I have this tendency to do things simply to prove I can do them. For example:
- Moving to New York
- Studying abroad
- Taking 15 credits of summer school in the span of a month (possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and something I wouldn’t recommend)
- Graduating with two majors (one of which I will probably never do anything with — I just wanted to have it)
Most of these things are generally insane, but I’m stubborn and can’t be talked out of them. My parents will attest to this. When I get an idea in my head, I can’t just let it fester, I have to do something about it.
My latest and greatest act of determination is this: signing up for my first half marathon.
Growing up, I was not an active kid. I was on the track team in fifth (and maybe sixth?) grade, but only by default because they couldn’t turn people away. Instead, I was relegated to non-running events, like throwing a ball across a field. Mostly just that because I was too short for the high jump and only the guys were allowed to do discus.
When we had to run the mile in middle school, I walked it. And not even the entire thing. I’d walk half and say I’d done four laps.
Gym in high school was a joke. I refused to participate unless we were playing badminton (a game I am surprisingly good at) or doing archery. I had the same instructor for three years and he quickly figured out I was not going to doing anything of merit. So as long as I kicked the ball once, or made one attempt at a basket, I got an A for the day. I absolutely refused to swim on Thursdays, not because I couldn’t, but because I didn’t want to be in a pool with a bunch of skinny girls in bikinis. Without fail, every Thursday I would tell my (poor male) instructor that I was suffering from menses (obviously this was not true) and was going to sit out. And I did. I sat on the bleachers and caught up on the homework that was due next period.
Basically, I didn’t believe in physical activity.
In college, I started to make an effort. Mostly because the gym was free and I had friends who would go with me. But I was also diagnosed with a medical condition I can’t cure that affects a bunch of internal stuff and thus makes losing weight a million times more difficult than necessary. So while I made a bigger effort, it didn’t really show.
It wasn’t until 2012 that I really decided to change my life. My younger sister was a huge inspiration, losing so many pounds I’ve lost track, and then she got my entire family involved. I don’t believe in dieting, but I do believe in lifestyle changes, and that’s exactly what I did. I learned how to eat better and I started exercising. Really exercising. I went to yoga, did those crazy Jillian Michaels videos in my apartment, but most of all, I started running.
Remember how I used to hate running? Now it has become my saving grace. New York is a surprisingly great place to run because it varies so much and has some incredible views depending on where you are. So I trained myself to do a 5k, and then I did a couple. (Side note: DO THE COLOR RUN IF EVER YOU GET THE CHANCE. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I had this year.)
I was hooked. Not just on the fact that I was running and enjoying it, but because I felt in control of my life. In about a year I lost close to 40 pounds, and completely changed the way I look at food. My stress level was also significantly reduced, which is always a good thing.
But now that I’m on the other side of that year mark, I need a new challenge. Running helps keep me sane. I’m not a morning person, but that works out great because I’d rather be in the gym or on the road after work. I get to clear my head of anything that went on during the day and just focus on the road in front of me, or the music blasting in my ears on the treadmill.
Running keeps me sane. And as I take on more things at work and in my life, I need that time to focus.
Plus, I need a new challenge. I want to run this half marathon for the fat kid I was growing up. For the fat kid I was just a year ago. I need to prove to myself that I can do it. I want to do it. Lots of people have told me I’m crazy ever since I committed to doing this, and maybe they’re right. But some people like to drink away their problems or watch copious amounts of TV. I write or I run. To each his own.
I have a scrap of paper in my wallet with two goals written on it, both hopefully to be completed by the time I’m 30. That gives me about four and a half years to accomplish them, one being to run the NYC marathon. This first half marathon is a step in that direction. It’s also another step in proving to myself that I can change my life.
And that’s a nice feeling to have.