My journey began about three years ago. I am not really sure what led me to think that I wanted to start running, I actually hated running! I was two years away from my 50th birthday and I had seen so many of my friends reach that milestone birthday with dread. I had decided that I was going to take a different approach; I was bound and determined to move into my 50’s in much better shape and health than I had been in my 40’s. I was done having children and they were growing and not needing me as much; it was time to take care of myself. I placed completing a 5K race on my bucket list and set out to the task.
So I began, I was determined to complete a 5K and also embrace a healthier lifestyle. I set my goal on a 5K race just for women in Minneapolis and I slowly worked my way up to that day. I was able to enlist some of my friends who also had never run and together we completed the “Women Run the Cities” race, we didn’t come in first, and some even walked parts of the race but we had done it and I was hooked. I loved the feeling that came with race day and how I felt about myself when I finished. I have since completed several more 5K races.
My 50th birthday came and I can say that I had achieved my goal, and set another one, to compete in the Disney “Tower of Terror 10 miler” – little did I know when I set that goal that it and running would become so much more to me than a check on my bucket list.
This last year has brought unwanted changes to my life, and I would soon find that running would remind me of who I was and gave me a reason to keep moving forward. After 20 years of living in one place it was clear that my husband’s job was coming to an end and new doors needed to be opened. They did, in a totally different state. I had such a strong foundation of friends, support and community where we were and even more so, I was in a job that I absolutely loved and had been at for 17 years, I wasn’t ready to quit. My identity was found in the life I had there, yet while mentally knowing that we needed to make the move, my heart was broken and my spirit along with it. So at age 50, we packed up the house, I quit my job, said good bye, moved further away from family, and moved and along with it came pre-menopause and a mid-life crisis.
Shortly after moving it became apparent that I had lost myself. I was diagnosed with depression and my days seemed meaningless. I went about my duties of being a mom, wife, homemaker, but I was truly only going through the motions. I had no friends here, no job, my husband and children were going to work and school and beginning to find themselves getting used to the new location and life and I would be at home with no purpose and no motivation. More than that, I kept asking God what I had done wrong that all that I knew was being taken from me. We had lived in a big city, why couldn’t doors be opened there? Depression only added to my confusion, my feeling lost. Talking about it at home only led to tension, so I just stopped talking. I described myself as being in the house of mirrors at the fair and not only could I not find my way out . . . I no longer recognized the reflection staring back at me. Who was this person?
I purposely began to get out of bed every day and made it to the local Y where I would walk and run. At first I would only go for 30 minutes, and then I began to stay longer (my thought was “What do I have to go home for?”) Running was getting me out of bed and getting my day started. It would have been easier to just stay in bed, to stay at home, but I found myself with the local “coffee drinkers and Ben Gay” group at the Y and I kept going. If I was losing it mentally at least I could look good doing it was my thought.
I reminded myself that there was that race at Disney that I wanted to do. I enlisted my best friend from home to do it with me and we made the reservations. Now the money we are putting towards this race means no backing out and I set out each run with that goal in mind.
I am still battling depression. I still feel alone as I have found it hard to make new friends in our new location. I miss where I was and still question “what’s next for me” here in this new journey. It is a much longer process than I would like and there are days when my depression hits harder than others. Yet I run, I get out of bed and I run. While I am still trying to find out who I am in this new phase of life, I know this . . . for now, I am a runner. I work towards the goal of my big race this coming October, I get out of bed every day and I run. I run because for now, it is moving me forward on a path that seems so unclear at the moment and it is helping me rediscover, one step at a time who I am and that I am going to make it. I am a runner . . .
“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” – Arthur Blank