I love to run.
For most people I meet, that’s enough. They automatically make assumptions about my lifestyle, wardrobe, attitude towards BBQ, and Saturday plans. And most of their assumptions would be correct. I try to be healthy, wear mostly Lululemon when I’m not at work or church, and spend most Saturday mornings running (I LOVE good BBQ, though).
Usually, they also assume that I’ve always been a runner. But I wasn’t.In 2005, I looked like this:
I weighed 235 pounds. I was unhealthy. Unhappy. And I definitely couldn’t run.
One January night, after I was already in bed, I realized that I’d had enough of being overweight and miserable. I got up. I put on a pair of running shoes and headed down to the gym in my apartment complex. And I haven’t missed more than a week of exercise since! It took me five years, but I eventually lost over 120 pounds and ran my first marathons this year — two in two weeks, in fact, but that’s a story for another post!
As much as I love running now, my weight loss didn’t start there. Although I had always dreamed (literally, like at night) of running, I had never been healthy enough to run. I played soccer and swam in high school, but was never fit enough or dedicated enough to be truly good. I was a scholar, and publicly I pretended I didn’t care that I wasn’t an athlete. But secretly I wanted to run. I figured it would feel like flying. I dreamed it would feel like flying!
As I graduated from high school and entered college, I gained not just the freshman fifteen, but seventy pounds. I was good at school, good at work, but not good at exercise. I continued down that path until that night in 2006, when I started by walking. I walked a lot. And after three years and losing 60 pounds, I entered into a 5k for work in 2010. I think that 5k race was harder to finish than my first marathon, but I loved it. The feeling of accomplishment was so amazing.
I started running more and more. Once I was able to run 6 miles I signed up for a 10k. That year I ran my first 10-miler and two half-marathons. And this year, I completed two marathons, and plan to run my third in November (the Seattle Marathon). I’ve experienced running-related injuries, running highs and running lows, but I can’t imagine what life would be like without running. Sometimes, I feel like running is me achieving my childhood dream, just as much as pursuing my PhD or visiting Europe.
Last year, I was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease, which means I cannot eat gluten. Running helped me to deal with the stress of figuring out what to eat – and eating a gluten-free diet allows me to keep running.
I’m more than my gluten-free diet though. And I’m more than my 120 pound weight loss. I’m also more than a PhD student.
I’m a runner.