I ran the half at the Columbus Marathon this past Sunday. That was three days ago now, and I'm just beginning to walk comfortably again--except when going down the stairs. More than once today, I have forgotten something upstairs and have simply decided that whatever-it-was was simply superfluous, unnecessary. The past two days have been spent in a fog of exhaustion and pain. But, before you even ask, let me assure you that it was worth it. It was MORE than worth it.
One year ago my husband, my one truest love, ran in the same race. At that time, I was obese and mostly sedentary. I attended the marathon as a show of support, as a show of my love. If running the half-marathon was important enough for him to train for, to pay for, and to complete, then it was important enough for me to attend.
After seeing my husband (and 15,000 other runners and walkers) off at the starting line, I found my way to the final stretch and settled in to wait. Half-marathon finishers began trickling in well before I expected them to, and pretty soon I was on my feet cheering the accomplishment of dozens and dozens of perfect strangers. I was awed when the first modified wheelchair completed the full marathon in under two hours. And as the spectators filled in around me and the crowd continued to grow, each person cheering wildly as their friends and family members crested the hill to the final stretch before the finish line, I thought, "I want this for myself."
I started jogging the next day. My husband helped me create a training plan, and we chose a race goal: a 5K on New Year's Eve. When I began in September of 2010, I could only run for one minute at a time. Gradually, my endurance increased, until I was able to run/walk the 3.1 mile neighborhood behind my house in around 45 minutes. I completed that first 5K in around 35 minutes, running nearly all of it. There was one major hill near the end of the course that I did end up walking, but I was so proud of how far I had come.
Since then, I have accomplished so much more than I ever dreamed I would be able to. I lost 61 pounds. I went down six clothing sizes. With my husband by my side, I completed additional runs: another 5K, a 10K, and the Columbus Half-Marathon. I also began cycling, opting to ride my bicycle on most of my short errands during the summer. By the autumn I was ready to become an occasional bicycle commuter, relying on my Giant and my own power to get me to work, fifteen miles from home. My husband and I even completed a metric-century bicycle challenge this fall.
In the end, as great as it was to cross the finish line at the half-marathon, my proudest moment came at mile eleven. Since the day I started one year ago until I reached that mile marker, I have run 2,000 miles.
And I can't wait to begin the next 2,000...Or Die Trying.