my story

My essay, WHY I RUN was featured at Another Mother Runner - a great blog and I was honored that they shared my journey.  Here's the essay:

And a few before / after pics:

BEFORE
Today I run for a million and one reasons. You can check many of these reasons off almost any runners list: Health, weight loss, stress management, to both escape and embrace life all in one fell swoop and loop around the park, treadmill, road or track.

In order to truly understand why I run today is to know why and how I began to run in the first place.  On paper, running and I should’ve never become BFF’s.  I was a former chain-smokin’, tequila swillin’, junk food-a-eatin’ mess. I gave up smoking, most of the tequila and even managed to lose the first 40 pounds of an eventual 90 pound weight loss but still couldn’t get it together. At 37 years old, I struggled to mother my tantrum-prone, special needs, two year old, Ben. Then after 16 years in the television industry I found myself unemployed when the show I worked for was canceled. My husband and I had already burned through a majority of our financial reserves when he also suffered a long bout of unemployment and thanks to a costly move from Los Angeles back to New Jersey. Our finances went from top of the credit-rating heap to the toilet. We short-sold our ‘American Dream’ and downsized.  The final blow came when my beloved sister-in-law, Maritza, suddenly and shockingly died from diabetes-related complications during a routine procedure. Devastated, depressed and filled with despair I knew things had to change.

During a burst of optimism, I picked up a book about reaching success. It urged readers to compose a list of 100 life goals. Uninspired, I got stuck around 30 goals. However, I was hell-bent on completing the task.  I began to make things up just to finish the damn list and “run a marathon” absurdly made the cut -- sandwiched-in between “learn to speak fluent French” and “write an Oscar-award winning screenplay.”  What?  It could happen.

The book called for readers to pick one goal from the list and take “action steps” to make it a reality. “Run a marathon” pulsated from the page like a neon sign.  Thoughts like, “But I hate running,” “I’m almost 200 pounds,” “I’ve never run for a minute in my life…” “I already parler a little French…” barked back at the goal.

For some unexplained reason, I decided to just jump (or ‘sauter’ as the French might say). It hadn’t even occurred to me to test the waters by signing up for a smaller race first.  Nope. I googled, “NJ and half-marathon” found one with enough lead time and signed up.  Gulp.  It was a slow start. Day one of training I ran (and when I say “ran” I should say trudged and panted at a 3.9 on the treadmill) for one minute. I hated it but I kept going. The next day, I hated it less.

If it was absurd to me, it was as big of a joke to my friends. You? Run? C’mon. For a long time I didn’t feel like a ‘real’ runner but more of a side-show or a novelty act.

Even so, the first time I ran for 5 minutes straight I fist-pumped my success like a cast member of the Jersey Shore, the day I ran for a mile without stopping I ugly-cried like I had just won Boston. The milestones and mile markers began to add up. 

Today, I run because it is a miracle that I started at all.  A gift from the universe.  I have found confidence, strength, perseverance, pride and other adjectives that I struggle to find words for. I was an overweight victim who felt like everything was impossible and out of reach. Now I’m in-shape and content.  Running saved my life.

Things are still not easy but running makes me feel in-control and empowered. Because I’ve become a runner, I know I can learn French or maybe even win an Oscar someday. Running has taught me that the sky is the limit and anything really is possible when you work hard, put in the miles and believe.

Dec. 2011
My first one minute run was on February 8, 2010 and 1 marathon, 4 half-marathons, a few 5K’s and 50 pounds lighter, I haven’t stopped running yet. Running and me? Total BFF’s.

Je cours parce que je peux…

I run because (who knew?) I can.  

17 comments:

Jo @ simplehappyhealthy.com said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I completely understand running because you can, having never known you had it in you. Have a great running year, and am sure you'll win that Oscar if you want to!

Miss April said...

Ridiculous! Look at that progress, congrats. You really transformed yourself. So inspiring. :)

Jen said...

Thanks Jo and Miss April! I appreciate it very much :)

TurboTurtle said...

So glad to have found your blog! I was the same way as a kid--THE SLOWEST! Now I'm still slow, but am gradually coming to terms with the fact that being a slow runner doesn't mean I'm not a runner! Thanks for sharing your story!
Lisa

Mellie Sue said...

amazing :) thank you for sharing

Jen said...

Thanks Mellie and Lisa!

So appreciative of your comments! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! Your story has inspired me. I have never thought of myself as a runner...but I've attempted to jog off and on for the past couple of months and I have come to find out that I really enjoy it. I hope to accomplish a 5k someday...hopefully in the next couple of months or so. :) Again, Thank you! ~Denise

Linda Claxson said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm just re-starting my weightloss plan and blogs like yours are what keep me going.
I logged on today because I needed motivation to get on the bike (I sat on it for 5 minutes and got off again). I knew I'd find the motivation online and your blog was the first I found.
Thank you. I am going to browse your blog some more and then get on that bike.

p.s I am hoping that one day I will love running as much as you do. For now though I run because it helps me lose weight. I hate doing it but it works!

Thank you again.

Linda
My new blog
http://skinnygirlwhereartthou.blogspot.co.uk/

Kathy said...

What an amazing story!! I'm another late in life runner who started the journey in the midsts of weight loss.
Weight lost ... running on and on and on and on!

Jamie @ Running Toward Healthy said...

What an awesome set of accomplishments you have! I just started (back) on a fitness journey...I'm running again and have a bunch of weight to lose. Glad I found your blog, I'm your newest follower!

Jen said...

Thanks all - so appreciative of you swinging by and for your comments!

Jen said...

Thanks all - so appreciative of you swinging by and for your comments!

TheMomOfTwins said...

New to your blog. Great story. Way to go :)

TheMomOfTwins said...

New to your blog. Great story. Way to go :)

Renita Cuccia said...

How inspirational! Love your story and congrats on following your goal! You're awesome!

Pete Olson said...

Just stumbled upon your blog, and your story is awesome...I'm about a year and a half into a similar journey (quitting smoking, losing weight, running...1st marathon will be at Disney in January).

Thanks for putting your story out there.

Pete

mywaytofreedom said...

You are awesome!