You guys. This is a longer post than usual, but I want you to spend some time with it. Laura aka Slenderella tells a tale that will resonate with many of us. We can run toward something or away from something. Which one are you doing?
The usual fairy tale starts with “Once Upon A Time…,” for me, it begins with Once Upon A Couch! I found myself stuck in the gravitational pull of the couch, and addicted to Oreo Cookie Cake (which led to me accidentally gaining 100 lbs). It left me feeling broken and hopeless. Then one dark and terrifying day (late in 2010), eating Oreo Cookie Cake quit working — I ate the whole thing and it didn’t make me feel any better. So there I was, 100 lbs overweight, stuck on the couch, and desperate.
Now what? I knew something had to change, so I decided to join Weight Watchers. So there I was sitting in the meeting when my Leader (Teresa WW Rose) held up a shiny object (a silver 5K charm) and offered it up to anyone willing to walk 5K in the Weight Watchers Walk-It Challenge. Before I realized what had happened, my hand shot up and I said (in front of God and everyone) that I would do it.
I hadn’t been off the couch in years and had no idea how far 5K actually was. I went home in a mild panic. But, I surely wasn’t going to fail publicly. I poured my size 20 into some spandex, put on my tennis shoes and went to the local park where no one knew me. On that first day, I could only walk about 15 minutes. And, as I was heading back to my car, a nice elderly gentleman walking with two Canadian Crutches (recovering from a stroke) hobbled over to me and said “Are you alright dear? You don’t look so good. Are you sure you don’t need some help?”
I was red faced, sweaty, and veins were popping out on my forehead. I looked like the poor little dead girl! But, I wanted the promised bling and went back the next day. I downloaded a free app (Endomondo) to my phone and used it track how far I’d gone. And by the time the Walk-It Challenge rolled around (4/22/11), I was able to walk (barely) the distance. At the end my Weight Watchers leader was there and told me that next year I’d run it. I was concerned she might have been drinking and laughed. She pulled out a wand (honest, this really happened), waved it over me and said “You are a runner.” Now, I was certain she’d been drinking! I liked the way I was feeling (and the results), so I kept walking.
Soon, I was walking 10K everyday. I figured out that I was only going get so far walking and so decided to run a little bit. One day, I could run the entire 10K. I decided to keep going. I ran because I could (and not die). I ran because I was free of the couch.
But, I was engaged in secret running. See, I didn’t think of myself as a “real” runner yet, so only two or three friends even knew I had ever run a single step. Two of those friends talked me into signing up to walk a half marathon. About a mile and a half into it, they could see I wanted to run, and told me to go for it. So I did. That’s the day I began to think of myself as a runner.
Now I was running to see how far I could go. I decide to go for the 26.2. While training I hit my goal weight and was finally free of the 100lbs I had accidently gained. Now I was running out of fear of the couch dragging me back into its gravitational field. And I was running from my former “fat girl” self.
But, somewhere along the way, it became just plain old fun.
I found myself ditching all the Borg paraphernalia (Garmin, etc.) and just running for the fun of it. I ran three marathons in 90 days. By then end of that last one (March 2012), I began to suspect that I might just be a secret ultra runner. And decide to train for a 50K trail race. Others in my corner of the world began to believe it when I told them that if I could do it, any one could do.
So, I started a newbie runner’s group. Now I was running for the sheer joy of watching others find the gifts running has to offer. Training for an ultra is a different kind of thing. It forced me to face my fear of the “fat girl” and learn how to eat to run and NOT run to eat. I found myself once again running to test myself — to see how far or how many hills I could run. And I ran two 50Ks in the summer of 2012. Along the way, I found a deep peace from running on the trail and in the forest.
Those long, solitary runs changed something in me. They become my “happy place.” Once again, I was curious. How far could I go? Time was flying by and I was rapidly approaching the end of my first year without that 100lbs. Why not celebrate 1 year missing 100 lbs by running 100K? So, I registered for Rio Del Lago 100k and discovered that by sharing the joys of running with others, I had created the perfect crew for the event. So, I ran 100K (OMG!) on 10/6/2012.
Back to the question though — Why Do I Run?
I run for so many different reasons — some good, some not-so-good. Some days I run out of fear of failure. Some days I run with a warrior’s spirit. Sometime’s I run for the joy of running with my friends. Sometimes, it’s to watch someone new discover the gifts of running. Some days it’s just to go the buffet and not worry about that “fat girl” catching me and dragging me back to the couch. But most days, I run for the fun of it, for the peace, for the joy. I guess the biggest reason I run is the simplest one of all: I run because I can, and for most of my adult life I couldn’t.
Now what? Well, next up for me is running a few more ultras on the way to running my first 100 miler in 2013. My bucket list run is the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. I’ll enter the lottery for an entrance in 2014.
Find Slenderella on Facebook: Slenderella Newman.