I remember the day that I realized I could run. It was in the third grade during recess on a crisp autumn morning. Everyone knew that Carrie Y. was the fastest girl, or at least that's what she bragged and she was quick to challenge anyone to a dash. She usually won, and a lot of the times the boys would even lag in her dust. Third grade is kind of a good time for boys and girls to physically be on an even playing field and Carrie took full advantage of that. I was fairly new to the school and it didn't take long for her to start boasting of her speedy prowess.
I don't know if it's stubbornness or pride, but I couldn't abide by her premature gloating. So reluctantly, I tightened the laces of my Keds, tossed my jacket to the pavement and lined up next to Carrie. One of the other girls shouted, "GO!" and we were both off. Of course Carrie took the lead, but I'd be damned if I was going to let her win. My little feet churned across the playground and I felt as though my feet never touched the ground. Carrie slowly started to lose her hold and in an instant I had her. I don't know if she flat out gave up, or if I was indeed a better runner, but I passed Carrie and never looked back. I had the fastest girl in school beat and she was not pleased. Many years later when we were on opposing track teams, she gave me that same glare of contempt even though we were in different events.
Later in life I ran for different reasons than I did as a kid. My junior high years were spent on the track team less as a passion and more as a place to fit in. In high school it was a coping mechanism for low self-esteem. In my early twenties, it was for dumber reasons including burning off anger at ex-boyfriends or lack of boyfriends or trying to get hot to snag a boyfriend (see? dumb reasons). All of which is to say that my reasons were never really based in being healthy. It was just something I did.
Now here I am at thirty and still a runner but for the same and yet very different reasons. If I could go back in time I would shake the fluff out of my younger self who was so full of self-loathing. I always used to think I was chubby and the ugliest one of all my smoking-hot and tall friends. But to look back at photos of myself in my twenties, I was a smiley and very skinny kid. What was my freaking problem?! Now I'm thirty pounds heavier (ugh) but the healthiest I have ever been. Huh? Healthier? Yeah, I said it, healthier.
I count calories, I focus on fresh fruit and veggies, I have cut out all boxed foods, I am conscientious of how my family eats, and we all get up off of our butts. All of my biggest running achievements came long after Ava was born - I have run multiple 5Ks, 15Ks and even my first marathon. But somehow getting that extra weight off has been nothing but an uphill battle since the day after Ava was born. I would be lying if I said that the extra pounds didn't affect the way I feel about myself, but right now my biggest issue is my overall health and knees. It has become abundantly clear that my family breeds bad knees and I am already feeling the effects of my ski instructor days not to mention the crashes and tumbles. If I want to keep moving for the rest of my life I know that I need to take some of the strain off my knees and the biggest impact that I could make is my weight. Again, ugh.
So hello treadmill, my old friend. Hello calorie counter and hello even less fun food. I even succumbed to buying a scale that calls me overweight. Nothing like being shamed into your running pants by a heartless digital scale. I'm not even close to being a candidate for Biggest Loser, but it is going to be a challenge nevertheless. Perhaps by summer I can reward my success with these: