As a running coach, I am often asked how long I've been running and how I got started. I usually give the "my older brother was a runner" story of how I got started and that I've been running since middle school. There really isn't anything magical or extraordinary in the how I got started as a runner. It's the why I keep running that I don't often talk about.
Up until 2009, I was like every other runner. I ran because it was fun, social, competitive, all of the above. I challenged myself with new distances and goals and I kept going because it felt good. It's what I have always known. It's what I always did. It was "my thing," if you will. But in 2009, why I ran changed. In the spring of 2009, we found out we were pregnant with our second child. We were excited and nervous about adding another family member. And even though I had some troubles with my first pregnancy, we were full speed ahead with Baby #2. But in July, 2009, those plans came to a screeching halt when we lost our baby at 17 weeks. I won't go into the details because they are still quite painful all these years later but this was by far the most tragic thing to ever happen to me and us, as a couple. Delivering a baby that we never got to hold was the very worst thing to ever go through and I still think about the little boy we lost. In those weeks and months following our loss, I went into a deep depression and never thought I'd do anything, let alone run, again.
Granted, I still had to go through the day-to-day of our lives. I still had to go to work, take care of our son and go about life as best as I could. About 2 months after our loss, the fall season of Girls on the Run began and I shifted my focus to these girls and our team. I can honestly say, this is what helped saved me. When coaching, you leave your crap at the door. You need to turn off whatever you're going through, especially when coaching kids. Having that hour twice a week where I didn't have to think about anything but just laugh and play games and run made me feel like a person again. I started running again shortly after the season started but it was horrible. I was so mad at my body for failing me that running caused me too much emotional pain. I'd often have to stop after about half a mile to catch my breath and try to stop crying. I felt so out of control with everything, but especially my body.
I threw myself into coaching. In addition to Girls on the Run, I was also coaching adults privately and in a few groups. I really can't tell you how much helping others helped me too. I saw these people, of all ages, challenge themselves and take control of their lives with this one simple act of running. So I kept at it with my own running. I would soon be able to make it a full mile before crying. Then 2 and so on. I clearly remember Thanksgiving 2009 and running 5 amazing miles that morning. And so I hesitantly set a goal: to run a 50K.
Why a 50K? Well, I had done a number of marathons at this point and felt that I needed more. I needed to prove to myself that my body was capable of doing some grand. That if I could get my body to finish this race, maybe I could love it again. Maybe I wouldn't be so angry. I chose the Greenway 50K in March 2010 because it is put on by the local Road Runners group and I could train on the course. It is also low-key, less stressful and more fun than road running. So now that I had something to focus on, I moved forward. I trained hard, through a brutal winter with 3 different blizzards. I was lucky to have a great group of friends to train with and lean on when my miles were filled with more tears than laughs. And on March 6, 2010, I crossed the finish line of my first ultramarathon. It was such a bittersweet moment. So happy but still so sad. But when I crossed that finish line, I made a promise to myself to keep moving forward. To respect and honor the past and all the heartache I went through, but move forward to live the life ahead of me.
|Can you tell how cold it was during that |
first 50K based upon my snazzy outfit? Sheesh!
And so I keep moving forward. Shortly after that race, we found out we were pregnant with twins (we found out the day before the anniversary of our loss). We also found out we were moving across the country from the Washington, DC area to San Diego. As soon as our girls were born and we were settled here in CA, I started my coaching business and started running again. I continue to move forward because it's what keeps me sane. I challenge myself with crazy races and ultras because I need to see and feel that my body is not the mess I once thought it was. My body can handle anything I put it through. I still can't believe I finished a 100K just a few weeks ago. I will keep pushing until I can't anymore. I may have setbacks and hiccups like the issues I'm dealing with now, but they won't stop me from trying anymore. And that is what helps me help my clients know their bodies can do the same thing. We are capable of so much more than we think. We just have to try. And keep moving forward.
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading!
In addition to the blog hop, I'm also linking up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy for the Coaches' Corner blog link up. Check these awesome ladies when you're done here!