I’m a runner. It’s what I do. It’s who I be.

I never thought those words would describe me though. In fifth grade, I tried basketball, but it was too much running. In junior high and high school, I tried softball. It was better, less running, but every now and then our coach got wild and crazy ideas about moving us out of last place and had us run the bases. It was torture. I’d collapse in a wheezing pile of sadness.

In college, I ran the Komen Race for the Cure and then lay on the couch all day because that was clearly the maximum capacity of “running” I was made for. I thought runners were only thin, naturally talented and sporty people. Running was something people like me did for the t-shirt and an excuse to eat all the food after the 5K.

That all changed for me was I was 37. My employer ran a step challenge at work to promote activity and the prize was $100.00. I really needed that $100.00. As a full time working mother of three very young boys, all under seven, time was not on my side. I quickly figured out that I could get twice as many steps in the same amount of time if I jogged a little. I couldn’t even make it up the hill in my subdivision without stopping to get my breath.

But, over the next six weeks it got easier. A lot easier. My achilles were hurting though, so I thought again, I’m just not made for this. I went into Gazelle Sports and thought maybe I could splurge on new shoes because, again, there was a $100.00 prize at stake. I couldn’t remember when or where I had bought my current cute purple Asics, probably Kohls. The lovely young man at Gazelle brought out a new type of shoe for me to try, the Hoka Clifton 1, which a lot of his “mature” runners liked. My friends, if you haven’t seen that shoe, I encourage you to google it. It was the worst looking shoe ever, especially back then before we knew about Hokas.

I tried it on, grudgingly. It was amazing. It was soft and cushy, and nothing was sore ever. Soon after that, I ran my first four miles, in a row, without stopping. Somewhere along the way I even made it up the hill in my subdivision. I remember exactly where I was when I hit four miles. I remember stopping in the road and laughing with joy about how crazy it was that I just ran four miles! I could do anything. If I could run, what else could I do?!

I won the contest at work. I signed up for Gazelle Girl. I signed up for the Riverbank Run 25K, I signed up for the Grand Rapids Marathon. In two weeks, I’ll run my 40th marathon or longer event. I’m still not a skinny, natural athlete, but I enjoy myself and all the people I’ve met on the way. Keep going, it gets easier.