It’s hard to believe that 3 years ago today, I was on my way to our local paved running trail. I wasn’t dressed in “real” running clothes (thick, cotton socks included), my shoes didn’t fit me properly, and I was only at the beginning of my weight loss journey. I knew nothing of running fuel (GUs, Sport Beans, and Chomps that are eaten during long runs). I had no clue that there were such things as compression socks or fuel belts, and I didn’t own the first sports bra. As I drove there, it didn’t matter that I didn’t have or know about those things. I had a crazy idea in my mind that I was toying with, and the closer that I got to my destination, the more nervous and excited I got. Maybe it was the chill in the air that made me feel extra hopeful and energetic. Maybe it was because I’d been slowly building up to it, and something inside of me just knew it was time.
By the time I drove up, I’d made up my mind. I was going to try to run the entire way today. I assured myself that I could walk if I needed to, I could stop if I had to, but, I was at least going to try. Today was going to be the day that I did something that I’d never done before. I was excited and I was scared. I had no time in mind. My goal was to finish. I clutched my Ipod in my hand that had my new Nike+ receiver plugged in along with my sensor safely secured in its pouch on my shoelaces. I had no rituals to go through, like I do now. I didn’t know what a PR was, even though I was about to set my first. I hit play on my Ipod and started running. I was RUNNING! Yes, I had been running before that, but it was running and walking. I knew that I’d shown up planning on not walking and suddenly, everything seemed different. I was slow but that didn’t matter. (My average pace was 12:08/mile.) I kept telling myself to just keep going and reminded myself that I could stop if I needed to – but I didn’t need to. As the miles ticked away in my ear (there’s a lady that speaks to you in your ear when you use the Nike+ program on the Ipod), I began to feel a sense of overwhelming excitement . I felt like a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon!! A million thoughts were rushing through my mind. I was going to be able to say to people, “I’m a runner!” I couldn’t wait to call my husband and my parents! As the final feet of my run ticked away, I was smiling while tears streamed down my face. I had done it!!! There aren’t sufficient words to describe the feelings I felt when I finished that first run. I probably looked as though I’d just won a race or qualified for Boston but it was much more than that. My life had changed and there would be no turning back. There would be setbacks but that’s just how life is. Three years and 1430 miles later, that day is forever a “Red Letter” day for me. It was a day that I was reminded that I could do whatever I set my mind to do. As I drove back home, it never crossed my mind that I’d be getting ready to run my 2nd marathon 3 years later but here I am, 3 weeks away from it. There was no “Slow is the New Fast” blog or Facebook page but because of that run, both of those exist. Those first steps I took set me in motion for things I’d never imagined. I’m so thankful for my family and friends who encouraged and prayed for me when I was first starting out and keep doing so daily. I know that I’m now a healthier version of me because of the decision I made 3 years ago. I decided that things didn’t have to stay the same. I realized that it was up to me to do something about it because I was tired of sitting on the sidelines of life and watching it go by.
If you’re reading this today and you feel like I did – like you know you need to do something different, why not start today? Take those first steps towards changing your health. It doesn’t mean you have to go run. It may mean that you make the decision to start drinking more water, eat less sugar or start walking 15 minutes a day. Whatever it is, don’t forget to celebrate those positive changes, no matter how small you think they are! Change isn’t always easy but being unhealthy and feeling bad isn’t easy either. I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s a slow process and it will take determination but it’s worth it in the end.
If you start today, who knows what you might be celebrating a year from now? 🙂