Smoke after stretching for optimum results

Running this week on the treadmill, I got the pleasure of dusting off my old iTunes account, which is like opening a musical time capsule from 2007.

This got me thinking about what brought me to running in the first place. In 2007, I was freshly dumped, had a house I couldn’t afford, and I was a smoker. I remember having $5.25 in my checking account and trying to decide if I was going to buy a pack of cigarettes or gas. Addiction is that strong, people.

Wrestling with that decision made me realize it was probably time to quit smoking and get healthy. I bought my first pair of gray and pink Nikes, laced them up, and went for a run down the street. I felt my lungs starting to burn about two blocks from my house. I ran for a little bit longer and walked back. The only way I knew how to track my mileage was to hop in my car and drive along my route. I was really pumped to see how far I had gone. I had run .63 miles and I was wiped. What the fuck was I doing?

I still couldn’t quit smoking, but I decided to register for my first 5k in 2007, which meant training for my first race. I remember getting done with a run and standing outside my house smoking a cigarette while I stretched out. It was my “reward” for doing something healthy. The race itself was difficult and challenging. I remember just wanting it to be over. I felt like a fraud being there. Like I wasn’t a real athlete because I had tar covered secret in my chest.

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First race photo, 2007

My relationship with smoking continued on and off after this point, but I continued pressing forward with goals. I completed more races and even a handful of triathlons. The thing that whispered in my ear, “you’re a fraud and you don’t belong here,” started to soften. I eventually opened my eyes to see I was much like the other men and women lining up with me–scared, nervous energy, excited, and deciding whether or not we have time to run to the bathroom again.

Whether it’s a broken promise to quit smoking or working off 60 pounds of pregnancy weight, we are all here  remembering the reasons that brought us to the race in the first place.

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I think this is Copper Creek Triathlon. Unsure of the year, but definitely prebaby body.

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