Good morning, everyone! I told you I have some awesome guest posts lined up for this week, and I will not disappoint. I am so excited to introduce you to Caitlin, in case you haven’t found her blog yet (which, if you haven’t, add it now!). I love this girl, and love that she is also from Pittsburgh! Hope you enjoy her story like I did!
Hey kids! My name is Caitlin, and I blog over at Chasing Chels, where you’ll find lots of stuff about running, food, the occasional recipe, Pittsburgh, and plenty of randomness and stories from my everyday life. Stop by when you get a chance 🙂 I was absolutely thrilled when Heather asked me to do a guest post in her neck of the woods; I love this girl to pieces, always look forward to her daily posts, and do the workouts she posts on a regular basis (girl knows her stuff!). I hope you are having the most fun and relaxing vacation imaginable, love! I can’t wait to hear all about it when you get home
Look! It’s Heather 😀 We were lucky enough to meet up in May for coffee and over two hours of girl talk! Must happen again soon 🙂
If you had met me three years ago, you would have met a completely different person. Newly graduated from college, I was living on my own in Pittsburgh, working as a preschool teacher a few blocks from my apartment. I was pretty happy but very, very safe. The eating disorder that had rocked and consumed my world two years earlier was fairly well under control, but there were plenty of lingering side effects that I clung to with everything I had. I had a very strict diet (eating enough to keep me in recovery but nothing “fun” or challenging), worked hard both at my job and in the babysitting gigs I picked up after work to make some extra money, and mostly kept to myself when I wasn’t working. Sure, I had friends, and I even went out every now and then, but for the most part, I hung out by myself or with my family. Nothing wrong with that, I know…but something wasn’t completely right either. I wasn’t really living; I was existing in the safe little bubble I created for myself, and I wasn’t doing anything to change that. Then, within the span of three months, two things happened that completely changed my life for the better: I met my boyfriend, Joe, and he introduced me to running.
Two years and many runs later
When Joe and I met, he was an infantryman in the U.S. Army. He had to run every day for PT, and anytime he came home for a visit (he was stationed in Tennessee/Kentucky), he would drag me out to go on a run with him. You know how in the beginning of any relationship you want to play it cool and pretend like you can do anything? Yeah, that was me with running; did I mention that I absolutely loathed it at the time? True story. Not wanting to look like a completely out-of-shape idiot in front of my new man, however, I decided that I needed to start running on my own when he wasn’t home, so that I could keep up and not want to die anytime we went out (and if I ended up looking like one of those cool running chicks I always saw out in my neighborhood, so be it). I won’t lie….those first few months of running were hard. Harder than anything I had done post ED recovery (and that’s coming from a former figure skater, who regularly got chased around the rink by her coaches with the rest of her skating friends for 5-10 minutes of flat out speed skating for “conditioning purposes”), but there was something about running from that first solo mile (yes, that was all I could do the first time I went out on my own) that brought me back for more. I upped my mileage slowly, bought my first pair of running shoes, and discovered blogs that were focused on running so that I could get tips and gain inspiration from people who loved running like I was growing to. Each time I made it a little bit further or came back from an old route a tad quicker, I was elated and, dare I say it, a little proud. Anything that can make me feel proud about myself is a keeper in my book, so I wanted to keep going.
First race. Looked like a drowned cat and incredibly cold but felt on top of the world so perfectly ok with that.
And keep going I did. I got the courage to run my first race last September (the 10K Great Race in Pittsburgh) and will never ever forget it. Feeding off of the pre-race excitement from my fellow runners, listening to the cheers from the crowd that lined the entire course, and crossing the finish line to the shouts of joy from my family at a time of 46:40, I was absolutely elated with the biggest running high I had yet experienced. I finally felt like I had found my niche, something I had been seeking outside of school for years. I also caught the racing bug. I signed up for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon the following Tuesday (which wouldn’t be held until May of this year) and talked Joe into doing a 10K in October, since I clearly needed to do something before then (fun fact: when I fall in love with something, I fall hard and fast). At the time of those 10Ks, a half marathon seemed almost impossible to me; I had never run more than 7 miles, so 13.1 seemed like the longest distance known to man (and I swore I would never do a full marathon)…but for the first time ever, I had some confidence in myself. I had a feeling that as long as I followed the training I made for myself, I would be able to finish the race. And finish the race I did. Since last October (and the beginning of 2013), I have run three half marathons, subbed 1:50 in each, placed 2nd overall female in my last, and signed up for a full marathon in September (I should know by now to never say never). Oh, and I have 10k in September and a 10 miler in November, with my eye on another half marathon in October and some other 5Ks and 10Ks in between. Like I said, when I fall for something, it’s hard and fast…and I don’t look back.
Crossing the finish line of my latest half marathon a few weeks ago. Slowest time to date but felt awesome and finished 2nd overall female. I’ll take it 😉
Running brought me back to life. It’s taught me how love myself, have pride in myself, and that I am so much stronger and more capable than I ever imagined. It makes me happy (most of the time…I’ll never pretend that I love every run I go on…that would be a lie…some are just plain hard and sucky) and thankful for the body that I have which allows me to go out on a regular basis and run as far and fast as I want. It’s also taught me how to treat my body well, which was something I didn’t do for years; I can’t go out and do what I want to do unless I eat well, rest up, and take of myself. And I would never have found one of the biggest passions and saving graces in my life if I hadn’t had the courage to try (and desire to not look like an idiot in front of a boy…there’s no denying that one…and he rues the day he made me hit the road with him every time he’s up at 5:3o on a weekend morning driving me to another race 😉 ). I told myself for years that running was too hard, and I couldn’t do it; guess what? I was wrong. I can and I do.
My support team (read: parental unit and Joe). They never miss a race, and I wouldn’t know what to do if they did.
What about you? What do you tell yourself you can’t do? Run? Sing? Dance? Draw? Cook? Start a business? What is it? Now think about this: why do you do that? Why do you tell yourself no? Every time you tell yourself “No, I could never do that,” you’re selling yourself short…and you don’t deserve that. No one deserves to sit quietly in life, watching things pass them by. Take it from someone who did that for far too long, it’s not worth it. Life is meant to be lived, mistakes are meant to be made, and learning is meant to take place. I have truly come to believe that it’s better to try and fail then to never try at all. It’s difficult and scary and might not always work out, but you know what? It just might work…you just might be able to do it….you might even be able to rock it…and you’ll never know unless you take that first step. Take it…and see what you find. No matter what happens, you’ll learn something new in life…and you just might find a new piece of you along the way.
Have a wonderful day!