For starters, three years ago I had a breast cancer scare. At 23-years-old, I had a doctor look at me and with no positivity in his face, say, “It’ll take about 3 weeks for us to get the results from your biopsy. Till then, well…you’ll figure it out.” Now THAT was reassuring. All I knew was that from that point on, no matter the outcome, I’d do my best to never have “woulda, coulda, shoulda” regrets. I’d actually live instead of just existing and I’d make my life count. About a month earlier, I had left the professional contemporary dance company in AZ I was performing with and I knew I wanted to keep exercising in some way. So, even though I hated the idea, I decided to take up running.
After a few weeks of starting my running program, I was at a convention up in Salt Lake City, and that’s when I first saw him. He was beautiful – tan skin, dark hair, blue eyes, chiseled features like a Roman statue and a body to sing praises to. Seriously. We started talking and he mentioned that in three months he’d be running a half marathon that was really close to where I lived. When he said that we should run together I TOTALLY jumped at the idea (duh)! “Races are the best because they give you chocolate milk when you’re done and it’s super good! I’ll meet you there-we can run together!” We exchanged numbers and I headed home…after stopping to buy my first pair of running shoes in years. A dancer at heart, I was always of the mindset that I didn’t need running because I already exercised “enough.” I’d find all sorts of excuses about hip/knee pain, how I wasn’t built to run or how I never had time for it. Now though, after meeting Aaron, I had all the time in the world to do it. Not only did I have time, I had another reason to run.
I found a training schedule and was off. Each week I’d add more mileage or cut down on my time. Each week I’d continue my strength training from dance and mix in bursts of cardio. Each week I got closer and closer to becoming what I thought would impress this boy. During my training, the cancer-free news came, but I didn’t stop running; I couldn’t stop. Just because my body didn’t have the disease didn’t mean that I was going to stop taking care of my body. It had become a habit.
Race day came. My first half marathon. I couldn’t find Aaron at the start line, but figured that we’d see each other after. The starting gun went off and my heart started racing as people pushed forward. The morning was crisp, scenery beautiful and majority of the course was downhill – perfect conditions for my first race. Smiling as I crossed the finish line, I started looking for my drop bag, free food and (of course) Aaron.
Digging though my bag, I found my phone with a text: Hey! Something came up and I can’t make it. -A
No “call when you’re done” or “we’ll plan another.” A smile grew and I started laughing. Seriously? Why was I laughing?! It began as an “I knew this would happen” chuckle till I realized something. Something big – my motive for running had done a 360. I was doing it all for him…wasn’t I? After a while, pushing myself to get out the door and run turned into actually liking it. It was what I looked forward to most each day; it’s what got me though the work week. I realized that it was ME I was doing it for. I felt good about myself when I ran. I had grown to love running and love the person I had become because of it. Fitness wasn’t about staying thin, it was about physical, mental and emotional health, all of which are directly and positively impacted by running. I laughed harder thinking that I needed a boy, a stupid boy, to help me realize that about myself.
Walking back to the shuttle bus with a smile the size of Texas, I found that free chocolate milk, and I downed it like a champ. (and I never heard from Aaron again)