When I started this journey a couple of years back I had no idea of the many layers of benefits it would reap. I hoped only for one thing – to lose some of that dag-blasted weight I had gained seemingly overnight! That was truly my only desire, that I get rid of the weight and not have to buy new clothes or see any more pictures wherein I didn’t recognize myself. You see, I had been fortunate all these years, weighing most nearly the same weight , except for during pregnancies, that I had since college. I was even one of those women who dropped the baby weight almost instantaneously. Mid life held a different, new and not welcome circumstance for me. If I gained weight, I could no longer just eat a little less for the coming week and see it disappear. At this point I had started working a desk job and found myself 40 pounds over my ideal weight. Something had to change.
[Written in the winter of 2010-2011] My husband brought home a treadmill saying it would be good for both of us. To this day, he has run a sum total of one half of one mile on it. I am past keeping up with the number I have logged. I sludged through those first few weeks, doing one 11 minute mile and giving myself 8 minutes of cool down walking and one minute of stretching. That was my 20 minutes and I knew that was the start I needed. I only lost a couple of pounds those first few weeks and it was frustrating, but I started to feel something stir inside of me that had long been asleep. Not quite sure what this stirring was, but finding it to be familiar and not altogether scary, my curiosity grew. Almost inexplicably, I would find myself rolling out of bed at 5:00am, looking forward to trudging through the now 2 miles I could run and trying to up the pace a little. The stirring grew louder. I found some oldies but goodies in our music collection and put them on my ipod. I started recalling some of the greatest times in my life as I ran each morning. And although sore, I would arrive at work each morning just beaming inside, for I knew I had accomplished something already, something no one could take from me.
Having grown up a competitive swimmer and now starting to feel stronger with my running, I took what was for me the next logical step: I entered a race, a short one, a 5K. I came in second in my age group and that was a wonderful feeling. But you know what was even more fun? Having my then 4 year old son holding my hand as I picked up my race number and both he and his brother watching in rapt curiousity as I pinned it to my jersey. My husband kissing me as I went to the starting line and wishing me good luck instilled pride that I was doing this. And seeing all three of them beaming and cheering so loudly for me as I crossed the finish line was unforgettable.
Since that first 5K in 2009, I have run three half marathons, countless other 5Ks, a 10 miler and several triathlons. At each of these events, when it was possible, my children have insisted they be there and that they serve by volunteering at the races. They watch as we all, sisters and brothers in the family of amateur competition push ourselves to become better. And they ask questions. Lots of questions.
You see, I have found and continue to find through this journey many, many things. I found fortitude I thought I had lost along the years. I found time and an outlet for myself to be me. I found a new way for my family to connect with one another. I found a way to be an inspiration to my children.
Today, I rode alongside my 6 year old as he rode his bike to school for the very first time. In the past he would ride on a trailer bike behind me (great training work, by the way!). But today I got to watch as he pumped his little legs mightily to make it up that last BIG hill to school. I got to cheer for him” “keep pedaling, push harder, you’ve almost got it, you are doing great!” When we got to school, his face flushed with pride, he looked at me and asked “Mommy, is this what it feels like when you finish one of your races?” “Yes, my dear, it is exactly what it feels like”, I answered.
Today, the forty pounds of extra weight are gone. I achieved that goal. Along the way I found so many more goals to set and some completely unexpected gems as well. Today I am training for my first Half Ironman Triathlon; something just a mere three years ago I would have never believed possible for me. I have watched as a group of supportive and wonderful women has grown up around me through my efforts of helping other women to find that same sense of accomplishment for themselves.
But most of all, I have found a way to connect with my children that I never would have if that treadmill had never shown up at my door. When one of them is struggling with a task that is difficult, I am able to relate it to the hard work I have put in to get to many of those finish lines. Are the miles always fun for me, I ask? I help them to see their finish line and how to get there.