Growing up I was never an athletic kid. Yes, we were a family of downhill skiers but that was about it. In school, I was always the band geek, national honors society, choir, drama team type. I did everything I could to get out of gym class and at bank camp when they wanted us to run a mile as our pre-breakfast warm up, I am quite certain I was probably always close to last.
Fast forward to my early adult years, I got my college degree and my first real big girl job and worked about 60+ hours a week. I also started working on my master’s degree by taking night classes. I didn’t have time for a life outside of that and when we took a vacation, we traveled internationally. I then found myself landing my second job in my career and not having to work those kinds of hour. I didn’t know what to do with my time, but I did know every year I was gaining another 5 pounds here and 5 pounds there. I decided the best thing I could do was to start focusing on myself.
The company I went to work for had a great wellness program and encouraged people to move. I decided to take advantage of the discount offered at the YMCA and to give it a try. For the first six months I spent time on weights, elliptical and cycling. I never talked to anyone and always went in the morning before work. It was the only way to become consistent. After six months went by, I was growing tired of my routine and the fact I didn’t have any friends at the gym. I literally knew no one. I decided it was time for a new goal with the New Year right around the corner. I was going to graduate to try out running on the track because the runners always seemed to know each other and have fun. This is what I needed!
One of the first days into the new year, I went to the track and I set the goal of trying to see how many times I could run around the track and then figured I would try to do more each day. Well on day one, I started out and didn’t even make it once around the track before declaring I was going to die! This was harder than it looked. I remember feeling really defeated and wondered how many people saw my lame attempt at “running”. Somehow, I got up the nerve to try it again the next day and the next day after that. Before too long, one of the regular runners stopped and commented that she noticed I had been on the track frequently. She asked what I was training for. I looked at her with a very puzzled look and asked what she meant by “what am I training for”. She said are you training for a race? I knew nothing about races and thought that was only something that high school and college student participated in. She said most people start with a 5K. I asked how far that was and she equated it to just over 21 times around the track. I asked if she was nuts and quickly discounted my ability to do that. She told me to just keep with it. She continued to check in on me as the days passed by. I was happy because for the first time, someone stopped and talked to me at the gym. I knew those runners seemed like a good group!
After more time had passed and my laps were increasing, I decided maybe it was time to sign up for a race to give myself a new goal. I inquired with my new running friend to find out what she recommended. She gave me the name of the first big 5K of the season and I signed up that day. I remember it was incredibly cold that year and I had never run outside. I think my husband thought I was nuts, but I wanted to see if I could run a 5K. Turns out I could and that was the beginning of a whole new life style and hundreds of new friends…….
Today running is a passion of mine and now I try to give back. One of those opportunities for me is through my ability to pace races and especially toward the “back of the pack”. I get the opportunity to talk to many new runners and answer questions/calm fears. I love Gazelle Girl because it is a celebration of women runners. It is a feeling of sisterhood and a sense of belonging in a sport that originally started out excluding our gender. It is proof of how far running has progressed.