“Who am I?” That was the big question consuming me. For 16 years, I had been “Mom”. My mission in life was to be the perfect mom. Wanting that drove me to put my needs last. My life consisted of working full time and driving my kids everywhere. To rehearsals and practices, games and performances, I was driving until 10:00 p.m. a lot of nights.
I got to my breaking point. I was tired; tired of being in my car, tired of the monotony, but mostly, tired of doing for everyone else but me. I needed desperately to take control of my life. I had to stop being the family chauffeur. That was hard. There was a lot of guilt involved. I equated my sacrifices as rungs on a ladder: The more I sacrificed, the better a mom I was. I had to learn that I was a good mom regardless. I had to let myself do things for me and be ok with it. It took some time, but I made progress.
Finally, I had time for me. Now, what to do with it? In July, my lifelong friend Julie called and asked if I wanted to do a Couch-to-5K program with her. I thought, “I am 43 years old; how great would it be to accomplish this?” I agreed immediately. But when I hung up, the doubt started creeping in: “I’m not a runner. I hate running. I haven’t run since 8th grade. What in the world was I thinking?” I wanted to back out. But once I commit to something, I do it. So, I decided to change my attitude.
I downloaded an app so I could track my training. I read anything I could find. The biggest motivation came from an article that said, “Your mind will give up before your body will.” This gave me hope. I just needed to control the negativity. I was not going to throw in the towel. I was going to conquer this! I began to look forward to my training. For the first time in my life, I felt a part of something. I was a runner. I ran, rather slowly, but I ran. I pushed myself.
The pivotal day of training came in Week 5. Up to that point, I had not run more than 8 minutes. But that day, the program called for 20 minutes. “20 minutes?! Who wrote this training program? Is this a mistake? It has to be. How can a person jump from 8 minutes to 20? I thought this was supposed to be for beginners?” I was officially freaked out. I had to talk myself down.
I told myself that I just had to go 10 minutes. And I did. But at 10 minutes, I kept going. I aimed for 12. At 12, I hadn’t died so I said, “Go to 16, double what you did last time.” And when I got to 16, I knew I would do 20. I was dragging but nothing was stopping this girl. I had a goal and I was going to make it.
When I did, I was joyous. In 5 short weeks, I went from 60-seconds to 20 minutes without stopping. I was overcome with emotion. I started crying there on the trail. I got some strange looks, but I didn’t care. This was a personal victory.
After that, every minute longer I was able to run became an emotional celebration. “I am strong, I am enduring, and I am succeeding.” I had never seen myself as an athlete. I didn’t think I had the fortitude for it, But I did. I was running!
The morning of the race was sheer terror. I woke at dawn, stressed. “My training only took me to 2.8 miles, not quite a full 5k. What if I can’t finish? I’ll embarrass myself.” But once the race began, a feeling of strength overwhelmed me. I knew I would finish. At 43 years old, I’m proud to say that I ran, and finished, my first 5k. Crossing that finish line is something I will never forget.
Running changed me. Of course I got the physical benefits of losing weight and toning my body. But the best part was what it did to me mentally and emotionally. It changed my life. I feel a confidence I’ve never had. I feel stronger than ever. I finally believe in me! I will be forever thankful.