This is me on May 21, 2004, the day I graduated from college.
On the outside, I was a happy, fun-loving engineering graduate ready to get out there and conquer the world! On the inside, I was unhealthy and horrified with what I saw every time I looked in the mirror.
When I was in college, I took between 18 and 21 hours every semester, worked a full-time job, AND worked another part-time job on campus. Needless to say, I was very busy and eating right, getting exercise, and getting enough sleep were definitely NOT high on my priority list. I was doing good just to get homework done, study for tests, and make it to class and both of my jobs showered and with matching clothes. Papa John’s and Doritos seemed like such better “late-night brain food” than salads and fruit trays. Living a healthy lifestyle wasn’t even on my radar.
After I graduated from college, I moved to South Carolina. Working full-time, I suddenly found all this free time. (You mean that after 5PM I get to just go home and do whatever I want until I go to sleep?? SWEET!) At this point, most people would have taken this opportunity to start an exercise plan, get into a healthy regimen, etc. Nope, not me. I took this opportunity to be a party girl and sow the wild oats that I didn’t have the time to in college. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty.
Over the next couple of years, I fell into a bad relationship that only made my situation worse. I often found myself going out to bars with my friends and drinking my evenings away just to avoid being at home. And, of course, hitting up Jack in the Box on the way home. I call this point in my life “drunkorexic”. I lost a lot of weight, but I was smoking, and drinking, and binge eating. I was in no way healthy and strong. I was unhappy with where I was in life and clubbin’ it up with my friends every night helped me forget that for a while.
In mid-2007, my life changed drastically. I finally got out of this bad relationship and got into a place of my own. All of sudden, I was alone. I hadn’t been truly alone in years. It finally forced me to take a look at my life. I realized that if I wanted things to change, I was going to have to make it happen! Being an avid supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, I was always involved with Race for the Cure and Breast Cancer 3-Day events. I had always envied the people who could knock out this 5k with ease, so I decided that’s where I would start. I was going to be a runner. At this point, saying that in my head still made me chuckle.
Around this same time, my company was getting together a group of runners to compete in a year-long corporate running competition in the city I lived in. I immediately signed up to be the group Captain. I have always been good at motivating others and what better way to be held accountable! We got points for every team member that showed up to a race and even more points if a team member placed in his/her age group!
Having no direction, having never heard of Jeff Galloway or Hal Higdon, and having no friends that were into running, I just started hitting the treadmill. This running thing was hard, y’all! But, I persisted and before long, my walk/jogs turned into jog/runs! Signing up for the occasional 5k kept me interested in the sport and going on my 2 times a week jogs.
Just as quickly as I seemed to find running, I also found the greatest man in the world. He encouraged me in my running efforts from the very beginning and (dangerously) supported my addiction to the sport. Brent really understood me and seemed to appreciate how I was trying to help myself. And he, too, was a runner! Lucky me! He was one amazing guy and I’m so blessed to now call him my husband!
In January 2009, my husband’s friend, Denise, started the Saturday Morning Run Group. We would meet every Saturday morning and run a 4-mile loop around Furman University. A weekly group run sounded like the perfect idea to help continue my motivation and to keep me accountable on a weekly basis. After all, who wants to be the one slowing the whole group down?
About a month in, on maybe our third or fourth week meeting, I woke up one Saturday morning to 17 degree ICY weather. This native Louisiana girl doesn’t do cold weather, and she especially doesn’t do ICY weather. But, I layered up, and dragged my Michelin-man looking body out to Furman University.
I braved the weather because I was a runner! Amazingly, it happened to be the first time EVER that I made it the whole 4-mile loop without stopping. It was incredible…cold, but incredible!
This is where my running addiction really started. This is when I started taking myself and my running more seriously. I started envisioning myself as a runner. I wasn’t just a girl who ran, I was a runner! The more I told this to myself and to others, the more I believed it. I traded in my old generic sports store sneakers for a “real” pair of Sauconys from a running-specfic store. I started reading about the sport. I made more of an effort to get involved with the running community in my town. All of a sudden, this community that I always felt was so elite and athletic and something I would never be, was something I was a part of! Everyone I encountered was so supportive and willing to offer any advice I was willing to accept. They were like “just add water” friends and it was awesome!
In 2009, my 5k time was 37:59. Yes, you read that right. Over the next year, heeding the advice of my new running friends, cross-training, and eating better, I got to a 5k PR of 27:30. In addition, I managed to lose 25 lb and go from a size 10 to a size 4/6. In 2010, I decided to feed my addiction and I quickly moved from 5k’s, to 8k’s, to 10k’s, to half marathons. I still tell people that the 5k was my gateway drug. After all of this, I realized that I had never felt better or happier in my whole life.
Running had become so much more than “just running” for me. To me, running meant making new friends, being active and healthy, being thankful for the beautiful outdoors, and relieving stress in a healthy way. Running now meant being happy…something I hadn’t been in a long time.
In January of 2011, we moved back home to Baton Rouge, LA. While I was excited to be back near my family and friends, I knew I would miss my running friends. I now shared a bond with them that my old friends just didn’t understand. My old friends now saw me as turning into this “crazy running girl” where my running friends didn’t think anything of it because they were “crazy” too.
In February 2011, I conquered my first (of many future) marathons. If you had told college Katie that in a few years, she would be running a marathon, she would have laughed you out the door. But I did it. And if I can do it, you can too. You just have to have the drive and the patience to train. I have learned that at the end of the day, it’s about lacing up your shoes, getting outside, and putting one foot in front of the other. That’s really all there is to it.
Now that we have been living here a few months and I finally feel like I’m getting my groove back. Things are settling in, and I’m gearing up for a great year of running. I have jumped in on a few group runs in town and am starting to meet other like-minded running folks. It’s always nice to know people have got your back when you need that extra little push.
In this blog, I hope to share things I’ve learned from people that run faster than me, things I’ve learned from people that run slower than me, advice that I’ve received or given, tips on my favorite gear (over the last few years, I’ve spent A LOT of money on gear…just ask my husband!), race/route reviews, and all kinds of other running/fitness things! And, now that we have recently found out we are expecting a baby in November of this year, I’m sure there will be some humorous momma-to-be running experiences thrown in the mix as well! I hope you enjoy it!