Melissa is an example and inspiration to me on so many levels. I was so excited when she agreed to share her story and some of her thoughts about running. I hope you enjoy getting to know Melissa a little bit, too. (Melissa, come back to Brooklyn! We’ll run through the park and dance in the woods. It’ll be awesome.)
I am one of those individuals who never thought they would be a runner. Running, when you’re not accustomed to it, is a really challenging thing – even painful at the start. So if you told me three years ago I would be waking up at 4:30 in the mornings to run miles in the Texas summer heat and humidity so that I could be home by the time my son woke up, I might have given you a funny look and replied, “Do you know me at all?” But somewhere in that I time I got it in my head that I wanted to push myself to become someone exceptional, someone I could be proud of. Among 29 other steep goals I set for myself in my “30 Goals Before I Turn 30 List” was one I questioned if I’d ever be able to do – run a half marathon. I never consulted a trainer or recommended training schedules, as I began preparing months before the Brooklyn Half in May 2010. I just figured if I could run one additional mile every week for 12 weeks I’d be ready for the race – my first ever race, by the way. Aside from middle school track meets. 🙂
The thing about running I love, is not just the feeling of invigoration, empowerment, happy endorphins and improved body image I get when I run. It’s not just the sense that I’m improving my health and setting an example of fitness within my family. It isn’t even for the cool tech shirts and metals they give you on race day. Though, those are pretty awesome. I love running because when I do, my mind is clear and open to new thoughts – thoughts that very often bring me closer to God and open a window that sheds some “light bulb” light onto my situation. In the last couple years, I have had some trials thrown my way that would have been more difficult to get through without this time to run, to think, to let my mind and body work. I’m sure those treadmill runners out there have a satisfying workout in their own setting, but for me, being active outdoors in nature is the best part of the whole experience! I find so much insight and renewed energy while surrounded by God’s beautiful creations. Call me hokey, but after enough times running through Prospect Park, having my mind unlocked to parallels between physical elements and deeper life learning, I realized that this is probably a hobby I should keep up.
I can admit that I have at times stopped running to kind of dance-run, or rather flail my appendages in a almost dance-like manner while running in the woods to my music when I’m certain no one is looking. I wouldn’t call this one of my higher thinking moments, but sometimes my music gets the better of me and running becomes just plain fun. While I can admit to that in writing, I would be totally mortified if anyone saw such a display! 🙂
Anyway, I did what I set out to do – I finished my first half marathon in under two hours and then ran a second half on my birthday of this year. I’m planning to run a 20k in September, and who knows, someday maybe a full marathon. It might just make the “40 Before 40 List.”