Saturday, April 25, 2015

When the Impossible Becomes Possible

Today, the day before my 40th birthday, I ran my first half marathon.  I was not bitten by the running bug.  I still do not want to run a full marathon.  I am still a very slow runner.  I didn't lose any weight.  My goals were (1) complete the 1/2, (2) run the entire thing without any walking, (3) do not finish dead last.  I accomplished all of those goals. In fact, I am pleased with my pace.  Although it is slow, it is pretty darn good for me.  But more than anything else, here are the reasons I did this.  I wanted to show myself that 40 is just a number.  Tomorrow I will hit that number and it's not the end of the world.  Most importantly, I wanted to prove to myself that I can do hard things.  Things that I once thought were impossible.  Like running 13.1 miles.  Like training outside in a frigid Wisconsin winter.  Like running in rain, frigid wind chills, blustery winds, up hills, in heavy snow and sleet.

Several years ago, some friends talked me into running my first 5K.  I had never run 3 miles before.  Even when I was an active teen playing sports, I would just do 2 mile runs to stay in shape.  Running a 5K was a huge deal to me.  I couple years later, I got up the courage to run my first 10 K.  After successfully completing that, I had my first fleeting thoughts of trying a half. I have since run a few more 5Ks, but the next time I attempted to train for a 10K, my knees started bothering me and I had to stop.  I really didn't think I could do another 10K, say nothing of a half.  Then last summer I did a running challenge.  I ran every day but Sundays for a month.  I started at 1 1/2 miles and every three days I increased my distance by 1/2 a mile.  By the end of the month I had reached my goal of 5 miles.  I was encouraged and decided that maybe in the past I hadn't pushed myself hard enough and that's why it took me FOREVER to build up my distance.  Then we moved.  And I got really sick.  I was so anemic in September that when I would attempt to go for a run, my muscles would almost instantly cramp, I was light-headed, and so winded I couldn't run a quarter of a mile.  So I spent the fall just trying to get my body (and blood) healthy again.

Which leads me to my take-aways from this process.  I'm so thankful for my body.  Our bodies are truly amazing.  8 years ago, after the birth of my youngest child, I developed a DVT, a blood clot in the deep vein of my leg.  For a month I was completely bedridden and in excruciating pain.  I could barely walk and mostly used crutches or a wheel chair to get to doctor's appointments.  I was so grateful when I was able to walk again and I haven't taken it for granted since.  Now, after my poor health in the fall, I find myself grateful once again for the blessing of a body that can heal and re-gain strength and will carry me through the rigors of training for and running 13.1 miles.

I am also thankful for my family, the greatest support in my life.  They have encouraged me to run when I didn't feel like it, put up with late dinners, Saturdays taken up with long runs, and me checking out occasionally at inconvenient times to get in a run.  They have never complained, only encouraged and supported me.  My heart was so full each time I saw them along the race today, cheering me on and giving me high fives.  I loved that Jesse and Renie ran the last bit with me and Lincoln was at the finish line to hug me as I came across.

So, in summary, 1. 40 is just a number 2. I CAN do hard things. 3. I am grateful for a healthy body and 4. I love my family.