Recently, a follower asked me, what happened during the gap? Before you started this healthier lifestyle?
So far, I have focused on the journey I began 18 months ago. I’ve discussed changes I have made by adding an exercise routine and changing my diet which have resulted in weight loss. However, I haven’t really touched on what my story was before pushing play and hitting the pavement once again. Before I try to explain my 15 year gap, I feel like I need to start at the beginning.
One warm summer day in the early 90s, my family asked if I wanted to join my older cousin at her cross country practice. Honestly, I had no idea what cross country was other than running but I was definitely interested in going. Although she went to a different school, her coach allowed me to attend and join her team for a run. Her team was very welcoming and I just plodded along listening to their chatter while logging a few miles. I enjoyed the run and attended a few more practices before the school year began.
At this point, I was entering junior high and unfortunately my school did not have a junior high girls cross country team. However, this did not stop my family from chatting with the coach and finding out how I could get involved with forming a team. Luckily, in junior high, most meets were co-ed so we were able to create a team even though we only had one other female.
My passion for running increased and along with loving the freedom it provided, I greatly enjoyed the camaraderie while running with my teammates. My coach and I had a great connection; I trusted his methods and together we were rewarded with much success. Our cross country and track & field teams grew (in numbers and in talent) and garnered many district titles. After six years and hundreds of miles, I reached my ultimate goal – an athletic scholarship to a Division I school!
I packed my bags and headed 3.5 hours away to meet my new teammates at college. While training in high school, I primarily ran with the boys and now I’d have several females as fast, or faster than me, to train with. Feelings ranged from excitement to anxiety as I met my new teammates. Since most of us were from out-of-state, we quickly grew into more than teammates; we became a family.
Being a firstborn, my parents lovingly sheltered me a bit and now I was all on my own. During this time, I enjoyed new experiences and meeting a variety of diverse people. In addition to the good times, I also experienced some negatives – a not-so-ideal coaching staff, pressure of losing my scholarship and after 18 years of marriage, the divorce of my parents. While being 3.5 hours away from home, this life event definitely affected me, but I continued to push through the obstacles. My college family certainly helped me through many tough times (so thankful for all of you).
Over the next few years, running also changed a bit for me. At this point, running was more of a job; something I had to do. It had become more of a chore rather than fun. Unfortunately, I also had to undergo surgery on both of my legs midway through my senior year which affected my last few months of collegiate running.
My nutrition also suffered during college. Like many college kids, my eating was terrible! So many late nights of going to the dining hall to hit up the nacho bar, grabbing a pizza or calling in delivery from the local fast food Chinese dive. I will confess, I definitely joined the club of gaining at least 15 lbs. during college.
Graduation was here before I knew it, and like many college kids, my next step was up in the air. With no set plan or job offer, I headed back home. Back to Pennsylvania where we have such good food at our fingertips – stromboli, pierogies, Middleswarth chips, delicious Sicilian pizza and some of the best chicken wings. When I was running, I could easily down any of these and not worry about gaining much weight. However, now I wasn’t running and I was enjoying these foods more than I should.
After being on my own for so long, living back at home was a bit difficult and after six months, I was ready to make a change. One evening, I went online and applied to dozens and dozens of positions all over the MD/DC/VA region. Eventually, I was called in for an interview for a job in my field in VA. Two months after my job search, I was headed back down to the DC Metro area.
And so begins the next part of my story….
Until next time,