Why did The Ugly Duckling start running?


All the way through middle school and high school I despised my physical education class. During endurance runs I used to cheat and hide behind the bleachers until I could make my way back into the running crowd without the teacher noticing. I HATED running. Hate may be an understatement. Going to the gym was never a fun thing to do. It didn’t even exist in my head. It wasn’t until my early thirties, after my daughter was born that I started allowing the thoughts of running and exercising to take some sort of shape in my head.

So I gave it a try. I began running around my neighborhood in short increments. But I still hated it. It was a chore. But I kept trying every now and then, to end up quitting a few weeks after. I couldn’t find the will. It just wasn’t my thing. I lacked the commitment and furthermore, i lacked the inspiration. Years came and went, and I continued my life without entertaining running as a part of it. Until my life started crumbling into pieces.

A lot of people take up running because they enjoy the workout, or because they want a healthy lifestyle, or because they find it rewarding. For me, it was none of those reasons. I needed to run to save my life.

Through all those years I started reconnecting, thanks to the Internet and social networking, with some of my family and friends. I would see that some of them would share their fitness endeavors with pride, and I thought how wonderful it would be to feel so strongly about something in life. I wanted to be them. I envisioned myself living a life so full that I would be excited to tell everyone about it.

And along came Robin.

Robin is my cousin on my mother’s side. She, just like me, grew up on a total lack of physical activity. But one day she ran a race in college and was hooked. Ever since she’s become – as she calls herself – an ambassador of sweat. She’s the inspiration of thousands and my personal hero. She left a career in law to become an ultra marathoner, a sports writer and a fitness coach. And she sure hooked me.

So last year, inspired mainly by other reasons, but with one constant though in mind, I joined an interval workout class called Orange Theory. Talk about a wake up call! Orange Theory left me in shambles the first week. I slammed myself into the wall of reality. I was not fit AT ALL! I was a fitness loser. I couldn’t even keep up. I went to class week after week, to come out of there thinking: will I ever be able to do this without feeling like I’m going to die every time?

At the same time my life had been turned upside down. Let me rephrase that: I had chosen to turn my life upside down. Many nights I sat on the balcony in my new apartment wondering if I would ever make it through alone, as a single mom. I sat there for hours, drinking wine and smoking cigarette after cigarette. I drove myself mad.

But the desire to change it all kept hammering my brain day after day. I needed to break through all my barriers. I needed to do something I had never done before, and certainly it needed to be something that i wasn’t comfortable with doing. I needed to fly.

2015 came along and so did running. I started training slowly, inching my way to a short run here and there. I began walking around a nearby park. Then build myself up to a jog, and then one day, I started running. I signed up to my first race on April 2015. And all hell broke lose. I ran.

That day, heart broken, with the worst history of physical aptitude and an overwhelming desire to finish at all costs, I ran the Corporate Run. A mere 5k to the eyes of experienced runners, but I finished it. The satisfaction I felt when i held the finisher medal in my hand was beyond words. I was out of my mind.

Today, 4 days away from ringing in a new year, I can safely say I love running. I have run 6 races, and countless training hours. I am in no way, shape or form an expert. I still struggle through every run. I’m slow, very slow. I still stop and walk through each and everyone of them. My mantra is “one more minute”. But I run. I finish. I have created a version of myself I never dreamed of. I broke the mold.

Race medals have become my most coveted form of jewelry. Race bibs the most treasured pieces of paper. When I lace up, and put on that number, there’s only one thing in my mind: the next mile. And then, the next mile after that. And one day, when I’m really old, surrounded by my grandchildren I will proudly say: your grandmother was a runner. She learned how to fly.

Photo credit: http://race-for-freedom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/running-background-1920-1200.jpg

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