I had the best run of my life this morning. I never thought I’d hear myself say that a five mile run was easy and I enjoyed it. I also may never say it again, but today I felt like I was flying and I could have completed double the distance and then some, which is a good thing since I am registered for the ODDyssey half marathon in May.
I’ve never been a runner. I went out for track one year in high school and all I remember about it, in addition to most of the meets being long, cold, and boring, it was clear that my lack of speed and enthusiasm were indicators that I should stick to swimming. Although if I had stopped to consider the fact that my first memory of swimming was cheering coming from the bleachers when I finished my first event (a full two lengths after everyone else did) I might have given track a second try.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how strange life is and today was no exception. I recalled the conversation that took place in 2003 and in many ways started a transformation.
“Beth, Trudy here. The annual fundraiser for the Omaha Opera Guild is coming up and I’d love for you to chair the silent auction.”
“Me? I don’t even belong to the guild and I wouldn’t know the first thing about chairing a silent auction.”
Not one to take no for an answer, Trudy named a dozen reasons why I was perfect for the job as well as why it would be a great experience. I don’t think she took a single breath and before I knew it I agreed.
After conducting dozens of meetings, making hundreds of phone calls, and compiling the list of auction items and prices I found myself facing the most daunting task of all. It was time to find a dress for this very formal event. While trying on one size after another I realized that my entire wardrobe was designed with stretchy material and waistbands and I had done a good job of convincing myself that it wasn’t that I had gained weight but that my scale was off by thirty pounds.
One of the auction items that caught my eye was a trial membership to Curves, a women’s fitness center. The cartoon-like image of a woman in decreasing sizes and the caption “We’re Downsizing” made me laugh (and think) and in a moment of impulse I bid on it and ‘won.’
I procrastinated for a couple of months and it took a doctor’s report that my blood pressure was high to motivate me enough to redeem the trial membership and join Weight Watchers. Outside of chasing kids around the house and walking between the parking lot and my office I hadn’t exercised in over fifteen years and I was embarrassed to find that the thirty minute circuit workout wore me out.
Three years, thirty pounds lighter and many inches smaller I looked and felt better than I had since my early twenties. Between 2003 and 2006 a connection at Curves led me to Pilates and my instructor turned me on to kickboxing, which I loved more than anything I’ve done before or since but unfortunately my knees didn’t feel the same way.
I researched options and evaluated treatments for osteoarthritis. I read several articles that promoted strengthening the muscles around the knees as a method of pain management. I knew I didn’t want to go back to a sedentary lifestyle so I decided to give it a try. Among the recommended forms of exercise was my favorite, swimming, and one the doctor recommended, biking.
It was winter and I didn’t own a bike so I tried out a spinning class and was hooked. I became a regular and I learned that spring isn’t followed by summer, it’s followed by triathlon season.
One of the other regulars stopped me after class one day, “Beth, you should do a triathlon this summer. There’s a great one coming up in July and a bunch of people from here are doing it.”
I laughed, “You’re kidding, right?”
“Why not?” she said.
“Well, for starters I don’t own a bike and secondly I don’t run.”
She convinced me that people walk during the run portion of the event, I knew I could swim, and I’d been thinking about buying a bike. I registered for the sprint distance triathlon associated with the Cornhusker State Games and tried to wrap my head around swimming just under a mile, biking twelve miles, and last but not least the 3.1 mile run walk segment; then I bought a bike. Since then I’ve completed seven triathlons and five half marathons, each one of them became a story of their own.
This morning the timeline of events and people circled through my head as I ran and it dawned on me that every time I acted on “impulse,” unexpected and wonderful things happened. I realized that it wasn’t impulse at all; when I open my heart and my head to new experiences, when I follow my instincts, and when I pay attention to the ‘me’ that I was meant to be, amazing things happen.