Well, it’s been one month since I ran in and completed my very first half marathon! And it’s actually really hard to believe that I did it or that it was even something that was in the realm of my abilities to do (due to my own personal demons and things I was told/experienced as a young lady about myself and who I was and was not). So I have to remind myself that I did actually do itJ. Completing this race was not only good for my body and physical self, but it was so good and needed for my heart and my attitude toward myself and who I am. And what is even more strange is that I’ve had at least a dozen people tell me that I’ve inspired them. It is so odd to me to hear people say that. I’ve never considered myself as inspiring. I’m very flattered, but again, I don’t often believe in my own abilities and impact. So that has been a big thing for me.
This whole process has changed my life! It was like my own little personal Breakthrough trainingJ. I never could have imagined how training for a run would have caused me to grow as a person. It was the hardest and most amazing thing I have ever done in my life to date!!! The only thing I can possibly think that could top it would be giving birth to my child some day. It really was a phenomenal experience. I find myself walking tall, speaking my mind more – having greater confidence in myself and who I am.
When I was thirteen years old, I had a coach/teacher tell me I could not be on the basketball team because I was fat……..That one moment totally changed me and my life. I allowed that one comment to dictate who I was, what I did and who I was going to become. That day taught me that I was limited. There were things that I couldn’t do, even if I wanted to. I was less than. I wasn’t good enough. My size dictated my worth. And shame on me for thinking I could be/do something I’m not. A fat girl is not an athlete. A fat girl is not beautiful. A fat girl is not confident. A fat girl is not popular. So after that moment, I learned to be what people expected of me. I allowed others to place me in a box. I became the quiet, bubbly, nerd who was smart and a band geek. That was who I was. And I have carried this around with me ever since. As I have grown into an adult, I am still effected by this one moment and continue to limit myself for the fear that someone will tell me I can’t do it because I’m the fat girl and fat girls shouldn’t do that.
So eighteen years later, I allow my crazy friend Erin to convince me to train for a half marathon. And during the whole process, I was just waiting for the moment when I would fail, when I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. But that moment never came!!! I did it! I really did it! I ran 13.1 miles. It took me three hours and twenty-one minutes and I may have been the last person to cross that finish line, but I did it! And I had such a great support system and all of my friends were there cheering me on and Erin was there running along side me the entire way. And the moment I crossed that finish line, I began to weep. Part of those tears were about the physical and mental exhaustion of what I had just done, but most of those tears were about something much bigger. In that moment, I took back my life!!! Eighteen years ago I gave it away to hate/judgment/ignorance. But when I crossed that finish line I proved to everyone, and most importantly, myself, that I am so much more that “the fat girl!” I am strong. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am an athlete. And I can do anything I set my mind to! So now I have a new moment to look back on that can help to shape who I am and who I become. That race was so much bigger than just running around the city of Kalamazoo. That race was about taking my life back and for the first time – living it!