Lucky Number Seven and my final half marathon in the books. And a chapter I can finally close.
Five years ago, I started a challenge with the goal of completing seven half marathons. I was a different person. Physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I was 30 pounds heavier. I had a substance abuse problem and very little will to survive. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a disappointment. Someone who had given up. Who had no hope.
I knew I had to quit running from my problems…so I decided to start running to face them instead. Now I’m not athletic…never have been. And I’m definitely not shaped like a runner or fast. I wasn't looking to compete against anyone but myself. And something about that runner’s torture triggered feeling in me again. I had been so numb for so long and the time I spent on the trails and pavement forced me to face my demons head on. I became more and more grateful for this life and for my strong legs and blistered feet with every mile.
“I GET to run,” I’d tell myself on the hard days. I knew that not everyone was so lucky.
And so I trained. And shortly after they draped that first medal signifying 13.1 miles over my neck I decided to clean up my act. I kept running, I quit drinking and partying, I stopped playing victim and I started running toward my problems and responsibilities head on.
My life quickly started to change. It wasn’t long before goals were being crushed, big moves were being made and I could finally look at myself in the mirror and say I was proud of the woman staring back at me.
Then this year something changed. I lost my spark and that zest for life. I regressed mentally into that girl from five years ago. I introduced alcohol back into my life. And my positive demeanor had turned into one lacking hope or excitement.
I had tried to finish my seventh race multiple times. The first time I ended up moving across the country and couldn't compete. The second attempt came prior to the pandemic and the race was cancelled. After rescheduling it for fall they cancelled it again. And here it was. Finally happening. Two and a half years since my last time crossing a half-marathon finish line. At almost 40 my body was different - and I quickly learned that. It was discouraging to discover new aches and pains with every mile. But I was going to do this. I was going to put this last race behind me. Every training run I'd tell myself, "Once you finish this you NEVER have to run again!"
So I ran. And I cried. And I cursed. And out of nowhere...I started to feel.
I hadn't realized that I'd become numb again. And when the emotions hit, they hit like a freight train. I spent two months fighting those demons once again. Two months fighting the girl I was five years ago.
This weekend, I proved to myself that I could beat her. That I could finally leave her in the dust of my new life and officially close her chapter. I sobbed as I crossed that finish line. My mom and little dog waiting for me on the other side. She sobbed too as we embraced and the look of pride on her face solidified what I already knew...the little voice in my head that kept saying, “You’ll always be her…” had been drowned out by the sound of my own beating heart, followed by an inner peace that could only be brought on by one thing…a runner’s high.
Where there is a WILL there is a WAY. Don't give up.
And please remember, you're not alone.