One year ago – October 2016 – I decided I wanted to achieve a dream of mine…
I wanted to run a half marathon.
I don’t know when I fell in love with running- but I can remember falling in love with fitness around the age of 18, and running just became a part of that.
Normally, that was only a 1 mile run on the treadmill before a workout in the gym. I preferred running over the elliptical because it just felt more ‘free’ to my body.
However, I never did more that 1 mile for awhile… for years actually… until I got a bit older and began outdoor running. I fell in love with outdoor running and started doing 2-3 miles.
I remember there were times I would verbally say “I wish I was a runner- but I just don’t have the body type for it.” I believed I was too ‘curvy’ to run long distances, which I know now is a lie. I just had to train my body- like all things in life that we do – we train, we grow, we achieve.
As I grew in my outdoor runs, I remember at the age of 23-25 being able to run 3 miles, then 3.5- and then finally I got to 4 miles. I was so proud of these runs! They were a huge milestone for me, and became a way for me to de-stress or have some alone time when I lived with roommates.
One year for Christmas, all I wanted was a treadmill- which I got and put in my garage with a huge fan (bc Charleston is sometimes just too hot for me to run in without getting a massive headache). I would set up my laptop in front of the treadmill and watch a 45 minute tv show as I ran… I saw my running time improve so much over those months.
There were periods of my life where I just lacked the time to run- or just wanted to change up my workouts. But I always came back to running. It was what I enjoyed most.
My only problem with running was my knees. When I did more than 3 miles, my knees would kill me the rest of the day- and sometimes I felt like I could barely walk up the stairs. However- I have changed my diet drastically the last few years.
I found my body reacts to gluten, corn, and dairy. Gluten is a big no-go for me, because the reaction is so severe but corn and diary definitely make it hard on my body after I eat them. I didn’t know this back then because they were a constant part of my diet, and I think I lived in a constant state of inflammation in my joints and body- getting sick often and aching all the time. But I just thought it was genetics. However, after altering my diet, I found a lot of healing for my body in those areas.
Last October I decided I wanted to run a half marathon. Simply because it was one of those things I thought I could never do- and I suddenly believed in myself. So I started training.
The funny thing was, I had no half marathon to train for!
So I made a training plan and wanted to run a half marathon on Thanksgiving Day… by myself.
Well… I trained, and found it really intense on my body. I couldn’t follow the training plan exactly- but I did learn how to listen to my body through it. I went through injury and recovery, along with finding what foods fueled my running and what foods hindered it. I also suffer with scoliosis – so I learned how to take care of my back after a run by always stretching and doing yoga. I also learned the importance of rest, and how much a busy and active life takes it out on my body. Stress also interfered a lot.
I learned a lot in those months last year- and it lasted from October-January, where I got up to 11 mile runs… but I couldn’t keep up with the time it took to do these long runs, and with no real half marathon to run- I decided to go back to my shorter weekly runs of 3-6 miles. I also started having a few health issues, and I thought it could be due to running too much.
However, as 2017 went on, I found my health issues were not due to running. I had a friend message me, and I don’t know what she said exactly, but it encouraged me to start running and training again- and believing in that dream.
I found a half marathon in October this year, and decided I would start training. If I felt I could get to 10 miles before the date, I would do it.
When I was at 8 mile runs, I signed up… all of a sudden it became real.
With 4 weeks to go before the race, I began to get nervous. Thoughts ran through my mind “What if I can’t do it?”
My right knee suddenly began to hurt after runs, and even give out. I got sick for a bit, but recovered quite fast, however my knee would continue to give out. I looked up supplements and started taking fish oil, glucosamine, eating lots of avocados, and upping my protein with more fish and adding hemp protein powder to my diet. I did find this helped dramatically, along with not wearing heels throughout the week. My knee soon got better- but now the race was just around the corner.
I was able to do 2 ten mile runs before the race; and my last 10 miler was less that two weeks before. It was suppose to be an 11 miler, but I just couldn’t run anymore after 10.4 miles. Because of this I began to get even more nervous about the race- feeling like I just couldn’t do it.
I am so fortunate to have had two girls running the race with me- we didn’t train together, but we encouraged each other a lot. They were always telling me I could do it, and with them fully believing in me, it helped me conquer my doubt.
The week of the race, I could feel the fear rising up in me. I chose not to dwell on the negative ‘what-if’s’ and just knew I would go out there and do my best. I created a new run playlist and watched my diet that week- no alcohol, lots of protein, good fats, and good carbs- no processed food and especially no gluten, corn or dairy (not that everyone should avoid those food- they just don’t do so well for my body). But to be honest, I was terrified inside.
The days before, I had some unexpected changes to my schedule and became very busy and tired- and I was talking to a friend, expressing how I felt so many things were coming against me in this dream of mine- (my knees giving out, my change in schedule, tiredness and just being a bit afraid)… when my friend then replied “Just don’t do it- you don’t have to you know…” and something inside me just laughed as I responded “No- I do have to! This is my fear that I must conquer- because fulfilling this dream will be worth it!” And it’s as if my response to my friend was actually my spirit rising up inside of me, speaking truth and giving me that final push of – You got this. Go for it.
The morning of the race, I was actually excited- knowing that there was no turning back.
Like so many times in the past-
I chose bravery over fear, because I could feel the calling within my Spirit to be Free. I don’t want fear to set the limits of my own life. I want to live limitless, because that’s what I believe God created us to be.
I caught the tram with my running girls, and we headed to the race. There was a glorious sky just seconds before the race started- reminding me that this was a new day. A day to achieve dreams.
The race was hard. I’m not going to lie. It was fun at the start, but after about three miles in- I could feel it in my body. My stomach started to cramp and it was unusually hot for England. I began getting a headache and was constantly pouring water over my head to cool myself.
Then there was that glorious sight of the finish line- and just before I reached it, I spotted my love there- cheering me on with his camera. In that moment, I felt like a million dollars. I was so happy.
I crossed the finish line, and slowed to a walk- suddenly realizing- I could barely walk! My legs felt stiff and like Jelly at the same time. But as I looked around I saw all the runners walking in this same funny way- so I knew I was okay.
After I was out of the way I collapsed on the pavement to catch my breath and wrap up with the space blanket they gave me in my winner bag.
I was so happy with my run time as well! I thought I would be a lot slower.
After a brief rest I met up with Shanen and my team, and we headed home. I was on a nice high, even though my body felt like it would crash at any second (which is kinda what I did when I arrived home). But nothing could take away from that feeling of achieving something in my life that was once impossible.