I don’t have a running background. I started running in my mid-30’s. The most running I ever did before that was when I ran cross-country in junior high. I was terrible at it. I even dropped out of a few of the races because I just couldn’t make it the required 2 miles. Running just wasn’t my thing. I liked drawing and reading (still do). I wasn’t the least bit athletic, nor did I want to be.
This is how I stumbled into running: about 3 years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to try to have another baby. We already had our precious son, Elliot, who had just turned 3. I decided I wanted to be as healthy as possible for my pregnancy, so I started exercising. I used an elliptical and occasionally walked on a treadmill. Every once in a while, if I was feeling extra peppy, I would jog. I discovered I liked pushing myself a little, and started increasing the jogging intervals. Eventually I could run a mile, mile and a half, sometimes two. Running isn’t so bad, I thought.
Enter running hiccup #1. I got pregnant. It ended quickly, badly, painfully–an ectopic pregnancy, which needed surgical removal. It was almost 2 months before I was back in the gym, jogging again. (We never got pregnant again, but that’s another story for another day.)
Later that same year, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. It was a difficult time for our family, as we struggled to understand the diagnosis and what it meant for our son’s future. It was the beginning of a ‘marathon’ of waiting–waiting for an evaluation from the school district to see if he qualified for services (he did), waiting for all the paperwork to be processed so we could get funding to pay for those services, and waiting for an opening at the clinic. Dealing with all the red tape was a test of patience and persistence, but I was determined like I had never been before about anything–my son was going to get what he needed, dammit.
And my running gained something it didn’t have before: purpose.
I decided I wanted to run a 5K, something that benefited children with special needs. I ran my first 5K in the fall of 2014 for Sunshine Children’s Home. Crossing the finish line was an amazing feeling.
Unfortunately, I injured my leg during the race. I pulled my IT band (muscle on the outside of your upper leg) and physically could not run for several weeks. It was to date the most painful injury I’ve had. That was the beginning of hiccup #2. I had gotten a job about a month before, and the new responsibilities combined with taking care of my son, general housework, cooking, etc. were taxing me almost to my limit. My husband also was taking college classes at night, and so was away four nights a week. It was a difficult year, and looking back I’m not proud of some of the ways I handled the stress. But I’m looking forward.
When this past summer came and my job ended, I started running again. By the end of the summer, I was starting to toy with the idea of running a half marathon. Training for it has been eye-opening. I am constantly in awe of what I can accomplish that I never thought I could, and excited about what I might be able to accomplish in the future. The sky is really the limit. There is always a higher mountain. Running is a habit I want to keep for life. I know there will be hiccups. They are unavoidable. They may slow you down for a day, a week, maybe even a year. But they can’t stop you forever.