I don’t want to run. It’s not something I ever wanted to do. I was never good at it. I never enjoyed it. Through 15 years of marriage, I had always turned my husband down whenever he asked me to go running with him. So imagine my surprise when I found myself running with my next door neighbor! And NOT hating it!
Last March, I found myself tipping the scales at 204 lbs. Since I’m only 5’2”, this was not the ideal body weight for me. I decided to do something about it, and joined Weight Watchers online. By a strange coincidence, my neighbor had also joined Weight Watchers the very same day. I probably hadn’t said more than 3 words to this neighbor in the 3 years that I had lived right next door to her. ‘How ya doin’ was probably the extent of our run ins. But through some strange set of events, we found ourselves discussing weight, and how we both wanted to lose it. Knowing that it’s always easier to try to lose weight on the buddy system, I suggested that we walk in the evenings after work.
We started our nightly walks the very next night. And we continued to walk, and to talk and to become good friends in our efforts to lose weight. Until that fateful night she said: “Hey, we should try to kick our workouts up a notch. How about trying to run a little?” “No thanks,” was my immediate response. “I don’t want to run.”
“Come on, just up to that stop sign,” she urged.
“No, I hate running. I don’t want to,” I whined.
“Oh come on, we’ll go slow, let’s go, let’s just try it.”
And that’s when it happened. That’s when I started to hate her. I ran to that stop sign, and the next night, I ran to that next tree. The next night I did one half lap around Morgan’s Grove Park. It was that fateful night when I just knew I was going to die. I got into her car after that half lap, that .40 mile, and my face was numb. I think she thought we were going to have to make a trip to the ER. But I did it. And after some practice, I made it one full lap around. And then two. And as I completed these laps, I found the weight coming off much easier than it ever had.
By June, I had dropped to about 185 lbs. And at the end of June, we signed up for our first 5K. It was the Cougar Challenge. How embarrassed were we that our first race was named after middle aged women who chased younger men? Ok, it was really for the High School Cross Country team, but we still giggled at how we were in our 40’s and running a Cougar Challenge. When we signed up, our goal was just to finish. I stated quite often that I didn’t care if I finished dead last, as long as I did finish.
And that’s exactly what I did. I finished dead last with a time of 42.40. But I finished. I was so overwhelmed that I cried. My two daughters were waiting for me at the finish line, as were my new-found running sisters. My neighbor and two of her friends had also finished and came back to cross the finish line with me. What a fantastic feeling! Not only was I losing weight, but I was accomplishing something I never thought I’d ever do! I finished a race, a 5K, without the need of paramedics. Quite a sense of accomplishment.
My new motto was: “I’m only doing this for the T-shirt.” We ran another 5K the next month in Richmond and I had shaved about 5 minutes off of my time. I was still not IN LOVE with running, but the results were unbelievable, and passing people during a race was secretly very cool. We then registered for the Freedom’s Run, and bumped up our distance to a 10K. I thought I had lost my mind taking on that distance, when I was so comfortable running those little 5K’s. It made them almost seem easy.
Race day came and it was a beautiful morning. Cool but not cold. I had friends come in from out of town and we were all pumped for the race. I ran my butt off, but the switchback coming up off the Canal was killer! I finished the 10K with a time of 1:10. That free beer at the Bavarian never tasted so good!! By this time I was down to about 170 lbs. and continued running because the results were definitely worth it.
In March, we ran the Race to Register 10K, which made us eligible to register early for the Marine Corps. Marathon. Did I ever think I’d even CONSIDER running a marathon? No flipping way. But then I ran the Marine Corps. Half Marathon in May and it didn’t kill me. My quads didn’t speak to me for about a week, but I finished that run in 2:35 and absolutely LOVED crossing the finish line with all those Marines waiting there to congratulate me. What a rush!
Now I find myself training again, this time for a 26.2 mile race. I’ll be running the Freedom’s Run Half Marathon in preparation for the Marine Corps. Marathon on October 31. I’m down to 140 lbs. 64 lbs lost since last March. I still can’t believe I agreed to run this race, but this time last year, I never thought I’d be running a 10K. So that just goes to show you, never say never. Unless your neighbor says she wants you to run the JFK 50-miler with her. That’s when you tell her to put down the crack pipe.