I joined Friends in Training in August 2006 at the request of a friend who thought it would be a great idea to train for a half marathon. I surprised myself when (without hesitation), responded to the request with a nonchalant, “Sure”. Those who know me are well aware that when it comes to physical activity, I excel in power napping and channel surfing marathons! I’m not sure I would have been so keen on the idea of running, had it not been for the fact that I was doing it with a friend and we’d support and motivate each other through the process. I was about 45 lbs overweight and I saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself physically and get in shape.
Prior to my first run with F.I.T., my friend and I had already been running to prepare ourselves for the journey we were about to take. On my first run with F.I.T., I remember feeling a little scared and anxious because I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. All of those feelings subsided once we were organized into your pace groups and the coaches provided valuable tips and information that would ensure that we’d have a successful run from that day forward. In addition to the educational aspect of joining, there was a strong social component as well. As we embarked on our runs, I developed new friendships and learned a lot about different people and the experiences that brought them to join F.I.T. and adopt running into their lives.
With the help of F.I.T., I managed to complete my first half marathon in December 2006, at the Marathon of the Palm Beaches. It was tough! Those friendships I made between August and December came in handy when we pulled each other across the finish line with motivation and determination. In January 2007, I completed my first marathon at Disney World. I felt so accomplished. It was a wonderful feeling and I owed all if it to the support that I received from my friends and from the wonderful coaches. Since then, I’ve completed two additional half marathons.
It wasn’t always this easy, however. I joined F.I.T again in 2007, but after reaching 6 miles, I began to experience extreme hip pain. My weekly runs dwindled to nothing and I gained more weight due to my lack of physical activity. Additionally, I was struggling with an illness that has affected my life since I was a teenager. This illness was depression. It took all of my energy and left me lifeless on the weekends, choosing to sleep excessively. My outlook on life was negative and running didn’t seem to matter. Every now and then, the new friends I had made would ask me when I would be return to the group runs and encourage me to join the group for a run or walk. I never made it out. When the next season started, I joined again so I could run a half marathon in my hometown. I was still inconsistent with my runs and experiencing hip pain. I managed to complete the race, but after that, I stopped running.
Fast forward to the end of 2008 and the moment when I discovered a moment of clarity and empowerment. I identified my needs and prioritized my life. In December of 2008, I began my weight loss journey and have managed to lose 45lbs. I began running again in February and joined F.I.T. again this past April. As far as my depression, I’m essentially 90% symptom free and no longer reliant on medications to keep my energy and moods stable. I can now truly enjoy running and have more confidence in my physical abilities and myself. For this next year, I have plans to run the San Jose Rock and Roll Marathon in San Jose, California (this is my hometown), the 13.1 Fort Lauderdale, WPB Half and another half marathon and a full marathon in early 2010.
It’s been a long and difficult journey towards the happiness that I am experiencing and I only see bright things for the future ahead of me. The support and inspiration of EVERYONE whom I’ve met since joining Friends in Training has changed my life in ways that I cannot quantify. Thank you Friends in Training!