In 2006 one of my best friends ran a half marathon. She was already fit but wanted to challenge herself in a really big way. When I saw that medal around her neck, I thought, “Heck yes. I’m doing that.”
A bit of history first: I was an overweight child and then I turned into a very overweight teenager. By 14 years old I was close to 240 pounds and horribly insecure about it. When I was told, “You have such a pretty face,” I also heard, “but your body is awful. Too bad you’re so fat.”
By the time I was 17, I’d dropped a hundred pounds by developing life-threatening eating patterns and doing a very good job at keeping them a secret. It wasn’t until I started having irregular heart palpitations my freshman year in college that I knew I had irrevocably affected my health.
Though the four years of disordered eating subsided, the body dysmorphia has never gone away, nor do I think it ever will. This is my lot and I’ve accepted that it won’t be cured but instead be managed. The fact of the matter is that we have to eat to live, so at least three times a day I’m reminded that food can either be a friend or a foe. It can either nourish me or break me. Some days are better than others and I can say with confidence that running has been a life saver.
In pursuit of bling: I don’t have that box of trophies in the basement like many of you because I didn’t play sports as a child. Never mind that I wasn’t coordinated or competitive – I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath! So when I saw my friend with her new medal, I recognized it as an opportunity to make a big change. I could finally get a trophy, so help me God.
Though I was already somewhat in shape, I wasn’t a long-distance runner nor had I thought about becoming one. It was a huge leap to go from walking and occasional jogging to running 13.1 miles. I downloaded a training program from Runner’s World and followed it religiously. In April 2007 at the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, I got my first-ever trophy for a physical activity.
I cried, and I was also hooked.
Since then, I’ve completed 20 races – 18 half marathons, one full marathon, and a four-person relay. As long as my mind and body cooperate, I will continue. Because even though I’m not supermodel skinny or the pants size I wish I was, I am strong and healthy. This is the only body I’ll ever have and time is too short on this earth to live in deprivation and despair. Additionally, running clears the cobwebs in my brain and helps me to center my thoughts on what’s important. It’s a daily task to keep my sights set on what’s good.
What’s good is crossing a finish line and getting that trophy around my neck.
2007: Country Music Half Marathon, Nashville, TN
2007: Louisville Half Marathon, KY
2008: Scenic City Half Marathon, Chattanooga, TN
2008: Country Music Marathon, Nashville, TN (*first full marathon)
2009: Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon, OK
2009: Albuquerque Half Marathon, NM
2009: Chicago Half Marathon, IL
2010: Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon, Dallas, TX
2012: Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon, TN
2012: Georgia Publix Half Marathon, Atlanta, GA
2012: Secret City Half Marathon, Oak Ridge, TN
2014: The Middle Half, Murfreesboro, TN
2015: Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon, Townsend, TN
2016: Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon 4-Person Relay
2016: Santa Hustle Half Marathon, Sevierville, TN
2017: Highland Half Marathon, Maryville, TN
2017: Farragut 13.1, Farragut, TN
2017: Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon, Ft. Oglethorpe, GA
2018: UC’s Rhododendron Run 5K and Half Marathon, Charleston, WV
2018: Flying Pig Half Marathon, Cincinnati, OH
2018: Royal Borough of Kingston, England (*first international medal)
2018: Santa Hustle Half Marathon, Sevierville, TN
One day I won’t be able to do this. Today is not that day.