Hey guys, I’m actually en route to NY today (with a 9 hour layover in Chi-town to hang out with one of my best friends/bridesmaids Katie), so one of my online buddies, Chelsea, was kind enough to write a guest post for me. I could totally do a post during my layover, but Katie and I will probably be sitting on a patio somewhere drinking beer and heckling passersby. I’m so excited to have her as my FIRST guest blogger, so make sure you check out her blog as well!
Hi, my name is Chelsea, and I blog over at The Dancing Runner. I am so excited to be doing a guest post for my blogging/food swapping/instagramming buddy Jen!
I am going to tell you a love story. It’s not one that you hear everyday. This is one about my affair with hitting the pavement. Getting up early, embracing the sunrise, and putting one foot in front of the other. Sweating and taking time to clear your mind and jump start the day. Some runners you will meet have been running for years, and ran track throughout high school and college. Not me. I wasn’t always the avid runner and fitness junkie. Quite the opposite, actually. I took ballet, tap and jazz dance classes as a young girl but that’s about the extent of it.
In high school, I wrote for the school paper and was in the choir. Academics was my thing. Athletics, not so much.
I went off to college, and got introduced to the Freshman 15 (more like the Freshman 25 or 30). Endless nights of partying, drinks and pizza packed on the pounds. I had to do something about it. Being the chubby girl was not so fun.
I joined Weight Watchers my sophomore year of college and began working out. I would leisurely run on the treadmill, no more than 3 or 4 miles at a time. I would do Tae Bo tapes in my dorm room (yes I said TAPES…as in VHS), whatever would get me moving whenever. Slowly the weight began to come off, and then some. Over the course of a year I had dropped 50 pounds. I graduated college a happier, healthier individual.
Post college and going into the working world I had a desk job where I wouldn’t get up for hours at a time…I also started working overnight. Those late night hours seriously take a toll on your body. At this point I was still running off and on, mostly on the treadmill. I would go to the gym during the day, and bust it out for as long as I could before I got tired. Sooner or later I was running up to 6 or 7 miles at a time! It was so fun to up my mileage like that. It also did wonders for my mood.
3 years into my career at said overnight desk job, I got hit with a layoff. It was a devastating feeling but also a blessing in disguise. I finally had my life back! I found out about a local running store in the area that I lived in that had weekly social runs and started going to them. Running outside, this was new to me! The first few times I ran with the group, I was a lot slower than everyone. But still, running and being in the camaraderie of others was awesome. One day someone told me about the store’s half marathon training program. The idea intrigued me. I went to the orientation to check it out. Wow, 13.1 miles…I thought to myself. That sure is a lot. Quite intimidating, actually. But I’m just going to do it and we’ll just see what happens. I had more drive and motivation than ever before, and the Saturday long runs with the group was huge motivation. In the fall of 2009, I completed my very first half marathon. It was such a feeling of accomplishment.
The half marathon was a stepping stone to train for a full marathon. In 2010, I ran the Chicago Marathon with my teammates. 26.2 miles done.
Fast forward to today. I have run 4 full marathons, more halfs than I can count, and am training for my 5th race, the Marine Corps Marathon in DC this October. I also coach the same running group that I joined and have become a fitness instructor teaching dance classes at the gym. I have to say that falling in love with running has changed my life for the better, and I have made some lifelong friends through the sport.
Today, running serves a different purpose for me. It really is not all about racing or training for marathons all the time. It’s about getting up with the sunrise, putting one foot in front of the other, and clearing my thoughts. Every run is not perfect or amazing. Just having this ability to run, something that some may not be able to do for whatever reason, means everything to me. I am thankful for every mile, every drop of sweat, and every minute I have to give it all I’ve got. This love of mine will surely last a lifetime, and I’m in it for the long haul.
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