And a few before / after pics:
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.
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.