We’re welcoming a new guest blogger to the OSC website whom we’re calling Runner Girl. She is an OSC employee who enjoys writing and runs for the health benefits. She subscribes to a healthy lifestyle and plans to share tips about how we can all make simple changes to enhance our wellness.
Hello, hello! I was thrilled when one of my coworkers approached me about writing for the OSC blog. Every one of us has a voice and a story to tell – I hope that my writing gives you something, even if it’s just an occasional giggle or an encouraging word.
A bit about me: I’m just a 40-something year old gal who is trying to be the best version of myself. I have a husband, young children, a home, work full time and manage activities and a bit of a social life for my family. We’re a busy bunch, but a big priority for us is health and wellness. That’s different for everyone, but for us, that means that we try to eat healthy and make time for exercise most days of the week.
At this point in my life, exercise is an early morning, quick run before getting myself and our kids ready for the day. I became a runner by accident. I was working for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the late 1990s. Their Team in Training program was in its infancy – participants raise money for the organization in exchange for a marathon training team and support, plus travel and an entry bib into a race. My dear friend and co-worker and I watched the tear jerker VHS video one afternoon in the office about helping kids with cancer. We immediately decided we needed to sign up for a marathon. Back then, organizations were only doing full marathons (26.2 miles), not half marathons like they do today, so a full was our only choice. My friend and I excitedly signed up for the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage Alaska, created our fundraising webpages, and got to work on our plan of attack.
It may interest you to know that, prior to signing up to run 26.2 miles in Alaska, I had never run more than 3 miles in my life. Let that sink in for a second. It’s insane, right? The aforementioned 3 miles was ONE TIME in college as the final exam in the lone Physical Education class I had to take to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. So, obviously signing up to participate in a 26.2 mile run made clear sense.
The Team in Training staff gave us training calendars for beginner runners. It started off with walking a couple miles and slowly worked up to the longest run we’d do before the marathon: 20 miles. Upon seeing “20 MILES” in bold letters on a Saturday in the really-not-so-distant future (five months), I questioned both my sanity and my ability. But I went for it anyway.
The Anchorage team began meeting for long runs on Saturday mornings. I was in my early twenties, living with girlfriends in Georgetown in Washington, DC. I was not amused by rising at 6am on a Saturday in January to meet a group of people to run. But, the group runs grew on me. I can’t say I fell in love with the actual act of running, but I learned that the experience of running is so much more than one foot in front of the other. I loved the sense of accomplishing something that I had never been interested in exploring, but quickly became so committed to completing. I loved the physical high, the sense of euphoria that came from these sessions. I loved crossing off the trainings week-by-week on the calendar. I loved the friendships that were forged over those miles, and afterwards when we ate breakfast or iced our knees together. As time went on, I so appreciated looking back at how far I’d come, recalling the days that I couldn’t run for 5 minutes without stopping to walk. I had never been empowered by something that my body could do. It truly was a life changing experience.
The marathon went well – I finished, which was my goal, and I was NOT last! There was a lot of wilderness, dirt, rocks, and hills. In fact, there was a hill named “Suicide Hill” near the finish line. That was intense. The marathon was like a walking/running picnic. There were so many spectators cheering on the runners, giving us water, sports drinks, fig newtons, protein bars…The support was incredible. I did not expect that at all. The kindness of strangers carried me 26.2 miles.
Friends and I stayed for several days in Alaska after the marathon. We did a lot of sightseeing, went camping and white water rafting, and ate the most ginormous King crab legs I’ve ever seen in my life. It was awesome.
I really never had any desire for running to be a hobby, but it found me, and never truly let me go. Since that time almost 20 years ago, my commitment to running has come and gone, again and again. For us non-athlete types, it can be challenging to make exercise a true lifestyle. Ultimately, it comes down to taking that first step, no matter how daunting it might be.
In closing, I want to share a few inspirational quotes with you:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.”
“She believed she could, so she did.”
“The expert in anything was once a beginner.”
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”
My personal favorite: “Start by starting.”
As humans, we are constantly accomplishing things we never thought possible. I encourage you to set a realistic goal and go for it, whatever your “IT” is. Write it down. Look at it daily. Start the work. You can do it! I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines!
(The photo on this page is from one of my early morning runs – what a gift it is to see the sunrise! Also, please consult your physician before starting an exercise program).