Wednesday, June 01, 2011

National Running Day: Why I Run

today is National Running Day and all over the country, folks will be lacing up their sneakers and hitting the street to celebrate our country's most favorite pastime. (ok, so maybe not our country's most fave pastime, but a runner can dream, can't she?!?)

i thought what better time to share why i run-- my running testimonial, if you will! it's a long one, but i've included photos of Fat Katie to make it worth your while!

as an adolescent, i was never overly athletic. i was on swim team for a summer, i shot hoops in my driveway every night, i jogged here and there, but as for getting really down and dirty? no way, not me.

you see, i think there's a misconception that if you're skinny, you've naturally been blessed with athletic genes and that sports just come easy to you. i am living proof that this couldn't be further from the truth. up through my college years, the number on my scale never tipped passed 117 pounds, but this low body weight was paired with flat feet, knock knees and disproportionately large hips for my body type. bad joints run in my family and i've been plagued with knee problems my entire life. an olympian, i was just never destined to be.

do you remember when they would perform those "fitness tests" at school? you know, where they make you climb a rope, do a "sit and reach" test to measure your flexibility or have you run a mile? these are the days in gym that i dreaded most. that one mile run loomed over me as if i had a dark cloud D-tag strapped to my foot, trailing me wherever i went. there was just no possible way i could complete a mile without stopping and, inevitably, i would be the last person to cross the finish line and everyone in class would know that i was physically the weak link.

my ineptitude incarnate even followed me through high school where the cross country coach dubbed me "lazy white girl." (and, yes, there are people that still remember this and call me that to this day.)

in 2003, i relocated my slender, yet unskilled, body to New York City. it didn't take long in the Land of Delivery Food and Cheap Pizza for my once svelte frame to turn into a fleshy pillow of fat. that 117 on the scale steadily crept to 150 in about the course of two years. since i had maintained the same weight for about a decade, i had no idea what was even happening. why aren't my pants fitting? why am i oozing out of my bras? why am i so tired all the time? i thought my body was simply "changing." maybe this is just what happens as you get older?

then it finally hit me. i was fat. it was the worst epiphany i have ever had.

that year, i asked for a pair of running shoes for Christmas. i started with running to the train station and back. then from one train station to the next. i was scared to do too much too quickly because i knew that my body wasn't made like other bodies. and i definitely knew that my body wasn't made for running.

then i joined a gym. it seems silly, but this is where i really learned to listen to my body, to believe in it, to trust it. all these years, i thought my body had been telling me to take it easy, when really, it hadn't been saying that all. actually, it had kept all sorts of secrets locked away from me.

after spending a few months in the gym to work out all the kinks, i was finally ready to hit the street again. well, hit the park is more like it. there's a park in my neighborhood where one loop around equals 1/3 of a mile. i was ready to prove all those gym teachers and sideline taunters that i could run a mile and, dammit, i was going to run a mile if it was the last f*cking thing i did!

one loop around and i was already mentally battling with myself. two loops around and i was ready to call it quits. three loops around and... WAIT, WHAT?!? THREE LOOPS AROUND? ONE MILE??? i swear, in my head it was like my wedding day, seeing my first born for the first time, winning the lottery and getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame all at once. i was feeling cockier than Kanye!

and from then on, i've been hooked on that high, that sense of accomplishment that just trumps everything else, that knowledge that you can push yourself to the limit and still survive. and that? well, that's just the best feeling ever.

i hope that today all of you get out there and run. run a mile, run around the block, run to the ice cream truck. run with me, run with someone else, run by yourself. listen to your body, believe in your body, trust your body. accomplish something, trump something, feel something. all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other...

me at my very first race.


Erick Dozier said...

You constantly amaze me with the fact that you roll up out of the house and run half marathons like you're just heading out to the corner to buy groceries or something. Can't wait to cheer for you in the NYC Marathon!

Shannon said...

You seriously are an inspiration, Katie. No foolin. Keep runnin, girl...I'll be standing next to Erick!

KatieWisdm said...

thank you, guys! that really means the world to me!!!

Anonymous said...

i almost got a semi! nice pink undies!!

Joerunner said...

Thanks for sharing your journey. While I am not as fast as I once was I am ever so grateful for all the positives I get from running (Ben and Jerry's NY super fudge chunk). I get to realize the essence of hard work and the rewards that come to fruition from them. Like you I enjoy all that running offered me. Stay health!