Elizabeth found my blog and responded to my “writer’s wanted” request by sending me this great click! After you have enjoyed the story below you can visit her blog here.
I’ve never been able to run. I can remember sixth grade PE, sprinting the 50-yard dash and hating it. My arms and legs didn’t talk to each other, didn’t move in sync. I looked like a circus act, the girl spinning all the plates in different directions. My plates were my limbs.
I’ve always pitied “runners,” how they have to have their fix, whether on vacation, or down with the flu, despite flash flood warnings and lightening strikes. I despised their complaints about missing a run, how they were “off” that day because they didn’t get their six or nine miles in. Poor me, I’m a runner and couldn’t run today. Pull out the violin.
I’ve thought runners were running away from something, like people become newborn Christians after a tough divorce or alcoholics start hitting meetings after waking up one too many times in the gutter. I didn’t see the benefit of escapism, didn’t think I was hostage to any bonds that needed breaking.
Running was the last thing in life I wanted to do, right after swimming with sharks and joining the Marines.
Last summer, through a series of small and unrelated events, I discovered the true path of a runner: A runner isn’t sprinting away from anything, she’s running to something, or someone or somewhere so important to her that she simply cannot make it through the day if she doesn’t at least try to get there.
I get it now.
I’ve run three half marathons and pair of 10ks in the last several months. It’s only 13.1 miles a pop, but I’m proud of myself, proud of the hundreds of miles I’ve put into training. My confidence is at its peak; my body stronger than it’s ever been in my life. I’ve become an athlete at the age of 43. Unbelievable.
I am a leaner, lustier version of myself. I am the no-nonsense me everyone used to know, love and sometimes fear. I celebrate the return of the me who took bullshit from no one; the me who vowed never to become complacent or lose her way in life, but sadly did.
I no longer shun mirrors, and actually pause now and then to smile at myself. I seek, rather than refuse, confrontation, and as a result have enjoyed some thrilling showdowns. Modesty is out the window; bad news for my kids and the dressing room boy at the Gap, but good news for my creepy neighbor. My closet is a fun place to be again, especially because everything in it is new and smaller and sleeker. The bitch is back with a purse full of spark and sass.
I refuse to step on a scale for fear of getting lost in the numbers game. Pound for pound, I have no idea how much of me is gone. I used to joke that is doesn’t matter how you feel on the inside, but how good you look on the outside. I was so wrong. They’re intertwined: you can’t be beautiful on the outside if your insides are hurting. And if you’re beautiful on the inside, you’ll shine like a penny.
More benefits of my transformation? For the first time, my body is a fuel-burning machine. Thanks to its hum, I can eat whatever and whenever I want. I used to eat nothing and keep my weight. Now my taste buds dance and my body continues to carve what I think is becoming a delicious figure.
One of my brothers was inspired to walk after viewing my improved physique in running clothes. At 40, he’s seeing what a lot of guys his age are: that little fluff of dough that hangs over the belt. Chicks call theirs “muffin tops.” If I can galvanize him to better his health, my job as a big sister is complete.
Who are those I am running to? I run to my friend and soul mate, Chris, who I lost last summer without a goodbye but who cheers me on from above with a bunch of obnoxious claps. I run to my family, and to the promises of lifetime love and laughter I’ve made to my children. I run to their smiles and the smell of their skin, to their complete understanding why running is so important to Mommy. I run to my father, who I miss desperately, despite seeing him daily in the faces of my kids. I run to my mother, once so vital and strong, who I’m afraid can’t take care of herself anymore, and who finally seeks care from me. I run to three brothers who each need a big sister for different reasons; I want to be all of their reasons, every single one of their answers.
I run to my cousins (who invited me to my first half marathon) and their daughters, to the bond of four women united by the love of their mothers and the laughter that causes them to wet their pants. I run to friendships and decades, to intimacy without judgment or prompt, to those that love and respect the old me as much as the new one encourages them. I run to those that challenge and inspire me to be a better person, inside and out. I run to those I write to, to those who read between my lines, whether succinct or sauntering. I run to those who need me. I run to those that run to me.
Most of all, and this is the truly spectacular part, the concept I still can’t wrap my head entirely around. For the first time in my life, I see myself as something worth running to. I am running to myself. Away is no longer an option. Bring on the mileage.