Ever had a moment where you made a decision changed you? Eight years ago I remember sitting at my cubicle shoveling in Hot Tamale’s that my co-workers Dori had brought in (Dori is the girl who can eat anything and look amazing but I look at candy and gain 10 pounds) and she bounced over with an idea.
“Milla, what do you think about doing a half marathon?” Dori smiled running around my cubicle. Well, the fact is I had never run before. I hated running. But here I was sitting 8 -10 hours on my butt and still carrying baby weight from my son. (OK I had him 5 years prior but that stuff just stays on)
I had no idea how long a half marathon was or even what the training looked like – but I needed to do something and Dori’s energy was contagious as she squealed in joy when I said: “Well why not?”
Dori had recruited a few more people with her half marathon vision all of whom were in WAY better shape than me. “So let’s run 3 miles to start, this will be fun!” she exclaimed jumping around like a puppy. We started and I about died. The girls all smiled and quickly floated through the air while I was huffing and puffing. I had a feeling like someone stepping on my chest, my stomach hurt, I couldn’t breathe and I had to walk. People enjoy this I thought to myself.
They all ran off into the distance and here I was walking alone on a trail feeling like a complete failure. The fat one, the out of shape one, the one who just couldn’t do it.
Dori had turned around and passed me on the way back “Doesn’t this feel amazing??” she yelled as she flew by me not really wanting to hear the answer. Nope it didn’t feel amazing I felt like crap, my eyes swelled up with tears this was not fun not amazing and I didn’t love it.
The next few weeks of training were more or less the same. I showed up, and I was the slowest, and I finished last. I’d like to say I just kept going and never gave up and it was amazing….. But that’s not how this story went. I missed training runs. I had excuses. I was tired. It was cold outside. Busy weekend. Had to spend time with my son, husband, mom, anyone! Not only did I not want to go I actually dreaded it. It’s was not fun being last, or the slowest, or the fattest. I considered dropping out. That is until my child changed my mind.
That week my five-year-old had shared with the class he was proud of me because I was a “Runner.” I certainly did not see myself as a runner maybe more like a slow crawler….. But I was inspiring him. He didn’t see my slow speed or inability to keep up with the group. He saw me as the person I couldn’t – As a Runner. That day I changed I HAD to do this for my son.
I started attending the training… rain … cold…. hungover - didn’t matter. I still ended up running mostly alone. Every day I thought to myself “I’m getting stronger every run.” It was hard to give up beating myself up and embrace the fact that I was improving. I wasn’t the big loser I had imagined in my mind. The running group that I was envious of not only was there cheering me on but many would run that last mile with me encouraging me. I just had to open my heart to it. All I had to do was just show up.
I finished the rainy half-marathon a little over a 12-minute mile and I couldn’t believe it. I went from not running a mile to 13.1 at a pace I could be damn proud of.
What I learned:
It takes time – Don’t expect unrealistic goals. Anything new takes time. The more you show up the better you will get.
Don’t compare – It was so hard to not compare myself to the beautiful ladies in the running group who made running seem effortless. The more I focused on me and the better I was getting the more I enjoyed my accomplishments.
Celebrate the wins – You run a mile for the first time without stopping … Celebrate it! You deserve to be proud of you for each journey along the way. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Ignore the voices – You are your biggest obstacle. The voices saying you’re not good enough, fast enough, or skinny enough are Wrong! The voices that tell you to look for excuses should be tuned out immediately. Become present in your own mind.
Just Show Up – This is half the battle and the hardest part. If you show up, you are already half way there. Treat it like a job, schedule it and do it!
Eight years later I’m still running and am no longer the slowest in the group. I’ve run a 1:36 half marathon and a 3:32 marathon. Now the best part of running now is to inspire others like me to skip the excuses and show up!