When I became a part of Running Grrrl I had no dreams of being the fastest runner or of even completing a half marathon. Lealah asked me to become a part of a running group and I said “yes”, because she's my friend. I had no intention of really becoming a part of the group. I figured I could tell her that I was working, something came up, and I would just keep excusing my way out. Not because I didn’t want to be a part of the group, but because it was running.
Growing up, I loved running. I realized early on that I could totally beat all of the boys, which meant I was always picked first for games at recess. Sometimes on the weekend my dad would take me out to run with him. We would go out and run from telephone pole to telephone pole, and I would relish every “win”. As I grew up running remained a part of my life. In high school and college my tennis coaches would laugh that I wasn’t the strongest hitter, but I could outlast most opponents and run down every ball.
After college I had an on again, off again relationship with running. Remembering the fun that I used to have with it I would come back and try to pick up where I had left off, only to be punished for my absence, left panting and sore from muscles I'd long forgotten. It was that relationship that I always came back to.
And then I started dating THE EX. Running became our thing. We did a couple of 10ks or just ran the bike trail on date night. It was great. And then we broke up.
I have never been one to trust easily. I spent many years building up walls to ensure that I wouldn’t be hurt. And then when all the walls came down I was told I wasn’t worth it by the person that I’d built my life around. I shattered.
In the aftermath of the breakup I threw myself into work and running. In the moments of silence that I had I would beat myself up and review every aspect of the relationship, and then I would cry to the point of throwing up. Where had I gone wrong? I rationalized that the demise of the relationship was due to some flaw in me. In an attempt to silence everything and assert my worth I started training for a half marathon and I made the horrible discovery that physical pain is easier to bear than emotional pain. I couldn’t bear the immense sadness, but I could handle running to the point of exhaustion. I slowly began to punish myself. But I loved the pain, mostly I loved knowing that I was the one inflicting the pain. And I vowed that nobody would get to hurt me again. I took what I had once loved and twisted it into something dark and painful.
A month and half went by with little sleep and constantly pushing my body. I dropped to 89 pounds. I couldn’t walk up stairs without getting light headed. And then I got sick. The doctor said that I was putting too much strain on my body which had led to an infection. I was exhausted. I stopped running when I came home.
I moved shortly thereafter and started to rebuild my life. I rediscovered all of the things that I’d given up. I went back to church. I fell back in love with writing, tennis and music. I made new friends and realized that I could stand alone and be alright. It took a year and a half to gain back the weight that I had lost, but it was a physical reminder of what I had done to myself and how far I had come. The girl that I once was, the girl before the boys and the self-doubt, re-emerged- strong, passionate and optimistic about the world around me.
Occasionally I would run. I would run for 10 minutes at the gym. I would run while playing tennis or chasing the dog. But I no longer ran for fun. And then Lealah asked me join the group.
Like I said before, I had no intention of joining. But Lealah's enthusiasm was infectious and the next thing I knew I was standing at Montana de Oro with a group of women I didn’t know, praying that I wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown. Before I started running I promised myself that at the first hint of pain I would stop. I was afraid that all of those old feelings would come rushing back. But there was no pain. I was met with smiles and words of encouragement. And I only felt relief when I finished. Still, I thought it was probably a fluke. I decided to tempt fate and ran the next week and was just as hesitant, but nothing happened except being slightly sore. My fate wasn’t entirely sealed though until Miracle Miles. Running on the beach, surrounded by people, they all just melted away. It was just me. No iPod, no self criticism just the sound of the water and my own breath. And I realized that I was happy. I was HAPPY. Perhaps the hardest thing to do is forgive yourself. But I'd finally done it. I could no longer punish myself for all the could'ves, should'ves and would'ves. Those old ghosts had been vanquished and there was nothing more to prove to anyone else or to myself.This was the running that I loved, the running from the playground, running after my dad to the next telephone pole, running to get to the ball. It had come back to me.
So Running Grrrls, thank you. Thank you for giving me back a piece of myself. You have no idea how inspirational and awesome all of you are. This group has allowed me to safely push myself and rediscover myself and running. I love how supportive everyone is and know that my success is your success as well.