high school students, though it may seem it should have been the other way around). We trained with the students on weekends.
During those runs, I wanted to cry so much because of the stories they told me about their lives (don’t get me wrong, some of the runs were painful enough to induce buckets of tears as well). But, not to make light of their situations, these students were my inspiration and motivation. I mean, to have gone through the things they did and still come out at 6:00AM on Saturday mornings was enough to light a fire in me. But, along the way, I injured myself and didn’t know if I could continue. I was advised not to continue, but I thought about the students and what it meant to them and I wanted to go the distance (pun intended). So I did. I told myself I would take it easy and stop if I felt the running would bear more injury.
One of our toughest runs was right before the race. We had a 20 miler and it rained buckets. I wasn’t sure if I could finish. I know for sure I cried because of the distance and the rain, but I was determined to see it through. And, lo and behold, we finished the run. I’m not sure how or what got me through it, but I knew if I could get through that then I could get through the actual race. I mean, really, what’s another 6.2 miles, right? (Lolsob.)
So race day came and I wasn’t feeling all that great, but after having endured the 20 miler, I knew I could do it. Sure, my time wasn’t great, but I finished. Damn, did I finish and damn did I cry in the end. My husband was waiting for me at the finish line (he’d probably taken naps in between since I took For.Like.Ever.). What kept me going was not only the students, but a mantra I kept saying to myself. See, about 6 miles into it (yeah, still a WHOLE freakin’ 20.2 more miles to go!), I hit a wall. If you’re a runner, you know what I mean.
I saw people collapsing alongside me and wanted to go with them when aid came to their side. Their race was over, but I knew I had to continue. After 13 miles, I really slowed down and told my students to go ahead of me. It took a lot of prodding on my part, but I promised them I’d see them at the finish line, whether we made it there together or not. Along the way, I met another woman who was in the same boat as me and we ran the rest of the race together. That’s the great thing about the running community, it’s a race for yourself, but you’ll always find someone to share it with.
Oh, and that mantra I had running through my mind? “An object in motion stays in motion.” No matter what I was feeling, I kept telling myself to just keep moving and kept repeating my mantra. I never stopped for bathroom breaks or whatnot. I just kept moving and somehow, I saw an end in sight. The finish line. It was glorious. And, I guess you could say, it was kind of a metaphor for life. Like, when I have problems, I just put my head down and work. Somehow, when I do that, things just seem to work themselves out.
So that brings us to today. See, after the marathon, I hit another wall. I couldn’t fathom the thought of running ever again. Like, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER again. Until now. I’m ready to get back into it. Fiercer than ever and more determined to do better. Because I know I can. And I will. So, I guess it’s safe to say running will be a part of my new fitness routine.
P.S. All of the students completed the race and the pride and joy they had that day is a feeling they will have for the rest of their lives. Now, there’s something to smile about.