Healthy Living: Jessica's Story

>> Friday, September 17, 2010

Jessica writes:

Ashley -- I LOVE your blog. Especially the healthy living fitspirations. What wonderful reassurance that we all battle certain demons with getting comfortable with our bodies. (Thanks, Jessica! We agree -- this series ROCKS!) It's been so refreshing to learn how different people have come to appreciate them for the wonderful tools they are. My healthy living post illustrates how I learned to accept myself as a runner -- which wasn't an easy process :-)

I've always identified runners as being tall and thin. They wear short shorts and visors. They have strange contraptions for drinking water and wear big watches. Runners breeze past me as I jog at a snail's pace.

So basically, I'm not a runner. A jogger, maybe, but not a real runner.

Am I?

Up until last November, I had never run a race longer then 4.2 miles -- Pat's Run in Tempe, AZ. For some reason, around my 26th birthday, I began having hallucinations about completing a half marathon. I call these inklings "hallucinations" because that's how unrealistic it seemed that I would ever actually pursue this. Because every time I went running, all I could think about was stopping.

Nevertheless, with the support of a close friend (a real runner, she's done marathons –- plural), we began training together for a half marathon about a year ago. We had the best of intentions, but the problem was as life got busier, training got more demanding. We both realized about halfway through training that it wasn't a good idea to attempt the race. We instead opted for a 10-mile race that was going to be held around the same time.

After the 10-miler, I was really sore and really tired. And really mad at myself for not working a little harder and going for the half. A few months later, when I got an e-mail announcing the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego, I decided to try again.

Training for the half this time was more successful than before, I think -- in part -- because I told everyone I encountered about it. I made myself so darn accountable that even my coworkers were tracking my mileage.

In the month before the race I ran into a few challenges that almost threw me off course again (two puns, both intended). My hip started bugging me, work got painfully busy, and I caught a cold. I thought, several times, that this was not meant to be. The difference this time around, however, was that I knew better than to come this close and bail again.

The race was in June, over my birthday weekend, and I'm still amazed –- and thrilled –- that it happened. It was a struggle, no glossing over that, but what a rush to cross the finish line!

My friend stayed with me every step of the way -– bless her heart. I had some moments of serious whining and self doubt but refused not to finish.

  1. Can’t shouldn’t be in anyone’s vocabulary.
  2. Anyone can be a runner.
  3. Your time doesn’t really matter, you just ran 13.1 miles.
  4. A race expo for 45,000 people is completely overwhelming.
  5. Medals are the new black.
I was astounded by the array of people participating in the race. The Rock 'n' Roll series is hugely popular and for good reason. There's so much going on throughout the course, and so much support, there were actually moments I forgot what I was doing. I saw people of all ages/shapes/sizes/abilities/whatnot along the course. I started to have the heartwarming epiphany that not only was I NOT going to finish last out of 45,000, but if all these people were runners, maybe I was too? Corny, I agree.

And . . . I finished. It was really hard, especially the last mile, but WOW -- what a rush to actually finish. I'm so glad I had the experience of the race, and moreso, the experience of pushing myself so far beyond my comfort zone.

Thanks for reading my story!

Jessica (check out her blog (mis)adventures)

In need of some healthy fitspiration? While you're here, you can read more great stories like Jessica's -- as well as submit your own healthy living story to be featured on our site!

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