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Why I Run: Kelly’s Story

Running in My Dreams

When I was younger I used to dream about running. In my dreams I was light on my feet, I was fast, and it was effortless. But the few times I tried actually running while awake the opposite was true. Every slam of my feet was painful, I was slow as molasses, and I couldn’t run more than half a block. I remember the first time I tried running. I was a teenager. I was bored one day, and I had had the dream the night before. So I put on some running shoes, yelled to my mom I was going on a walk, and off I went.

It was August which was my first mistake, trying to run in 100 degree temperatures, and I made it about a quarter of a block. I stopped to walk, and saw this cute guy that I had been crushing on in his front yard. Showing off I started running again until I got out of his eyesight. Then I stopped again nearly asphyxiating, and walked the rest of the block home. “I’m never doing that again” I thought.

A few years later while in college I had had the dream several nights in a row. So thinking that I was in better shape because I walked every where I decided to try it again. I had about the same results. Apparently for me walking fitness did not translate to running fitness, and again when I finished I thought, “I’m never doing that again.”

Being a girl who only has to knock her head into the brick wall several gazillion times before learning her lesson I tried running several more times. I tried once when I got married thinking because I had gotten so thin before my wedding it would go better, another time after my first child when the people at Weight Watchers told me I had to get moving, and another time when I was lifting weights all of the time with my partner who was also really into running. All of these times were humiliating failures, and each time I vowed, “I’m never doing that again.”

40 Year Old Crisis Running

But then I turned 40, a life altering moment for many women, and the hot trend among my peers was to try the Couch to 5K program. I certainly had mastered the couch. Surely I could also master the 5K. But once again I failed. However this time failing really made me angry. On top of my running failure, the words from a really polite ( (<–Sarcasm) friend of my husband’s kept running through my mind. I had been complaining the year before about not losing weight and when I said that I was doing everything that I knew to do he said, “Really?  Really Kelly? Or are you just fooling yourself.”

Putting all of my failures together blended with those words that had been festering for quite a while, and I found myself complaining all over the internet in a super attractive, passively aggressive way about wanting to get fit but not being able to. A social media friend who was also a running trainer suggested that I try the program that started his running career. And in a moment in which I needed to run my head into the brick wall one more time, I signed up for a different beginner’s running program

This time the new program, which is very similar to the Couch to 5K program, stuck, and I graduated…with honors (which means I went to almost every training.) I was fairly confident the day I had my graduation race, but about a quarter mile into the race I had to stop to walk as my asthma flared up. And by half way through the race I was ready to quit, my right leg feeling like lead. I made it to the finish line, but I was not happy having not been able to run a full 5K. After all…I had graduated the program with honors. I cried for days after that race. However, I was not finished with running.

On Becoming a “Real” Runner

I signed up for the next level of the program, determined that this time I would run a 5K all of the way. I didn’t. Nor did I finish 5 other 5K races that I had signed up for, each time either my asthma or cramping getting in the way. Then in a moment of weakness I decided to run a 1/2 marathon race with my good girlfriends. Now I’m not quite sure how going from 5K distance to a 1/2 marathon distance seemed like a good idea in my brain, but it did. And surprisingly I finished the training and I ran/walked the 1/2 marathon.

I was feeling pretty good about the 1/2 marathon finish until I read a post from another finisher who was complaining about the walkers who were in her way during the race. She said something about if you can’t run a 5K you have no business participating in a 1/2 marathon as a runner. That was a pretty brutal comment I have to say. And really even though I had finished run/walking 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes there must have been a part of me that agreed with her as I still didn’t feel like a runner. I still hadn’t been able to run a 5K distance all the way without stopping.

Why I Run

After my 1/2 marathon, I walked up to my friends who had finished before me and announced, “I’m never doing that again.” And although that is true I decided not to stop my training. And one rainy day I was at the gym on the hated treadmill trying to get a run in. I was feeling particularly good that day, and was really into my music. I looked down at the distance I had run and realized that I had run over 2 miles without stopping, probably the furthest I had ever gone. I decided to not stop. I wanted to see how far I could get. And after 42 minutes I finally needed to stop. I looked at my distance again, and there it was…3.78 miles. I had run my 5K without stopping.

There was no fanfare, and it was on a quiet rainy day on the treadmill, but I had finally reached my goal many, many, many years in the making. I ran my 5K. And again I cried for days after, happy tears this time, taking pride in what I had accomplished. Here’s what I wrote that day on Daily Mile.

“And very quietly I ran my first 5K distance without having to stop to catch my breath…a step more important to me than finishing my first 1/2 marathon.

Bucket list: Being able to run a full 5K — Check.”

A month or so before attempting my 1/2 marathon, Jennifer suggested that I write a piece for the “Why I Run” series on her blog. I kept putting her off because quite honestly I hadn’t reached my goal, and I didn’t feel like a runner yet. I didn’t know why I was running at that point, but now that I’ve reached my goal I do. I run because the dreams I’ve had since I was quite young were not wrong. I run because the negative words from the athletically pious are wrong. I run because I can. And finally, I run because I have little problem with these.

Creative Commons License photo credit: the.anomalous

But that’s another story.

photo credit: Maggie McKenney Photography

 

Kelly Kinkaid is one of the hip and happening Tulsa bloggers I met first via twitter and then IRL. We even hugged after the Tulsa Run, because we’re cool like that. You can find her at http://www.kellykinkaid.com, and on twitter.


15 Comment

  1. Wow. Your story is, frankly, amazing. I would have given up after the first, second, and certainly third try.

    What a great lesson here – keep at it if it’s on your list. It might not happen right away, but stick with it and it WILL happen. Congrats!

  2. Great post, Kelly. I’m so impressed that you’ve stuck with running even after a few disappointments. I would have (and did) given up long ago. You’re a rock star in my book. In case I haven’t old you lately.

  3. I love: “I run because I can.” I had always causually run (a mile or two at a time). Now, unable to run, I miss the jello leg feeling, but I especially miss the wandering thoughts and daydreaming that came with running.

  4. I love this piece! I always wanted to be a runner but have always given up. You have totally inspired me to grab some sneakers and get moving again.
    -r

  5. Wow, Kelly- I loved your story!! I was so happy for you when you did the 5K on the treadmill- those “big” moments are always when you least expect them. I’m glad you didn’t listen to that jerk after the 1/2 marathon! I’ve found that 99.9% of runners are super nice and encouraging. Great job and good luck with your future training!

  6. Pure inspiration. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey, Kelly. I am getting my shoes on and hitting the cross trainer as soon as I hit send here.

  7. I love this post. I so admire you!
    I really think my frame of mind was better when I use to walk everyday. I need to make 2012 the year I get back in the habit.

  8. I love it! So so inspiring! I have run on and off my whole life but didn’t do my first half till I was 48 with Team in Training. Then I did another. I’m quite happy with the halfs. I got injured this summer (not from running), groin pull and couldn’t run for 13 weeks and that was hard! But focused on yoga. I said I wouldn’t start running again til the Spring (I’m doing a 40 day yoga program) but this weather has been so nice and your blog has inspired me! You are an excellent writer! Love reading about your journey!

  9. Wow. So many great comments, and I don’t know where to start responding, so I just want to offer a great big thank you. So many people inspired me on my journey and continue to inspire me as I continue with all of my new goals. It’s nice to know that we’re all out here for each other through our successes and failures.

  10. Excellent story, Kelly! I’m glad you shared. I’ve also always wanted to be a runner, but could never get there…until recently. I’ve really enjoyed the support I’ve found with you and the other ladies. It makes a real difference in training and setting goals.

  11. Oh hey I didn’t even realize the Kelly writing this story was YOU, Kelly! This is great great great. I had a very similar experience in my journey becoming a runner, but it has totally stuck now and I’m addicted and there’s no way I could quit. Even lots of injuries hasn’t made me quit. I’m in an awesome 5k training group now and my friends have me completely inspired to join the half marathon training group after this ends. So yeah…a half is on my bucket list now!

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