Imagine this, You are a Senior on the varsity basketball team. You don’t get a lot of playing time, so you are truly excited to be in the game. All of a sudden, your coach yells loud enough so that the entire gymnasium could hear, “You know why I have you back here Laura? Because, your too slow.” I was crushed and embarrassed. I loved team sports growing up, but I always dreaded the running part of practice. Running around the block seemed like an ultra marathon. I was almost always one of the slowest on whichever team I was part of. Running a mile seemed insurmountable. I had run a few 5K races with the family, but truly felt complete exhaustion for days after a 3.1 mile race.
For some reason, I was always drawn to the idea of being able to run a long distance and enjoy it. It seemed like something so beyond my range of ability.
Fast-forward a few months. My desire to pursue running was about to change. College had begun. I was on a first date with a guy I really liked (He is now my husband). He had been an awesome cross country runner in high school and was still running. His times were impressive. As conversation progressed that on our first date, out of my mouth came words that shocked me, “Oh, you like to run, we should go running sometime together.” As I got into bed that night I thought about what I had actually said. I was suggesting that I go running with someone who could easily run a 10K! It was that evening back in September of 1997, that I realized I had better start running again so that I would be able to follow through on my proposed running date!
My desire to be a runner started out as I wanted to impress a guy, and have something in common with him.
Weeks of running started to come together, and sure enough I can still remember one of our first runs. I think I ended up stopping once or twice, but we made it five miles! I was pretty proud of myself. It was pretty incredible to have had the support of someone who did not question my desire to run no matter how out of shape I probably seemed. He believed in me, and treated me as if I was a runner and good enough to be running with. He allowed me to be part of the community of runners when I was not sure I was good enough to belong. I can still remember what that felt like, which is why I am always striving to give others that same experience.
For me the mile run that seemed near impossible turned into several 5K, 10K and 20K, 2 half marathons, 23 marathons and one ultra marathon . I remember after he ran his first Detroit marathon, I thought, I can do that. And, I will do that. At the time, I really had no idea what exactly a marathon was. I am not sure I even understood how many miles it was when I decided it was something I would do. I was not trained correctly for my first marathon. I felt it, and gained a whole new respect for distance running. I remember my uncle (also a marathon runner), telling me that I would have the desire to run another one when I finished the race. At mile 17, I did not think that was possible! Never again would I run! This was hard! Sure enough, he was right. Upon crossing the finish line on Ford Field back in 2002, as tears welled up in my eyes, I realized I was hooked.
Running has carried me through two college degrees, studying in Mexico, changes in jobs, three pregnancies, and 15 years of marriage. I ran through a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, teaching layoffs, a miscarriage, and all of the uncertainty that comes with life.
Today, I am a middle school teacher and a mom of three very busy kids. I have never stopped running. It has carried me through some of my toughest times. I know that I can always count on the road, and that no matter what, if I show up and run, I am always better because of it. Running brings me closer to God. Today I run to be an example for my kids and my students and connect with other athletes. But, most importantly I run for me.
I run because it allows me time to pray, be brave, overcome challenges, connect to others, enjoy competition, be healthy, handle stress, be in the moment, be creative, engage with the beautiful world, think big and discover a way to become the best version of myself.
I am a wife, mother, educator, writer, reader and marathon runner. I blog at EnjoyingEveryMile.com and chase my impossible. Follow me on Twitter at @lmcdonell14