Over ten years ago, as I approached 30, I pledged to enter a new decade thinner than I currently was. I had spent my 20s, working, traveling, going out to eat and drink, like many of my contemporaries. While I had been jogging on and off for several years already, I decided to increase my mileage and use jogging to prevent the weight gain that people told me my 30s would inevitably bring.
I started small, and, as the years passed, I began to enter longer and longer races. I ran several half marathons and even finished one marathon, but I still considered myself a jogger or, more accurately, a plodder. If I set my goal on the finish line, I would get there, albeit very, very slowly.
At some point, I must have separated commitment from speed, and I began to call myself a runner. The label actually helped define me and became more important as my responsibilities grew. Post-marriage and motherhood, running became a part of my bones, muscles, and sinew. Running held me together on the days I was falling apart.
I had become a runner. Days were better if they started with a pre-dawn run. Cold, heat, rain, and even snow did not stop me. I was committed.
Runs are not always easy or scenic, and so runners are tough. Runners are strong. They set their sights on a goal. Some runs, they crush their PRs. Other times, they are just grateful to finish. Either way, flying or crawling, the end goal is the same: cross the finish line, and so runners are tenacious and resilient. I was a runner.
There is something about the mundane task of pounding the pavement that helps me both to escape my life temporarily and to gain insight about it. I envision the therapeutic appeal of running, the way running dulls the edges of my raw emotions but gives me clarity, to the creation of sea glass, the rhythmic pounding of the ocean turning jagged sharp edges into an object of beauty.
I used to enjoy running alone, but as I grew older, I started to enjoy running with a partner as well. Sometimes being less in your head is better, especially when your head and heart are filled with hopes and dreams for a happy, fulfilled marriage and a calm, safe family life and the reality is the antithesis: an ugly, dark, chaotic place.
But still I approached my marriage, the way any runner would. I set my sights on a goal: keeping my marriage together. I was strong. I held on tight. I was determined to make it work despite all odds, namely my husband. I was tenacious, and I refused to admit defeat, though most of the time I was barely capable of crawling. I continued to hope and pray for my marriage to work. I cried and begged my husband to change for our children and me. It was an exhausting course, physically and mentally, but I persevered. It took a toll on me. I began to feel lost and disoriented. I was not the me I wanted to be.
It was on a run with a friend, a month after my 40th birthday, that I realized my marriage was hopeless. My husband was incapable of change. I had done something I did not know was possible, I had outrun hope.
As I said the words aloud, I felt lighter. I started to feel less fettered by the heartbreak, heartache, and disappointments that had become the norm. I was not yet 1000 pounds lighter, but I was on my way.
Six months later, I filed for divorce.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”-Semisonic