I was never a runner. I started ballet at a very young age, and eventually moved away from home to go to ballet school. I loved ballet growing up. It was who I was. As a result, I was never into sports and wouldn't have considered myself an athlete.
As the years went on, I eventually decided to pursue ballet schools in the United States. In the summer before grade 10, I began studying in Pittsburgh. However, instead of fuelling my passion, I ended up growing a part from ballet. While I was good enough to continue (I had been accepted and given a scholarship to attend full-time), I knew that in the long-term, ballet wasn't for me.
I moved back home and began life beyond dance. I really struggled to define myself outside of ballet. After doing something so seriously for so many years, it's hard find your next thing. I battled with weight gain and feelings of overwhelming blah. I tried many things, but nothing ever ignited the same passion in me that ballet once did.
By the time I got to university, my Mom convinced me to try running. It was her thing and she knew what running could do for me. I hated running at first. I felt totally outside of my comfort zone. I remember registering for a run clinic at the local running store (we were training for our first half marathon at the time - the Walt Disney World Half Marathon). The idea of running more than 5 kilometres seemed impossible. My training in my early running years was lacklustre, to say the least. I barely ran more than 16km before that first half marathon. However, I crossed the finish line (in 2:45).
With time, and constant encouragement (and enticing race registrations, including the New York City Marathon) from my Mom, a powerful thing was ignited. I started to see myself as runner.
I look back on my journey now and smile. Running has given me more than I could ever imagine. Now, after completing 12 marathons (and nearly two hours off my first marathon time), I can say that your life is entirely up to you. If you had told me back in university that I would now be training for a 3:45 marathon, I would have laughed. Lots of thing seemed impossible at that time.
Running has changed my life for the better. Running makes me strong mentally and physically. It's given me abundant joy, grit, and determination that has carried over into ALL areas of my life. I AM A RUNNER.