A reformed couch potato, I started to run in my 40s, thanks to a walk to run clinic offered by a supportive group of women in the Pioneer Valley Women’s Running Club.
It changed my life. I was moving. Running. Taking a walk. Going for a bike ride.
Sweating with my running buddies is different than sweating by myself. We talk and laugh and cry and laugh and talk some more – while getting in our miles. The lame birthday gift from a husband. The grief from the loss of a loved one. The challenging behavior of a teenager. And yes, the shock and fear surrounding a medical diagnosis. Nothing is off limits. And nothing is shared with others outside the group.
A few months before I turned 50, my friend Donna said, “When I turned 50, I did my first tri. We’ll train together. It will be fun.”
The training and race conditions challenged me. I was not a strong swimmer. I couldn’t figure out how to breathe without getting a nose full of water. My strokes were jerky. I was slow. But I kept at it.
That first race included a half mile swim, a 12-mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. I got kicked during the swim, had a flat tire during the bike portion, and discovered that “a nice flat run” obviously meant something different to the race organizers. But I finished. And I have finished lots of races since.
Hanging out with people who challenge each other brought out the athlete in me. It’s brought out the badass in me. I’ve swam a half-mile across the pond. And back. I’ve biked 30-milers and know why Hoo Ha Ride Glide is a critical training tool. I’ve run 10-mile training runs and hid water bottles in the bushes to retrieve along the way. I knew chemotherapy would be a difficult challenge. It was. I’ve dealt with difficult. I’ve overcome challenges. I’m a cancer survivor now and living my very best life.