Forget waiting for mid-life. At 26 years old, I was having a quarter-life crisis.
In the course of two months, I’d lost all I thought I wanted in life with the end of a relationship and then my job. I was devastated and angry and hurt. I hid under my sheets and didn’t answer my phone for a week. My world felt like it stopped turning.
My identity was gone. My hopes and dreams were crushed. My greatest fear was my new reality.
I was drowning in questions: Who am I? What do I want in life? What is my dream?
One night, a glass of wine sounded really good, but I thought maybe I should get a workout in since I’d barely moved from my bed. I promised myself a glass of wine after the workout, so I went for a run. I was so exhausted afterwards that I took a shower and fell asleep -- without ever pouring that glass of wine.
READ MORE: My fearless journey to running a marathon
Running stopped that feeling of being lost and hopeless. On a run, I felt like the tightening of my chest started to break. For a few miles, those questions I kept asking disappeared. Run after run, the answers seemed less important. What became important was believing in myself and what I could do.
I became my only limit.
Ted Spiker knows about limits. He is the founder of the Sub-30 Club, a group of runners that has one simple goal: to break 30 minutes in a 5K. He was recently on a podcast for Runner’s World.
“Running is very revealing,” Spiker said. “Running is honest. Running tells you whether you’ve trained. Running tells you whether you’re carrying extra pounds. Running is symbolic of what you think you’ve done in terms of achieving goals.”
Running gave me all of that and more. It gave me a new sense of energy and a whole lot of endurance -- not to mention the extra laundry and early morning alarms.
Every day I get to look at the sun and say, “I beat you,” which pulled me out of feeling like I was falling into a dark hole.
It gave me a goal, too. In 2016, I decided I may as well make it my year of running. I went from finishing my first 10-miler in the spring to completing the Chicago Marathon in the fall. For nearly a week, despite staring at the medal, I still didn’t believe I’d run so far.
After the marathon, a runner I train with texted me: “So you’re running Houston, right?”
No way. I was one and done.
Or so I thought.
When I started running, my hopes and fears of my future changed.
My fear that I’d never cross the finish line changed into a fear of not pushing myself to be my best.
My hope to run further than I thought possible pushed me to take one more step each day.
On Sunday, I am running the Houston Marathon, not because I want to prove anything, but because running has taught me to embrace my journey.