March 07, 2020

One of the Most Surreal Experiences of My Life: Guts to Glory

Yesterday, something popped up on my "Facebook Memories" that made me stop and think back to what a crazy experience I had back in 2014.

In 2009, I never, ever, EVER would have believed you if you told me that this would happen in just 5 years. In 2009, I was 253 pounds (my heaviest non-pregnant weight). My only exercise consisted of walking around my house doing laundry, cooking, etc.

I had never run a single mile in my entire life (I always got out of it in gym class). I hated exercise SO much. I dreamed of losing weight, but I wanted to do it without exercising. I basically wanted to go to sleep one night and just wake up skinny.

I remember asking my friend Renee about her running--I specifically asked, "So, if you were to just go out and run one mile, would that be easy? What would that feel like?" I was stunned when she seemed sort of taken aback, replying, "Yeah, I could do that. I wouldn't be out of breath or anything, unless I was running really hard. But running a mile isn't hard."

She seemed almost embarrassed (I guess "humble" would be the right word) about the fact that running a mile was no big deal to her. I, on the other hand, was speechless. "Seriously, you can run a mile like it's no big deal?!" I asked her.

It was Renee that started me on my running journey. She saw that I had written "Enter a 5K race and RUN it" on my list of 30 goals by the time I'm 30 years old. I honestly never really expected to do it, but since I love writing goals, it made sense at the time.

After seeing that on my list, she followed up with a card saying that she was supportive of me and would help me prepare for the race; and that she'd even run it with me. I faked the excitement; I was honestly feeling sort of frustrated that I would actually have to follow through. I couldn't make excuses for this one.

But I didn't want to let her down. So, I signed up for a 5K that was in October 2010, and I started training in May 2010 after I walked a half-marathon in Indy.

I was able to run the 5K distance within weeks (I think about 6 weeks?). I wasn't fast, but I was able to do it. I kept training, going farther and faster as time went on. I ran my first half-marathon in May 2011, and my first full marathon in May 2012.

Who was that person?! Certainly not me.

So, imagine how shocking it was on March 6, 2014, to see my photo on a full page spread in April 2014's edition of RUNNER'S WORLD MAGAZINE.

It was SO surreal. How on earth had I gone from 253 pounds and not exercising at all to 133 pounds and running marathons? That alone was mind-blowing, but then to be in RUNNER'S WORLD magazine? What!

RW sent a photographer all the way from Chicago to do a photoshoot. We went to my parents' house because they have a huge backroom that would give the photographer plenty of space.

My friend Stephanie, who does photography as a hobby (she's amazing!) was very interested in watching, so I invited her over to watch. She took some pictures during the process, which were pretty fun to see--the side by side of the behind-the-scenes vs. what was in the magazine (or at least considered for the magazine).

Here are a few:

Runner's World had sent me a bunch of clothes and even shoes to try on and use for the photoshoot. Whatever I wore for the shoot, they let me keep. It was so exciting!

The photographer said that RW wanted photos of me being "serious" and "strong"--not smiling. I cannot take a picture like that! I remember at my wedding, the photographer said the same thing--he tried to get some serious photos, but I just can't do it. I look ridiculous when I don't smile.

Anyway, here are some other photos that were shot that day:

I just cannot believe that this all happened. Looking back on it, it feels like a dream. Runner's World magazine is very well-known in the running community, and to say that I was blessed enough to share my store in it? Well, I just can't express the words.

Here is the article (my pages, anyway). You can click on these to enlarge--hopefully they'll be readable!

It's been six years, and so much has happened since then. But I am so so so grateful to have had this experience!

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