Back in July when I was lying on my back, Allen would encourage me saying, ‘Just think Mary Beth, once you get your Pectus fixed, you’ll be able to run faster than you ever have in your whole life’. I held a reserved hope that maybe he was right. When my first 5km run post-surgery was only off my record for that speed by 7 seconds I could hardly believe it. I decided that as soon as I actually broke a record I’d write a blog about it. It took longer than I thought it would, but today I smashed my 3km record by 23 seconds! Yeah, I know I’m bragging, but this is one of the most encouraging things that has happened to me in my life.
Our bodies change as we get older, in a bad way, and when I reached my mid-30’s I noticed I was having more trouble keeping my weight under control and my back was beginning to ache, a lot. I’ve always tried to keep active in some way, thinking ‘When I’m an old woman, I want to still be able get out and walk’. So instead of sitting back and accepting my fate, and inspired by the 2016 Olympics, our annual mission ‘Race to the Rocks’, and a few past room-mates, I decided to change my diet (more veggies, less bread ) and start running.
I’ve never been a runner and I felt like I looked incredibly dumb when I did, not like most lithe and athletic people I see running down the side of the road but more like a lumbering ox. I figured I was old enough not to care. It was also excruciatingly hard. Often, I’d count my breaths as encouragement to keep going… 1,2,5,3… I would get mixed up because it was hard to focus.
Contrary to what I had previously thought, I’ve discovered that most people don’t run for the health benefits or even to have great looking bodies. Most people who run, run because they actually enjoy it! (except for doctors and nurses- lots of them do it for the health benefits). And runners are excited about anyone who wants to join the club, fast or slow. It’s not a competition at all. That was a myth buster for me!
After 4 years of running a few times a week I didn’t have to count for encouragement anymore, and could even sometimes follow a conversation while running! But I was discouraged because I still couldn’t keep up with anyone unless they slowed down for me ( l looked back at my times today and realized I had actually been getting slower instead of faster despite my consistent training). Mia and Allen were great! They were always willing to join me, even on days I couldn’t listen or talk to them. One in three runs usually ended in an ‘asthma/panic attack’… or as we know now, heart stress.
It was such a relief to find out that there really was something wrong with me and now, months after surgery to rejoice that the problem has been fixed! Allen says that someday he’ll have to ride a bicycle alongside me as I run just to keep up. We’ll see…