Running is something I’ve always wanted to do. Growing up, I was chubby during my leanest of years and obese the rest of the time. Running the mile in gym class was torture… I remember giving it my all and only making it about half way around the track before having to walk. Anything under 18 mins for me was a victory. I would cough and wheeze and feel like my lungs were going to explode. I would watch as the athletic girls stretched out their legs like gazelles as they easily made their way around the track. I hated them. And I envied them. I longed to know what that felt like–to run and not feel like I was going to vomit and pass out.
In 2012, my father passed away after many years of struggling with heart issues and obesity. He was cold and abusive at times and I knew I didn’t want my life to end as his did–estranged from much of his family and on his death bed for most of his last 10 years. I was young and wanted to feel young and live a long time and be active with my kids and grand-kids. I tried to start running and was able to get up to 2 (very, very, very slow) miles and it gave me a taste for what it felt like to be a runner. But, life got busy and stressful and my priorities shifted and running became something I would get back into when I had time, when summer was over, when it warmed up outside, etc… Lots of excuses. Not to mention, running at 350 pounds led to many fun things like tendinitis and shin splints and possible stress fractures. It was not an easy feat!
June of 2014 happened and that summer running was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted to be able to walk without help and write my name and have it look normal again. I started a new job in August that year and that left me completely fatigued when I got home in the evenings. I had not been diagnosed with MS so I just assumed it was my body trying to recover from the mystery summer illness and adjust to working.
After my diagnosis in September of 2015, and the weight loss that followed as a result of my diet change, I found myself with this incredible amount of energy and a renewed desire to run. I started slowly–running for one minute increments and adding on to that each time I worked out. I decided to train for a half-marathon in January of 2017 and was able to complete two half marathons last year. In 2018, I’m planning to run a half marathon in April and a full marathon in October with a team of other MS runners and our spouses and supporters.
Running at 165 pounds is much easier than running at 350, for sure. But I still don’t feel very gazelle like. Most runs, I take about 10 steps and begin thinking there is NO way you’re going to be able to finish this run today, but then I pray for God to give me strength and endurance and He’s never failed me yet. If it’s hot or if I’m pushing myself a bit too hard, my cheek tingles and my right toes begin to go numb. My lip will usually quiver and I can either choose to slow down and it will stop or push through and it eventually gets better. I have no earthly idea how I will be able to train for and run a full marathon. Most days the task seems as likely as me performing a brain surgery! But, it’s something I feel God is calling me to do so I will focus on each step as it comes and not let myself become overwhelmed by the mountain in front of me.
I made a promise to myself and to God when I was diagnosed that I would honor Him with my body. I began praying about every food that went into my mouth and sought His wisdom on the best things I could eat for my health. And I decided that as long as I was able, I was going to run. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it forever, but while I can, I will. And if I can’t run, I will do something to remain active.