Let me preface this post a bit. My name is Courtney, and I am a recovering skinny-bitch-aholic. My activities through age 27 included .75 years of dance line. Before age 27, I was on the treadmill a hand full of times to “walk.” Translation: I was on the tread mill hoping that guys lifting weights would stare at my ass. I didn’t know that strong was better than skinny; I didn’t realize that athletic activity could be for me. My “adventures” included opening up charge cards at various retail stores and gossiping about people too much.
And my favorite quote was…”If I have to run for my life, I’d rather just die.”
So when I decided to start running, I had absolutely no idea what the hell I was doing.
I began my running career at age 27 after the rude awakening that 53 pounds of baby weight wouldn’t magically melt away. I wanted to explore ways to get back to my “old self.” That is how running and I met – at rock bottom – and running changed my life in ways I didn’t think were possible (different post, different day).
When I started running, I told myself – in a very serious, stern voice – that I would not be a fast runner. I had no business trying to run fast! I had zero experience with sports and popular athletic activities. I didn’t run track in high school. I complained about walking up the steps, and if you want a clear picture of how I felt about any outdoor activity, ask my husband about the trail he wanted me to walk during our honey moon.
Fast runners were born fast. They were genetically more capable. They’d likely been running for years. They probably had professional coaching at some point. None of that applied to me.
I was fine with being a slower runner. I started to enjoy my sport so much that it didn’t matter whether or not I was fast, and people supported me no matter what my times were.
And then one day, I ran a race slower than usual…and I was pissed.
I guess I should have realized that being a perfectionist would permeate into athletics. I earned one “B” in graduate school and cried in the parking lot of Taco Bell (I didn’t even eat there…I had to pull over somewhere because I was sobbing so hard I couldn’t see…) for a good half hour.
Suddenly, I decided, “I want to be fast.” I didn’t know how or where to start, but I was sick of miles over 11 minutes. I didn’t care if I was sore; I didn’t care if I was tired…I wanted to embark on the journey of running faster.
I suffered three injuries in two years: 1) severe bone bruise; 2) torn hamstring; 3) ITBS in both legs. My response: Heal and get the hell back out there.
My 11:00 miles turned into 10:30; my 10:30 miles turned into 10; my 10:00 miles turned into 9:30, and second by second, I chipped away at my time.
Last week, I ran a 5K. I came around the bend and saw the clock was below 28 minutes, and I realized I’d run my fastest 5k to date. I ran miles below 9 minutes, and that’s definitely not something I ever expected to do. Before that day, I looked at race results and thought “Man, that person ran miles under 9 minutes. I want to be able to do that some day.” “Someday” has now come and gone.
Someday, I want to run a 5K under 25 minutes. Then under 20 minutes.
Someday, I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Someday, I want to look back and make sure that I was proud of my journey and not just the moments where I shined.
Someday, I want to look back and make sure I remember the time I quit a 3 mile tempo run, paced at 9 minutes per mile, because it was too much to handle.
Someday, I want to chuckle at the time I wore gloves, an ear warmer, pants, and a hoodie to run in mid 50s because I had no idea how to dress to run in different weather.
Someday, I want to remember just how damn I proud I was of myself because I won my age group for the first time when I hit a 27:34 5k.
Someday, I want to stare at the photo of my first 10k, the one of my arms held up in victory, when I finished it in just under an hour.
Someday, I want to remember lagging behind the 8:30 pacer a one-miler and having to step off to the side to walk because I could barely breathe.
And someday, someone is going to see my times and think “Man, she’s fast. I’m just not cut out to be fast.”
You are, my love. You are.