I met Theresa July 4th of this year. I had that 10k in Hilliard with Jackie and was going for a PR. I just remember being inside the YMCA and noticing this chick staring us down. At the starting line, I noticed she was beside us. I was getting ready to say "HI" when she said to me "Are you under 40?!" At first, I thought she was asking if my goal time was under 40 minutes...I started cracking up in my head thinking about what it would feel like to run that fast! What she was really asking is if I was under 40 years old because she wanted to win her age group!! Ha! We laughed a bit and decided the three of us would help each other out. You can read about our adventure in the link posted above.
Anyway, I have seriously enjoyed this girl ever since I met her. Prior to us meeting, she ran solo. All it took was three group runs for her to ditch the ear buds and join in on the adventure! I'm so blessed to have met Theresa. She exudes such positivity. I can't wait for you guys to read her story! Below is straight from the head of Theresa...no edits. ENJOY!!!
When I look at my life today, it is near picture perfect. Wonderful husband, 4 beautiful children, quaint home in Muirfield Village, good job with cool places to travel, avid runner. Those are surface things. Important, but those aren’t ME. They are “my resume” if you will. The Me today is emotionally healthy (for the most part; at least in comparison to past), physically healthy and spiritually healthy. This story is not about all the turmoil in my life, heck… we all have a past. This story is about running. What it was like in the beginning, the journey and what it is like now. Running is the focus in many ways. It changed my life.
I have always been a perfectionist and an over achiever; maybe it was being an only child with very educated well-off parents who wanted the best for their child. In college I had to triple major (hard majors too). In grad school I wanted to get two masters at the same time. Why? Because people thought I couldn’t do it. “Impossible”. From an early age I was destined to prove people wrong. Out of grad school I had to take that high stress, high pay job (because I was the FIRST to ever get THAT job at THAT age), get married and settle down to have kids. I HAD ARRIVED. Um, no I hadn’t. I was lost. I was insecure. I lived my life trying to prove myself to others, compare to others, want more more MORE and never be satisfied. I was soul sick. I was alone in a room full of people.
This void turned toxic; I tried to fill the void with anything from work to alcohol to then anorexia and bulimia. The only time from ages 25-37 that I can think of that I did not completely abuse my body was during pregnancy; I would go from 120 pounds to 227 and back again; pregnancy was a reprieve from my eating disorders and using alcohol to numb my mind and obsession with control.
Eventually, this void became apparent and at 35, my world shattered. I got a divorce with a 5yo and a 3yo; the youngest still in a diaper. I was already void, but I still had my STATUS. My “hey look at ME status”. I had plenty of money, I had an awesome career! 3 weeks after my divorce was final, I lost my job. My income was gone. POOF. No alimony, no child support, no job, no soul, no husband and no babies 50% of the time. Did this make me change? Hahahaha…. NO. From bad to WORSE. I never ate; I think I ate pickles once a week. I would then feel guilty and not deserving of pickles (PICKLES!) and then make myself throw them up.
FIFTEEN YEARS of my life was a struggle with anorexia, bulimia and drinking too much. I decided enough was enough. I had nothing left to lose…. I’m going to start working out again. I went to the gym, got on the treadmill and ran. I couldn’t run 1/10th of a mile at a 10 minute mile pace. So much for THAT! It pissed me off, so I signed up for the Air Force Marathon in 2013. I started eating a little bit more, purged a little less, COMPLETELY stopped drinking to train and trained 3 days a week; one day 3 miles, another 6 miles and then a long run on the weekend. I think my AirForce Time was 4:25 or something (remember, I get lost and also forget PR times, so don’t hold me to that). The next moth I ran the Columbus… I don’t remember the time, but it was the mid 4’s. I was hooked. I didn’t have fast times because at mile 17 or so, I’d poop out; I remember feeling guilty about ingesting a Goo because it had 100 calories. Gatorade during stops? NO WAY. Useless calories. I was getting better with my issues, but it was a slow process.
After those marathons in the fall of 2013, everything changed. I wish I could tell you what changed… WHY I changed. Was it because I met the man who loved me for me and wanted to marry me and make me a mom of FOUR? Was it because I got a great job again? Was it because I started going to my Catholic Church frequently and prayed HARD for guidance and to let Him show me the proper path in life? I don’t know. Again, this is about RUNNING. Since 2013 I have done 43 races; anything from a 5k to full marathons. Is it an obsession? Mmmmm, maybe. To me, it is living LIFE. It is getting up in the morning full of ENERGY, running my heart out, thanking God the whole time for giving me my body back after over a decade of abuse. After my run, my head is clear. See, running gives me what no human can. It gives me gratitude, humility, sense of power, clarity, serenity, peace, hurt, pain…. EVERY EMOTION that I either ran FROM or TOWARD. It teaches me BALANCE and to REST. I can go to work with a clear head and do my job and do it well. After work I can be a good mom to 4 awesome kids and a good wife to a husband that I adore. And then…. I get up and do it all over again. It taught me to be flexible; it rains sometimes or snows: HAVE A BACKUP PLAN. I travel frequently for work: HAVE A PLAN TO RUN WHEN TRAVELING. Kids get sick: RUN WHEN THEY ARE WITH ANOTHER PARENT AND HEALTH IS STABLE.
How did I improve? FIRST THINGS FIRST: My mind is different. Running is 90 percent mental you know…. If your mind isn’t right, your run won’t be either. Now, I don’t know if running improves your MIND or if your MIND improves your RUNNING. That’s something that just blew my mind while typing. Is it the chicken or the egg???
How I improved running:
- I treat running like a Board Meeting or Important Kid Activity
- There is no excuse not to run unless you or a loved one is sick. Period. Not enough sleep? Get your life balanced. You need to sleep. Learn to ask for HELP (hard for us runner types, isn’t it???? We LOVE to DO IT ALL and then hold all the cards for our employer or family with LOOK AT ALL THAT I DO!!!!).
- Always have another race on the books. I race twice a month on average. Not all marathons obviously, but I love the structure of training for a race. It holds me accountable.
- DO NOT BE JEALOUS. I was HORRIBLE at this. I was jealous of EVERYONE for ANYTHING. I’m not anymore. If someone does well, I talk to them afterwards and ask them how they train and I am HAPPY FOR THEM. This goes back to humility and gratitude. Be grateful you crossed the darn FINISH LINE! Some people are in wheel-chairs for crying out loud.
- I Can’t doesn’t exist in my vocabulary… EVER. I can’t YET does. I can’t run a 3:30 marathon….. YET. I plan to on 11/1, but as of now, I BQ’d at the Pig last May at a 3:42 which is my PR. I can’t run a sub 20 5k YET. I plan to though on 9/5. Two years ago I was THRILLED with a sub 30.
- Be competitive, but with YOU. One of my favorite sayings is this: “I WILL BEAT HER. I will train harder. I will eat cleaner. I know her weaknesses. I know her strengths. I’ve lost to her before, but not this time. She is going DOWN. I have the advantage because I know my opponent well. MY OPPONENT IS THE OLD ME.”
I am not gifted. I have no running talent. What I have is willpower; that same willpower that I used to NOT eat, to be a WORKAHOLIC and lose my family…. That same willpower is there. God just redirected that will to running. Running made me balance LIFE. LIFE. Isn’t that what running is about anyway? LIVING LIFE.