I think one of the reasons it was so difficult to get back into running when the time came was because I didn't have the support and motivation that my former running buddy gave me. My future sister-in-law was my running buddy for about three years. We did almost all of our big racing together and tried to train together as much as possible. She ran a half-marathon (one we'd run together twice in the past) this past October and it was really hard not to be there. I found some of my old running pictures tonight when I was scrolling through a backup hard drive we have.
My start in running came when I was a junior in college. I was at my heaviest and I knew I had to get some exercise for my health and so my weight didn't get out of control. I had always been interested in running - I ran track in high school - but had never really committed to it. I started out just jogging/walking a one mile loop in our neighborhood. At first I could only run about 1/4 mile and then would have to walk, but pretty soon I could run the whole thing. I extended my route a little a 1/2 mile. Then the day came when I ran two miles without stopping. I felt like I was on top of the world. After a couple months I was running four miles a day consistently. I always ran in the afternoon when I got home from school. I remember very vividly watching my shadow in front of myself when I ran. I remembered hating the way my shadow looked at first. Then as the weeks progressed and my body got used to running, I noticed my shadow looked better and better.
With the running came a desire to eat better - because I noticed that when I ate poorly, I ran poorly. It hurt more, I got tired faster, and I recovered more slowly. I stopped eating seconds and cut desserts to a minimum. I only drank water and diet drinks instead of my usual Pepsi and sweet tea. I learned all I could about nutrition and tried to reform my wayward appetite. Over the next year, I lost 25 pounds. More importantly, I developed a love for running. It was a time I could be by myself and with just my thoughts. I could think hard or not think at all. I could listen to music or just be silent. I got in tune with what my body needed and was trying to tell me - and I learned to respond to it.
I did my first race (a crazy 11k trail run) three months after Marc and I got married. I was hooked. I loved the atmosphere of racing and the camaraderie you felt with the other runners. I loved the sense of accomplishment you felt when you crossed the line. I loved setting a goal for myself and working really hard to get there. I kept entering races. The following April, I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles). I felt like a superstar. I decided I wanted to do a full one the next winter. I trained and four weeks before the race, I got a stress fracture in my foot and could barely walk. Perhaps the 18 and 20 mile runs were a little much for my body. Maybe I'll do one some day.
All this to say, now I'm starting over. Even though I was a committed runner for four years, I was back to square one. I started running/walking a mile loop at the college campus where I work. Then I walked/ran it twice. Now I'm doing it three times and today I ran the whole time. I have to remember that when I look back on these photos and think about what I've accomplished in the past that it's not about what I used to be, but that I still love what I used to do. I love it enough to work hard and get it back.