All my life I’ve hated running.
In middle and high school, my PE teacher would take us all to this big field in the middle of my hometown, under the unbearably scorching hot Equator sun and made us run several loops around the field. The popular kiddos, also known as the jocks and/or athletes would rock this challenge, finishing out strong, high fiving each other, ensuring their top status in the high school popularity strata to remain strong.
Well, suffice it to say, I was a loser. Socially speaking I floated somewhere in the middle. I hung out with mostly girls, and with a few exception, we all kinda sucked at PE. However, my girls are excellent in hard and social science and languages. But was that cool in high school? Nope, of course not.
In one of those running excursions, incidents would happen. Naturally, those always involve the losers. Somebody would faint, puke, or be too weak to make the trek back to the school. Now this never happened to me, but still, I was always amongst the last to finish the running.
I always hated the feeling of my stomach being shaken. And that breathless feeling. And the feeling that my legs are about to fall off.
Who in their right mind would voluntarily put themselves through such torture? such was my youthful thought.
In college I had a phase when I was a health junkie, a work-out fanatic. I would run in the treadmill at the gym for cardio and do weight training. I watched what I ate. But like many other things in my early adulthood (such as that one fleeting moment when I thought I was an existentialist), it lasted only but a short while. I was preoccupied with too many hedonistic things to care about something so… positive. (for example : friday night choice of working out at the gym or a dinner out with friends? well, the choice made itself.)
Then for the longest time I was just a sloth. I didn’t do exercise of any kind.
A year after my son’s birth, I began going to the gym and repeated the same routine I did in college. Treadmill for cardio and weight machines. This went on a cycle of on-and-off until about the beginning of this year. To be fair, it was mostly off.. a.k.a I would hit the gym once and then skipped for months. Also, during the winter, I would eat like a caterpillar who’s about to go into hybernation. I just stuffed my face all the time and I never even bothered to count my calories.
It was not until my jeans started being way too tight and my husband started making comments about the appearance of a muffin top that I began looking at myself in the mirror. My jeans went up 2 sizes!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about sizes. I DON’T think that the only way to look good is to be skinny. I think everyone is beautiful in their own ways, in their own body sizes. As a feminist I often made sarcastic remarks to my male friends for being so hung up on the old fashioned standard of sexiness and/or fitness. Curvy is beautiful. Big is beautiful. Not everyone is going to look like some skinny Korean actress and that IS okay. I mean, look at Christina Hendricks and her killer curves. Look at Her Highness Queen Beyonce. If I had a body like those girls I would strut my stuff every day!
But I began feeling like I was not fit. My depression always intensified during the winter and being sedentary had finally taken its toll on me, not only mentally but also physically. I would wake up and still be tired. I would ask myself, “What’s my purpose today?” All I wanted to do was to go back to bed and stay there all day. I didn’t want to exercise, didn’t want to hit the gym, didn’t give a flying fig what I ate.
My husband began noticing this regression in my well-being. He decided that it was time to take fitness really seriously. We started working out together, hitting the gym, running, doing weight training.
On Saturday last week, I ran the first 5K race in my life. I wrote here on another post before, that we were going to run a race in early April. Barely any training went into preparing for it, because we had just started exercising again only a week prior to the race. Also we found out that my husband wouldn’t be able to run the race with me, because he couldn’t take the day off work. (In our true clumsy fashion, we forgot that it was on a Saturday not a Sunday, and he has to work on Saturdays )
So I ran with a girlfriend and her 8 years old daughter. The day before I thought, “Shit, what am I gonna do if I can’t finish the race? Oh well, maybe if I don’t feel up to it, I just wouldn’t go.”
I went anyway. I dropped my son and dad-in-law at a playground nearby and walked toward where all the runners/walkers are. Found my friend M and her daughter L. I told her, “I don’t feel so good, couldn’t sleep well last night, too anxious for this. I won’t be too hard on myself, I’ll walk and then run, and then walk, anyway I’ll be taking it easy and I’d understand if you don’t keep pace with me.”
She said we’ll do it together. They’ll keep pace.
I finished 5K or 3.1 miles in 43 minutes and 40 seconds. Far from being good.
but i finished.
I never stopped moving. When I got tired or when L would call me, “Wu! Wait for me, don’t run so fast, wait for me!” (this girl loves me for some reason 🙂 ) I would slow down and walk.
M and L finished about a minute after me. We were just happy to finish it. We didn’t care that our time isn’t impressive. M kept telling her daughter how proud she is of her. I high fived her and told her we’ll do it again next month in another race.
I signed my husband and myself up for another race next month to benefit the Zoo.
Today, I ran some parts of the Forest Park with my husband. 5.7 km or 3.6 miles in 39 minutes. Not even close to being good, but I made progress. We started out the first and second miles strong and the third was kind of dragging. But I ran faster than I did Saturday, and I never stopped moving. My husband kept saying, “Even if it’s a slow jog, keep going!”
I find that the adrenaline rush I got right after finishing is incomparable to any other feeling in the world. It’s addictive. It’s ridiculously addictive. The euphoria lasted me all day on Saturday, and right now I’m feeling happy, high, from the running.
A friend of mine once told me, “When I hit the pavement, I can feel all my sadness melted away. I cranked up the music, ran as fast as my feet were capable of, and cried all my problems away. There’s something liberating about running.”
And maybe, just maybe… I begin to understand how she feels now. Over the winter I would see these people running, even in the middle of a snowstorm, and I would always thought, “What a bunch of crazies.”
Maybe I was the crazy one?
If I can crank up my music, run, and cry my depression away, then hell yeah that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to continue running, and friends, now you can hold me accountable for it.