(All photos courtesy of Travis Zielinski)
Not too long ago, I could not even run a mile.
Last week, I ran 13.1
It was far more than just running. It was conquering the inner voices that tell me I’m not good enough.
Let me start at the beginning.
About 18 months ago, I decided that it was time to deal with some major emotional baggage, so that I could get on with my life and have some release from the weight, resentment, and deep wounds. As part of my therapy, my counselor suggested running.
Running? Ha. Ha. Hahahaha. Running.
I don’t run. Ever.
But she insisted that I just try it. She said that oftentimes, an emotional hurt needs to be worked out physically, and healing can come to both body and mind. 90% of running is psychological anyway, and she told me that I needed to practice talking myself through the difficult things.
So I tried running. At first, I could hardly run a half mile. Then I pushed myself. A bit farther every day. A mile. Then two.
The voices in my head got louder. Some days they were shouting. “You’re not good enough!” “You’re fat!” “You are never going to see the realization of your dreams! You do not have what it takes to make it or be successful!”
There was one voice that was more harmful than the rest. I gave it a name, the name of the most hateful and negative person who has ever been in my life. I made it my goal to stomp out that voice with every step I took. “You are weak, you are ugly, you are a mistake.” “You are a coward, you will never make anything of yourself.”
Slowly, but surely, I learned to respond back to these voices. As I ran.
“You are weak!” “I am strong.”
“You are a coward.” “I am courageous.”
“You don’t have what it takes, you are a failure.” “I am a conqueror.”
Eventually, an emotion rose up in me that I had never truly sensed before– competitive anger. The voices, the fears taunted me. And I looked them dead in the eyes and said, “Oh yeah, dare me to fail. Just dare me.” There was a definitive day when I stood up and told that voice “NO. You do not get to define me anymore. I have given you power for my entire life, and now I am taking it back. You be silent.”
Now, a year later, I conquered a run that I never thought I’d be able to do. I am also 30lbs lighter, and in a much healthier place emotionally. I would not have been able to do this without the continual, patient support of my closest friends– of Erin, Jamie (my own personal “trainer”!), Travis, and Kelley. Thank you for walking with me, and for always having an ear when needed. Thank you also to Mom and Jose, who believed in me from day 1 and gave me the gift of my first pair of running shoes.
Now, my dad would like to train for a half marathon with me, and I’m starting to look at doing some races abroad. It’s been such an interesting journey to go from “Only run when chased” to
“This is my favorite way to deal with stress”.
The half marathon was in Westminster, Colorado, on a day that was 5 degrees. I am so grateful to Travis, who bundled up and stood outside waiting for me the entire time. Who, like a true photographer, was laying in the snow just to get a good angle as I ran by. Such a good friend. Everyone had icicles on their faces, and the guys with beards had some pretty epic ones. My headband and ponytail were completely frozen over by the end of the race, and for a few days afterward, I thought I had gotten frostbite on one of my ears. Oh, and it was 14.1 miles, because someone didn’t know how to measure the course, but oh well!
I want to use this story as an encouragement to other people– you will change things, just as soon as you’re ready to. I got tired of the voices in my head, and of the baggage I was carrying around. So I dealt with it. Not a moment before I was ready to, and not because anyone else told me to. When you are ready to change things in your life, you will.
Travis told me several times, as a means of encouragement, “You are a lot stronger than you think you are.” I would like to pass that along today. Whether it’s physically, mentally, or emotionally, you have more within you than you think you do. Take that first step, and try yourself.