August 15. For the last 14 years, this day has been an important one for me. Today, it was an emotional one as well.
In 2001, this was the day my life was forever changed. It was the day I nearly died. I had surgery-related complications, my blood pressure dropped drastically, and I was rushed to the ICU. After nearly a month of hospitalization, I was released to start life anew.
My body, mind, and spirit were transformed by the surgery and its aftermath. My new life brought many new adventures. I traveled. I continued my education. I changed jobs. I changed where I lived. I met and married an amazing guy. I instantly became a parent to his children. We struggled through infertility and miscarriage and eventually added more children to our family. There is so much I could write about these years (and I will in future posts), but for now I want to focus on the present.
Today I ran a 5K. It wasn’t my first. It wasn’t my fastest. It wasn’t even my longest race. It was my most emotional.
About a year ago, I made a serious commitment to becoming a healthier person. I’d always been good at making others a priority. This became more true after becoming a wife and mother. I was getting lost in the needs of others, in the various issues of life, and I needed to change before I got swallowed up completely. I decided to take up running and joined a group called Moms on the Run (MOTR).
This might not sound like a big deal to most people. It was a big deal to me. For most of my life, I was morbidly obese. I referred to myself as an “avid anti-runner.” I couldn’t understand why anyone would subject themselves to the horrors and pain of running. Now… I understand.
On August 23, 2014, I officially ran my first 5K. It was the end of season race for MOTR. I can’t say thanks enough to the women of MOTR. They supported me through the season. When I felt weak, tired, or wanted to quit, they kept me going. I also have to thank my husband and kids. They are my strongest supporters, biggest fans, and the reason I want to be the healthiest I can be. Without all of them, I never would have been ready to run that race.
I had walked other 5Ks. My very first 5K was the Monster Dash in 2011, held at Lake Harriet. A group of coworkers did it together. It was the first time I realized a 5K could be a good time – they weren’t always all about speed or distance. However, successfully completing the MOTR race in 2014 flipped a switch in me. I felt I actually might be capable of being a runner.
I set a goal for myself. I wanted to complete a race each month for a year. I knew that would be the only way I’d keep running through the long, dark, cold days of a Minnesota winter. I didn’t make that goal. … I annihilated that goal.
In the past year, I’ve run 16 5Ks, 3 10Ks, and even a Half Marathon!
Today’s 5K brought so many experiences together. It was at Lake Harriet, the same location as that first Monster Dash. I thought about how that first one planted a seed without me even realizing it. It was my last race of the year in which I set that running goal. I thought about all I’ve accomplished in the year and how many people have helped me. It was also a race for an organization called A Breath of Hope. It was a fundraising run for Lung Cancer research. On August 15, 1988, my Dad died from Lung Cancer. In 2001, my BonusDad died from Lung Cancer. I thought about both of them and how I wished they could be here to see me, meet my husband, play with my children… so many things.
I shed a few tears when I crossed my first 5K finish line. My eyes welled up when I crossed my first 10K finish line. I threw my arms in the air in celebration when I crossed my half marathon finish line. I cried today before I even got to the finish line. Thinking about all the things today’s race represented – how far I’ve come, how much I’ve gained, and what I’ve lost – I let the tears flow.
I’m not sure what my goal for the next year will be. Complete more 10Ks? More Half Marathons? Maybe even run a marathon? Who knows?? For today, I’m just going to appreciate my journey to here.