January 20, 2009

Life is FUN!

I can remember quite clearly the day I realized how fun life can be. For too many years, I was so busy worrying about my body image and diet pills and binges that I never really realized what it felt like to really enjoy life. After years of abusing my body, I decided to try and heal it the good old fashioned way. I began eating healthy, whole foods that my body needed and exercising each day for about 30 minutes. After about three months of this, I began to notice a change in myself and in the way I spent each day. On a whim, my sister and I decided to sign up and train for a 10K race. To explain how inexperienced I was with running, I will start by saying that I was probably the only person at the starting line, in a crowd of 12,000 people, who had absolutely no idea what a K was and even less of an idea of how far I would be trying to run that day. All I knew for sure was that I had practiced running for three months and that I was definitely in better shape than all of the old guys around me. Little did I know that many of those same old guys would cross the finish line before I even saw the 2 mile marker. My first mistake of the day was when I decided that a 6:00 minute mile sounded like a reasonable pace. I found my corral, jumped around a bit so that I would look like the other runners around me and gave my sister's hand a quick squeeze. I wish I could tell you that we took off running and were natural born runners but a lot can happen in the first mile of a 10K. For instance, who would have thought that 12,000 people could rush past you at such a great speed? Or that the brand new shoes you bought last night, now felt about three sizes too small? Or finally, that your sister, your training partner and the reason behind all of this craziness, would sit down on the curb after the first mile and with huge tears rolling from her eyes, take off her shoes and tell you to finish without her? Trust me, this wasn't at all how I had envisioned the day. In the next moment though, I made a decision that changed my life. After finding someone to help my sister make her way back, I took a deep breath, gave a little wave and set out to finish what I had started. Over an hour and a half later, I finally crossed the finish and although depleted of every ounce of energy, I took my first real breath of life. Along the way there was a lot of pain, a lot of walking, quite a few tears and intense desire to quit but for the first time in my entire life I was proud of my body and it what it had been able to accomplish. Instead of hating what I looked like and how I felt, I began to view my body as a strong and powerful gift that was capable of amazing things. I have an intense desire now to take care of my body and treat it the way it deserves to be treated. Since that day, I have finished countless races from 5K's to ultramarathons and even Ironman and while every race has taught me something else about who I am, this first race gave me life and breath and joy.

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