On this upcoming Sunday, March 20, 2016 this CT girl, will be going to New York City to finish the 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. This will be the third half marathon that I’ve completed in less than a year, my first being just six months after I started running.
My running journey began back in August of 2014 before I was to remarry my ex-husband. My husband, Dennis and I had just overcome so many obstacles. Four years ago, we were in crisis. We were in financial crisis, we lost our home, went through divorce and my health was at risk as I was desperately trying to lose the 80 pounds of weight, that I had gained during our first marriage. But we had overcome these challenges, which led us to this happy time of reunion, stability and strength. Yet, I was still feeling desperate to find a simple moment, to be grateful for my life on this day. Here I was starting over, a second chance with the man that I love and a whole new start on life, and I was stuck in my mental illness and feeling depressed.
During the time my ex-husband and I were divorced, I decided to do something for myself and created a new way to live. I was now going to hold myself accountable for my happiness. I would find a simple moment every day that inspired me to be grateful for life. When my ex-husband and I divorced, we realized we had to let go of everything we thought we had to have in order to find our true sense of self-worth. We had to just appreciate that we are alive and be grateful for that.
Most of my inspiration would come from within the walls of our home and the virtual world around me, as my anxiety and depression often kept me feeling confined. My anxiety would constrict me somedays – like I was trapped inside my own skin and to get out of bed or change my clothes seemed like a daunting task. Then one day, I found myself drawn to a local running group called “Outrun the Odds,” a group that put efforts towards the awareness of Cystic Fibrosis. I found such joy and inspiration in these runners and their stories so I began following their daily achievements and cheering them along. I wanted more and more to feel that joy that they shared so proudly after finishing a race or seeing the results on their bodies after training hard. Not to just be able to see the miles logged, but to be able to contribute and pay that forward to a well-deserved cause. The desire to make a difference while also allowing myself the time to do something that would benefit me, my health, and happiness was far too tempting not to try.
I was already sharing #365daysofjoy, an initiative I created that inspires us to find joy in one moment each day, with the great big virtual world and now as a runner, I would be able to spread that joy far and wide with a personal message of gratitude. I could physically go out and share the simplest form of gratitude – my smile with all those people who inspired me that I was worth living for. Everything began to make sense and I couldn’t think of any better way to share my message then to become a runner and set goals that would keep my mind busy and focused on doing something for the body that also deserved care. I would commit to making my joy portable in every single step I took and that was forward motion, which was far better than standing still and feeling trapped inside myself.
Sharing positivity was not the only benefit running has brought me and my family. My health and physical fitness has improved as I’ve maintained a 60 lb weight loss and now it is another joy in life that my husband, my children and I share. Dennis, my husband has now also become a runner and he has participated in many races with me in the last year. Our children also participate by cheering us on and even running with us. It has made finding that moment of joy to share, each day so much easier.
For me, the courage to start is far greater then finishing the race, something I had never done in my life, at least not consistently and not until just a little over a year ago. On the day I became a runner, I took ownership of my strength and held my physical health an equal partner with my mental health. Every step I take, my body wages war on my mind and overcomes the demons that hold it hostage. For me, the mind has always been my weakness but not anymore, it’s become my greatest strength. As a runner, it’s been sheer tenacity that has willed me to believe I can finish, and I will finish the NYC Half Marathon this Saturday, just as I will continue sharing 365 days of joy. I’m grateful to be a runner in the marathon of life. For me, it’s not a race I am trying to win, it’s about taking the time to slow down and appreciate all the moments and when my feet hit the ground, I am feeling my breathe, hearing and seeing the real world and all its beauty around me. It is for these moments that I know, I am alive.