If you’re been following my journey, you already know that I post about my training, life, etc. on this blog. Looking back, though, I’m not sure I ever truly explained why I’m doing all of this. I’m sure you’re wondering, what’s the point of this blog? Why does Ashley post a lot? Where did this all start?
I like to expose the hardships, joys, and triumphs of running, while still keeping my life somewhat private. But, I’d like to share something personal today, and I think now’s the perfect to time to explain why I really started training for a Marathon.
Let me start off by saying that I never really wanted to train for a marathon. I had absolutely no desire.
I’ve always been slender, but never truly in shape—this really deceived people. Everyone always assumed that I was a health nut and that I was always focused on fitness, just because of my size.
What people didn’t realize, though, is that I used to get winded just going up a single flight of stairs while trying to get to class in college. I always tried to catch the elevator because I hated that winded feeling. I ate terribly all of the time—I’m talking pints of ice cream almost every night to myself.
Although I only gained around 10lbs in college, I was not healthy—not even close. I also didn’t like to workout. I hardly ever did.One day in early 2015, my mom and I decided to try to train and run our first 5K together. She was in the middle of her journey of losing weight, and I was her support, while trying to get in shape myself. We used the C25K (Couch to 5K) app as our training plan.
I could barely run for a minute straight, and I really disliked running if I’m being completely honest. I knew nothing about it and could barely run without wanting to just quit.
We ran our first 5K at the OKC Memorial Marathon run exactly 2 years ago.
I remember wanting to just be able to run the whole 3.1 miles. During one of our last training runs, maybe a week or two before the 5K, we ran the course to get an idea of how hard it would be. We took so many walk breaks and finished in 45 minutes.
The day of the 5K, we both just wanted to finish. I ended up running my first 5K in 32 minutes and 39 seconds—10:32 minutes per mile. I was so shocked that I finished so much sooner than I had anticipated. Adrenaline is amazing.
And then, literally the next day after the race, I found out that I was pregnant!
I tried to continue running that summer, but had some issues with bleeding during pregnancy. Since it was my first pregnancy, and I’m such a paranoid person, I chose to stop running and exercising all together. My mom continued running throughout the Fall of 2015.
We had our daughter, Ellie, in December of 2015 via C-section.
My mom decided to start training for her first Half Marathon in January of 2016. She was going to run the same race that we had done for our first 5K, the OKC Memorial Marathon run, exactly a year later.
Since I had just had a c-section in late December of 2015, I wasn’t cleared for any physical activity in January of 2016. The race was in April of 2016. I made the decision to start running again in February and signed up for my second 5K.
Half Marathon training seemed WAY too intense for me, and I had no desire to run that far.
I ran a mile here, 2 miles there, following Hal Higdon’s 5K plan. I ran around my neighborhood in Owasso, OK at night, or at 10-Gym on the treadmill right after work. Having a newborn, while my husband was working nights, made it difficult… but I managed to make it work.
Race day came and I truly just wanted to do the same thing that I did for my first 5K: I wanted to run the whole time.
Training for a 5K literally less than 2 months after my C-section… training for something physical like that, after a major surgery and not being physically active for year prior to that during pregnancy, was incredibly tough.
Once I finished that 5K literally a year ago, I was hooked… but not in the way I would’ve ever imagined. A friend finished her first Marathon that year, and my mom announced that she wanted to go for her first Marathon in 2017.
I told my husband that I had absolutely no desire to run a marathon, ever.
Even though running that far wasn’t appealing at the time, something about my mom’s sense of accomplishment after her first Half Marathon just struck a nerve with me. Seeing the sense of accomplishment within her was just mesmerizing, and truly contagious. I really had the desire to experience that feeling for some reason.
I’m definitely a work-oriented person. I was such a driven Elementary Teacher. You know that crazy teacher that spent way too much time at school? That was me. While I was incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to stay at home, transitioning from working all of the time to staying at home was a huge adjustment for me.
After having our daughter, I somehow lost myself. I really struggled to figure out who I was again.
My whole life had drastically changed, both mentally and physically after I had our daughter. I didn’t recognize my body, my mind, or my life. While we had this beautiful, brand new baby, I was struggling to figure out why I was struggling so much with this, even though this was such a happy time in our lives.
It was extremely hard for me because I looked around, and every other new mom at the time seemed to have their lives in order. It was so confusing, and frustrating to me.
Little did I know, I ‘lost’ myself a long time ago–back when I made work my only focus.
I really never had any true hobbies, other than traveling. I always joked that teaching was my hobby.
Then, after realizing my life didn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, defined by work, I discovered something for myself:
I had no idea that staying at home would force me to figure out who I really was, and wow am I grateful for that!
I asked her if she thought I could run my first Half Marathon in 2017. She said I could run it in Fall of 2016.
Talk about life-changing. That running group has helped me form friendships that I would’ve never had the opportunity to obtain on my own.
Now, here I am fixing to go out and run 26.2 miles for the first time on Sunday, April 30th, 2017.
Life is funny.
I’m being completely honest when I say that I’m not really sure what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t ever found something like this to call my own. This journey has saved me and made me into such a stronger person than I could have ever imagined.
So, I’m thankful that I didn’t make excuses when life got tough, even though it was incredibly hard. I’m so thankful that I made myself a priority. And, I’m so thankful that my husband understood my need to have something all to myself and allowed me to be ‘selfish’. I needed that more than I ever could’ve imagined.
Now I’m a better wife, mom, friend, and person for doing this for myself. I needed this.
I’m sharing my story to let everyone know that anything is possible–the sky’s the limit. We get to choose (for the most part) how we want our lives to be.
And, just know that you’re worth it. You’re worth fighting for. You’re worth discovering.
Life gets tough, but our perspective on the curveballs life throws at us is really up to us, and us alone. I know it can be difficult, trust me. I never thought I’d ever be a runner, but here I am. We each find our own ways to cope, and running is how I choose to hand life’s curveballs.
This running journey gave me something to call my own.
I’m tearing up just writing about this, so I know that I’ll be crying when I cross that finish line on Sunday, 26.2 miles later.
Running essentially saved my life in many ways, and I’m forever grateful.