I first discovered my love for running in 7th grade. The choices in gym class for that unit were volleyball and basketball, neither of which I had an interest in. The female gym teacher decided to create another activity for the students, and lead a walking group out to the trails behind the school. The trail was only probably about a mile, maybe a little bit more, but I loved getting outside and quickly decided to run the trail instead of walk. My mom had always been a runner, and I fell in love with running fast.
In 9th grade, I joined the cross-country team at the high school. I ran cross country and track (600 meters, 1200 m, 1500 m, and 4×800 relay) and was in great shape throughout high school. After graduation, I kinda went to the gym and kinda ran, but once I started college I was way more interested in making friends, classwork, and working at Starbucks. By the time I ended my sophomore year of college, I had gained 60 pounds.
This was not the best time in my life. I was severely unhappy in my long-term relationship that had survived four years (2 from high school, 2 in college) and really should have ended sooner. I also lost my grandfather that summer. Fresh from my first broken heart and deep sadness for the loss of my pop, I found myself on Jax Beach with my mom. Running.
In fact, the morning my grandfather died, my mom and I were out on the beach running, and we saw two dolphins swimming in the waves. Jax Beach is usually too busy to see dolphins.
That summer, I lost 35 of the 60 pounds I had gained, and felt like myself again. I was much happier, independent, and more comfortable with how I looked and felt. Running saved me from falling into a black hole. Running and my mom.
I didn’t gain any weight for the rest of college, and started graduate school in Mississippi with high hopes and a semi-new relationship. I was so excited to be in a new place and meet new people. However, once I arrived I learned really quickly that people weren’t who they made themselves out to be, and I found myself alone, struggling to keep up with grad school, and terribly depressed. I wanted to go home and give up.
After Christmas, with a new year and a new mentality, I decided I wasn’t a quitter. I tackled things one at a time. First up: keeping myself from getting kicked out of grad school. I started getting to know some people that semester, did much better in classes, and ended the semester with lots of fun memories, a group of friends, and a 3.6 semester GPA.
That summer I started working out again with two of my friends, although I really struggled to lose weight. I gained about 40 pounds between graduating college and finishing my first year of grad school. I went to classes, did the elliptical, ate better, nothing seemed to work. I got discouraged and working out fell by the wayside once the fall started back up. Football games and starting to date again (Zach ) plus research and class just took priority. I was so happy. But not completely myself yet.
I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to run again. But I had some type of mental block that was stopping me from putting on my shoes and heading out. I think it was because I was so happy in all aspects of my life, I just didn’t want to face “failure” in the one part of my life that was missing.
Finally in April, with Zoe and Zach, I put on my shoes and ran a mile. And it sucked. But it was so great at the same time. I loved pushing myself and the feeling of reaching a goal. Who cares if it was only a mile? I did it! And just like that, I was back.
I decided in June that this is it. I’m a runner and I always have been.
I love running.
It makes me feel alive.