But I never really developed that “love” athletes talk about when describing why they do what they do. I needed something simple, something that would fit into my busy life and something that would take almost no effort on my part yet yields phenomenal results. I needed a magic wand. Instead, my husband bought a treadmill.
I loved walking. In the beginning, I could barely walk 10 minutes. But, each week, I would increase my speed, and soon my slow walk turned into a steady jog. What started out as a 20-minute fitness regime was evolving every day as I added miles and minutes to each run.
When my indoor running became dull, I ventured outside. Being outside created a new set of challenges; and forget boring. I had jumped off the treadmill and into Chariots of Fire. I loved it. Unlike the characters in Chariots of Fire, my goals were not to break speed records. My aspirations were simple. First, I wanted to start a run, and second, I wanted to finish the run without passing out on the side of the road.
After more than two years of dedicated running, several 5Ks, blisters and seven pairs of running shoes, I decided to take my newfound love to the next level. I registered to run a marathon. Never mind that I finished the race in six hours. When I crossed that finish line, I might as well have been the winner that day. I limped over to collect my medal, and when I took off my shoes, four toenails went, too.
It didn’t matter. I was superwoman on that day. Who needs toenails? Toenails are for sissies. I was no longer just Becky of Becky and Jay. I was no longer just Jacob and Jackson’s mom, although I treasure that title more than any. I was Becky, marathon finisher and sissy no longer.
A few years after my first – and only – marathon, I ran a second, then a third half-marathon. By my third half-marathon, I had running buddies. It made those days of training much easier to endure. One of my running buddies is an old friend who never thought she could run to the mailbox unless something was chasing her. But there she was on race day with her iPod, visor and top-of-the-line running shoes and the most important ingredient of all...confidence.
We were surrounded by more than 30,000 runners that day, but for me, there were only two people; Lynda and me. And we weren’t just friends when the finish line came into view. We were winners.
It’s been more than eight years since that half-marathon with Lynda. That means my body is more than eight years older. That means gravity has taken hold and isn’t letting go anytime soon. I don’t run long distances anymore. If fact, my run looks more like a walk with a slight hop. I’m the modified version of exercise these days. I still get it done, mind you. It just takes me a little longer, and I curse a little – OK, a lot – more.
There is something poetic about completing a goal that just a few months earlier seemed impossible. And while I adore Forrest Gump, maybe his mother had it all wrong. Instead of a box of chocolates, maybe life is like running. Some miles seem never to end, sometimes the hills are so steep that you need the encouragement of others to keep going and sometimes you want to give up. But in the end, when you cross that finish line, you realize it was all worth it.
Comments? You can email Becky Andrews at [email protected] Andrews and Angel Kane are the brains behind Telling Tales, a weekly column in The Democrat.