RUNNING!!!!!!!! Okay, it’s one of my favorite words. Ever. Really. I never, ever thought I would be a runner. I was pretty athletic in my early days. I played baseball or softball from the time I was 5 until I turned 14. I loved it! The feeling of catching a pop fly while glaring into the sun, or feeling the bat connect with the ball to send it soaring past the infield- it made me feel accomplished. I loved team spirit and chanting to the other team. I loved wearing my uniform for picture day because hey, I made a school team. However, one thing I hated, nay despised, was running laps. It was pure punishment. Not to mention that horrible “mile run” they would make us do twice a year. You may have well just hit me in the face with a shovel. I never performed badly during the mile run. I actually ran a bit faster than I do now. (Thank you softball!) But still, it was a deeply dreaded day.
I quit participating in sports when I went to high school. I was focused more on friends, shopping and being a crazy teenager. Then college came and I went to the open softball try outs at Campbell University. Ha. Ha. Ha. Joke was on me! I went to play a round of catch with a couple of other hopefuls. That one chick hurled the ball at me at the speed of light. I threw my glove up and by a miracle of The Lord, I caught the ball. Instant pain people. I took my glove off to find what looked like dirt. It wasn’t dirt. I have two nice sized bruises from that catch. I praise The Lord that I caught it, I would hate to have had those bruises on my face! Hm…maybe this was a bad idea. Plus, when we met with the coach, he told me I would need to gain at least 50 pounds. You read that right. 50. Nooooooo thank you! I’ll stick to eating bacon in my dorm room and watching the Disney channel. Peace out wide world of sports.
When Joe and I got engaged, I decided I should probably try to work out for our big day. I would saunter over to the girls gym around eight o’clock every evening after class, hop onto the elliptical with my earbuds and text books and go for a good thirty minutes. Then I might throw in some weights and stuff, just because it seemed like the thing to do. ***Bunny trail alert! I was very impressed that Campbell University had an all girls gym. As a woman who hates being ogled, I LOVED this! Thank you CU! Let’s hop off that bunny trail now.*** Between working out and getting my wisdom teeth pulled, I managed to lose a few pounds before the wedding. During our first married year, however, I did what most newlyweds do and put it back on plus a few. Running was still light years away from my mind.
Fast forward to 2013. Gabey had just turned a year old and Joe had been on a weight loss kick since the late 2012. He was doing amazing! Every day, he would wake up and hit the gym early before work. So we both decided to try out running. We got a jogging stroller and started the couch to 5k program. If you have never tried the c25k, I highly recommend it for beginning to run. It takes you from couch potato to running addict in 8 weeks! Anyway, we started with week one and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it. Those first few sixty second rounds of running stole more breath away from me than I ever thought my lungs could hold. How was I going to do this? I looked ahead to week 5 and saw that there was a TWENTY MINUTE stretch of straight running. Uggggggh…we pressed on. I repeated week 3 a couple times and it became a little easier. When we finally arrived at week 5, we were at the OBX. Vacation is a wonderful excuse to slip out of an exercise program. The thought is always “Hey, it’s vacation! You don’t need to stick to a well balanced diet or exercise routine. Eat. That. Cake.” It’s so tough to say no! Joe and I persevered. With our shoe laces tightened and Gabey in the stroller, we hit the pavement. Joe’s little brother Patrick joined us for the run (he ran in his Toms, people). We had a nice little back road we were able to stay on. Back and forth, up and down the street we went. There was no nice little bell going off telling us to walk. Just the sound of frogs starting to chirp and the water being pushed along by the breeze. Praise God for that breeze. Before I knew it, “*DING* begin walking.” We had done it!! We all made it the full 20 minutes! Yes, even Patch in his Toms. From this point on, I totally fell in love with running.
Joe and I ran our first 5k that year in Candor, NC. Joe came in 3rd in his age group and I had a time of 30:30! After that, I ran here and there for a mile or so at a time. It was fun for me. I even signed up for a wonderful organization called “I Run 4 Michael.” Check it out when you get a chance! I got matched with an amazing little fella named Caleb who is around Gabe’s age. So, when I would run, I would dedicate my workouts to him.
Then my Granny got very ill. My super hero and best buddy in the whole world was dealing with lung cancer. It was her third go around with cancer, so I wasn’t very scared. I thought that she had beat it earlier that year. But at my nephews birthday party, she wasn’t feeling very well. She had a fever and just didn’t look like she felt good. Not long after his party, I got a call that she was in the hospital. I remember going to see her after my classes, since I was in the LPN program at the time. She had a scary episode while I was in the room that completely shattered me. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Nothing could take her down. But there I was, looking at the woman who was made of steel to me, completely helpless. I was in denial for a while. Even after they transferred her to the Hospice House, it was still very surreal. I just knew that The Lord would work a miracle and she would come back to us. I knew that she would come home and beat my tail in cards like she always did. But she didn’t. November 15th 2013, around 6:30 in the morning, my phone rang and I knew. My sweet Mama was on the phone telling me that my best friend, my Little Granty was in Heaven, running the streets of gold. At that moment, life changed. It took a while to really hit home with me. Our first family get together was so hard. She had always been the person I would sit beside at parties and chat away with. I looked for her to walk through the door and give me a “Hey Teetsie Tail!” along with one of her signature Granny hugs. The door kept opening, and people kept coming in, but no Granny. My heart felt so homesick. We got home that afternoon and I cried every single drop of moisture out of my body. It was Sunday, but I stayed home that night mourning the loss of a piece of my heart.
I started running a lot after that. When it would get hard, I started thinking about her. I would think about the sound of her trying to breathe, and I would run harder. When my lungs would start burning, I would think of how she would’ve given anything to have a pair that worked. I ran harder. I ran to escape life for a while. I ran to talk to her. There was a 5k the following April called “Run For The Ribbons.” It was to benefit the cancer center at our local hospital. You could register in honor of or in memory of someone. I signed up and trained to run for my Granny, and I did. I put on my purple and had my lung cancer ribbon on my shirt. I ran. It was my first 5k race where I ran the entire way.
After that, running became an addiction. I started going longer distances and for longer times. Since then I have completed several 5k’s, a 1o miler, two half marathons and one full marathon. I also got another running buddy through the sister group to “”I Run For Michael,” “I Run 4 Siblings.” I run for a little boy named Nathaniel, who is an amazing big brother and a serious inspiration to me! I had to take a break during my last pregnancy. I was tipped off to my pregnancy by getting sick every time I would run. Little girl just didn’t care for it! I had to take a nice long break. I’m slowly starting back and it feels so good! So here’s to getting back to my stress relief. Here’s to getting back in shape. Here’s to running.