11/12: Thankful for my mental health

11/12: Thankful for my mental health.  Many people take for granted ‘being of sound mind and judgement’. There are some people who aren’t and sadly many don’t have the support needed to get help. Yes, we all make bad decisions and sometimes act irrational, but we aren’t faced with the constant struggle for our sanity.

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Running The Race Against Myself

On Thanksgiving morning I silenced my biggest critic by doing something I was told that I could/would never do; and who doesn’t love a good ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ moment?!? Unfortunately this accomplishment was bittersweet. The accomplishment: running in cold weather and running long distances straight. Why was this a bittersweet moment? The critic…… was me. For years I have held myself back by saying that I’m not a runner, that I could never run in cold weather, that I could never run long distances, etc. I came up with all kinds of reasons why I wasn’t a runner.

In May 2010 I signed up for a beginners running program and as a result, ran my first 5K that October. I ran the entire 3.2 miles thanks to the help and support of my running partner Allyson. Allyson was the person that motivated me to join the same program that she had previously completed. It was Allyson that offered to run with me during the race and it was Allyson that ran by my side the entire time making sure I was ok, pushing me when I wanted to stop. I have a picture of the two of us crossing the finish line with her hand on my shoulder, it was definitely a picture perfect finish.

After that race I ran one, maybe two more times but stopped because the weather was considerably colder and I had always had difficulty breathing in ‘cold’ weather (the coldest I had run in was 70 degrees *_*). I ran during lunch for a few weeks in January 2011 while I had a free pass to a YMCA. After that, I didn’t run again until March. That was short lived and I didn’t run again until October when I joined the local chapter of Black Girls Run (www.BlackGirlsRun.com). Since then I have pushed myself (with the strong encouragement and support of the ladies in my group and one of my best friends, Rhadi) to do things I have previously said I could/would never do when it comes to running.

After a 3 week hiatus (and being called out for my absence by one of my BGR sisters, Tonya), I ran with the group and later that night I put a post on Facebook asking my friends who wanted to join me for a run Thanksgiving morning. One of my BGR sisters, Ericka suggested I join the ladies that were planning to run one of the Turkey Trots. So at 10pm that Wednesday night I decided to run my first 8K.

Thanksgiving morning I woke up excited about the challenge of completing an 8K and with the intention of running the entire 5 miles. I got dressed in layers, grabbed my MP3 player, cell phone, chap stick and headed to meet the rest of the crew. When I got out the car it was 40 degrees…. and the self doubt automatically began. In my head I was telling myself that I wasn’t going to be able to run the entire race because my lungs weren’t conditioned to run in that weather.

I met up with the BGR crew that was there for the race, including Marleenee who came just to cheer us on and take pictures, and as a group we made our way to the starting line. As I looked amongst our group and the crowd of people in their coordinated attire with ‘runner’s bodies’, I again began to doubt myself. Clearly I was making assumptions based on appearance but I reminded myself that I’m an inconsistent runner that hadn’t trained for this event, so running the entire race wasn’t physically possible.

The gun sounded, I crossed the starting line, started my stopwatch and began the race against my biggest competition, my mind. My only game plan was to run my race and not worry about the pace of the other thousands of runners around me. I didn’t know the route of the race but had overheard that there were a few hills. 😦 There were a few moments that were tough but I pushed through and quickly overcame the slightly difficult moments, especially those damn hills. At one point I could hear my friend Rhadi’s voice in my head saying “I shouldn’t want this for you more than you want this for yourself.” (Mind you he has never said those words to me, but that is definitely something he would say!!) Go figure the race ended on a hill, but as soon as I saw the word FINISH, tears began to gather in my eyes. They weren’t tears of joy or excitement but tears of saddness and disappointment. Sad because I have been my own bully; disappointed that it took 1:03:24 to discover that I don’t give myself enough credit for my own strength and abilities.

The last 3 words of my Facebook status before heading to the race says it all and will be my reminder:

In 2009 I remember thinking people were crazy for running races Thanksgiving morning. May 2010 I started running. Thanksgiving 2011 I’m crashing a Turkey Trot. Simply put, I AM EVOLUTION!!!!
My next milestone…running a half marathon in March. SEE YOU AT THE FINISH LINE!!!!