The following is a guest blog from Brooks Blog Ambassador Emily of Daily Garnish. Visit Daily Garnish for more reasons to say “Thank you, running!”
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why I’m thankful for running. Since I laced up my running shoes for the first time back in 2006 – almost ten long years ago – so much about my life has changed. Much of that has had to do with the natural course of life – aging, relationships, jobs, etc. – but a lot of it has also stemmed from that very first run.
I set out on my first run because I was trying to lose weight, and walking was taking way too long. No really, that’s why. I had been going for lots of long walks after work, hoping to trim off the excess pounds I’d put on in college and the years that followed, and I was starting to realize that walking was a really inefficient way of exercising.
My first run was ugly – cotton shorts, a baggy t-shirt, and shoes that were probably the wrong size and many years old. I knew it wasn’t something I was going to do without a goal, so my best friend and I signed up for the Race for the Cure 5K that was coming up a few months later. We looked up training plans, and settled on the Couch to the 5K. We hung a training plan by our front door (we were also roommates!) and one by one we checked off each run. I will never forget the first time I ran one whole mile without stopping!
We did that race, and then signed up for another. I guess you could say we had the “bug.” We did a 10K on Thanksgiving Day, and shortly after that, we found ourselves signing up for the Flying Pig Marathon. My boyfriend at the time (who later became my husband!) started training too, and the three of us set out on this amazing adventure together. Some of my favorite running memories are still centered on those first long runs we ever did. The pre-run pasta dinners on Friday night, entire Saturdays planned around those 16, 17, and 18-mile loops, and all the napping and eating that followed. We ran the Flying Pig, and then all ran the Chicago Marathon together a few months later.
In the years that followed, so much about my life changed. I got engaged, and eventually married. I ran the Flying Pig Marathon again the week before my wedding (and set a personal best time that I’d love to beat someday!). I quit my job, enrolled in culinary school, and left Ohio – where I had lived for 27 years – to head for North Carolina and a new beginning. I started over in a new city and as a new student, and just as I learned the streets and the route to school and back, I also learned new running routes and found the greenways. I ran the Charlotte Marathon, and finally felt at home in my new city.
But as it turned out, other plans were in place. We packed up the moving truck again and headed to Washington, DC. I found new trails and amazing new running spots – through the National Mall, the monuments, along the Potomac, and through my beloved Old Town, Alexandria. I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon, and just three weeks before the race – a few days after my 20 mile run – I was hit by a car while crossing the street. My running came to a screeching halt, and I struggled both mentally and physically afterward.
Eventually I got back into my running shoes, and I started thinking about what I could train for next. And after living in the DC area for only nine short months, a job opportunity came up for my husband that had us packing up the moving truck yet again. And this time we were headed west – all the way to Seattle. That same week, I found out I was pregnant.
I wasn’t much of a pregnant runner, and I was busy settling in to a new life thousands of miles away from everything I knew. My son was born, and my life flipped upside down again as my focus shifted onto him and less and less onto myself. It took me a while to get back into running after having a baby, but bit by bit I found myself out on the trail with a jogging stroller – same girl, new look. I did what I always do when I need motivation – I signed up for a race. And 8 months after I had my older son, I ran the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon. And at the end of that year, I got pregnant again.
I ran a bit more during my second pregnancy than my first, up until a little over the halfway point. My second son arrived, and I learned new meaning to the words exhausted and overwhelmed. Eventually, I got back at it again, and eight months later I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon (again), as well as the See Jane Run Half Marathon the following month.
That brings us all to way up to now – nine years after my very first run. I was 25 then, working days in non-profit fundraising and nights in retail, living in Ohio with my best friend, and spending my free time playing flip cup and binge-watching “The OC.” I’m thirty four now – I’m a wife, I’m a mom, I’m a writer, and now I spend my free time watching the Bachelorette.
Not much about my life these days resembles the girl I was back then. But one thing that has followed me through it all has been running. Running gave me a familiar sense of peace and comfort in new cities I was learning to love. No matter where I lived, I always found starting lines and communities full of people all looking for that finish.
Running made me feel like myself again after my car accident and the birth of my children. In a body that no longer felt like or resembled what I remembered, lacing up my shoes and turning up my headphones helped me recapture an identity that I was desperately searching for.
So thank you, running. Thank you for always being there through life’s twists and turns. Thank you for finding me when I needed to find a passion. Thank you for always being there no matter how many times I moved, or how many breaks I needed. Thank you for bringing me new friends, new scenery and a new strong body. Thank you for both following me on and guiding me through life’s journeys.
Emily is the blogger behind Daily Garnish, where she writes about food, fitness and fun. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and two goofy dogs. She is a culinary arts graduate, nutrition facts lover, vegetarian chef, marathon runner, country music maniac, failed dog trainer, barre fanatic and loving mama.