As a young girl and a teenager, athletics wasn’t something that interested me. I played outside with my friends, but it was limited to bike riding and drawing chalk figures on the sidewalk. The opportunity to play organized sports were limitless, but I never signed up for softball, basketball or tennis. In order to earn my physical education credit in high school, I became the tennis manager, organizing tennis matches and scheduling team meets. In two semesters as a tennis manager, I remember using the tennis racket once or twice to balance my books, not to lob tennis balls. In college and graduate school, participating in athletic activities wasn’t a top priority. I was busy reading and writing and studying to earn those paper degrees. I only watched sports on the television, catching football and basketball games on the weekend.

I came to the art of running late. In reality, running wasn’t something I thought I would enjoy. My husband was a cross country runner in high school and encouraged me to run when I complained that I wasn’t losing enough weight on the elliptical and treadmill. When I started running, I couldn’t even run half a mile without losing my breath. The first year I started to run, it was really a fast walk and jog. My run looked like a mall walker. With time, my runs improved, my cardiovascular strength increased and my legs started feeling stronger.

After four years of consistent running, I decided with a friend, that I would try a half-marathon. My goal wasn’t to compete for time or pace, but to finish. Once I crossed the line, I realized even though I was running as an adult, I was also running for the girl who always got picked last for sports in school, the girl who was scared of the volleyball hitting her in the face, and the girl who always had her head in the books.

So 13. 1 means many things to me.  It means I am healthy enough to run. It means I can set a goal and accomplish it. It means being inspired by other runners, especially the one who ran with a leg prothestic.

It means I am alive.

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A special thanks to my husband who encouraged me to believe that I could run even when I didn’t think it was possible. Thanks to Keri, my runner friend in Phoenix and Kristen, my runner friend from Philadelphia. I appreciate all of the words of support and encouragement from family and friends. Thanks so much.

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