“I’m not a runner.”
That was my most common response whenever my friend, Raciel, tried to convince me to run a race with her. I just never thought I had the capability to run. It seemed to be something only really fit people do. Chubby girls like me don’t run, we walk.
I held on to this belief until one day, it dawned on me that my 20s were almost at an end. Whoever told me that time flies by once you hit 25 wasn’t kidding! I turned 25 and before I knew it, 30 was staring me in the face. I guess you could say I had a quarter life crisis. I wasn’t sad to be leaving my 20s behind. What saddened me was that a lot of goals I thought I would’ve accomplished by the time I turned 30 were still unrealized. At the top of my list was my goal to lose weight and to become more physically fit. This is actually something I’ve wanted to do since I was in high school. I just have never been very successful with it.
So, last year, I decided that this would be my year. I’d lose the weight for sure and I’d do it by running. And I thought, what better way to motivate yourself than to sign up for a race? I looked for a few local races and was instantly drawn in by the surf board medals given out by the Surf City Half Marathon. I registered and vowed to start training immediately. The months before the race, I was running 2-3 miles pretty consistently. But for some reason, I couldn’t follow the half marathon training program. The month before race day hit, I had completed only 3 runs: a 3 miler, a 5 miler, and a 7 miler.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Surf City was disastrous. On top of being physically unprepared, race day conditions were horrendous. It was extremely cold (in the 40s/50s) and it never warmed up. It rained pretty much the entire race, and the rain drops were flying almost horizontally because it was SO windy (gusts up to 35mph). There were puddles everywhere. My thighs were red, rubbed raw by wind and rain. And if that weren’t enough, I also didn’t have the right race nutrition (no supplements) and I was wearing the wrong running shoes… which incidentally led to me developing plantar fasciitis on both feet and a bone bruise on my right heel. I spent the last 5 miles hobbling to the finish line.
Yeah…. Surf City sucked the big one.
When I crossed the finish line, I was incredibly grumpy and I vowed I would never do anything like this ever again. But the funny thing is, as the days and weeks passed by, the pain eased away. And when the excruciating pain you felt begins to fade and get fuzzy in your memory, you start to think crazy things like.. “hey, I can do that again!” and “not only can I do it again, I can do it better!” haha The fading memories of that horrible experience were only part of why I decided to give running a second shot. What really got me going was realizing that as horrible as my experience was at Surf City, I didn’t quit even when I had every opportunity to.
I tell this part of my Surf City experience a lot because it was a huge turning point for me. I remember the moment vividly. The medic buses were driving up and down the course route, picking up the injured, and I won’t lie, I was really tempted to wave one of them down. By the 9th mile I was completely ready to throw in the towel and just ride one of those damn buses to the finish line. No shame, just absolute relief from this torture. Just then, a woman with only one leg ran by me. She’ll probably never know this, but without her, I never would have finished the race. As I watched her run by, almost as if she were moving in slow motion, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. First, I thought about how pathetic I was for wanting to quit when I had two perfectly healthy legs and here was this woman who only had ONE LEG running the race, finishing. And second… if she can do it, I can do it.
So I gritted my teeth, put my head down and I ran as much as I could and I walked when I couldn’t run any more. I was hobbling and in a lot of pain. But I crossed that damn finish line, and I did it on my own.
It’s funny how one terribly horrendous race started my running odyssey =)
Before I knew it, I was signed up for another half marathon. And by the end of the year I had committed to doing my very first marathon, the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. As I started running more, the pounds started to melt off and I got stronger and faster.
Sitting here now, almost 2 years since I started this journey, I’m completely amazed. I never thought I’d enjoy running. I never thought I’d ever lose the weight. I never thought I’d ever run a marathon. But I’m doing it. And if you were to ask me now if I am a runner, I would say, “You bet your ass I am!“