Why I Run: Kelly’s Story 15

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.