I’ve been longing for this day for months. I wanted to feel the burn in my lungs and hear my feet as they hit rhythmically on the pavement. I wanted to push myself to go further. I wanted to feel that crazy burst of energy that only follows a good cardio workout.
I had literally been dreaming of my return to running.
Well, maybe we should call what I do jogging. OK. OK. It’s really what I’ve dubbed the “fat person shuffle.”
You can laugh all you want, but I’m moving and attempting to run. I’m already miles ahead of those of you reading this at the breakfast table with a pastry in front of you. Or if you’re like me, playing online on your laptop while you’re curled up on the couch in your PJs.
After a lifetime of hating any movement above a brisk walk, I realized last year that I actually loved running. My first attempt was July 5, 2010. I progressed slowly, but by December I was up to a little more than two miles in 25 minutes. I knew I was doing something good for myself the first time I could walk up the steps from Dalton High School’s track without being winded.
Then my life changed.
I started slowing down. I couldn’t make it as far. Running was making me sick. I only had to wonder what was wrong for about a week because I soon found out I was pregnant. A week later I miscarried. I was put on bed rest, and it was a few weeks before I could return to running.
I began running again in January. I quickly progressed. I was soon running 30 minutes without stopping. I was on my way to three miles. I was feeling great.
I swore to people I was the fattest person alive that could run that long without walking.
But it didn’t last. In February I found out I was pregnant again. My doctor told me there was no reason to stop running just because I was pregnant. He said it was completely safe to continue. So I did.
Again, I found myself slowing down. I was lucky to make it a mile and a half thanks to the constant fatigue and nausea. I began to feel like a failure. I would come in from a run crying. (Oh how I loathe pregnancy hormones!)
My husband tried to reassure me it was only because of the pregnancy, not to beat myself up. It didn’t do any good. I began to dread running, and I knew that meant it was time for me to stop. I was about nine weeks pregnant.
I admire women who can continue running throughout their pregnancy. It was all I could do to push myself to finish my 12-hour shift at work.
I walked as much as possible. But when you’re eight months pregnant in August in Georgia, even walking becomes a challenge. I was winded walking from my car to the building and up the steps to the newsroom. I had to pause to catch my breath, just hoping no one walked around the corner to see me bent over panting like I’d just run a marathon.
I was ready for my pregnancy to be over and to begin running again. I missed the way I felt when I ran. And pregnancy was miserable. (I’m not sure about these women who claim they love pregnancy.)
I had Sophie on Oct. 25. My doctor cleared me to begin running again the first week of December. I had plans to start running again on Jan. 2, but I couldn’t wait that long.
So three days before Christmas I took my running shoes back out of their box and slipped them on. I pulled out my running clothes and doubled up on the support up top. (Very important to any of you who are breastfeeding!) I put my two poor attention-deprived dogs on their leashes and headed out the door. (Don’t worry. Someone was watching the baby for me so I could have a few minutes to myself).
It was a struggle. I learned long ago the key to being successful in your running is to set realistic goals. I decided to walk five minutes, then jog two/walk two for 20 minutes, and then have a five minute cooldown walk.
I did it. I was dragging the last two blocks back to my house. But I did it.
I feel fantastic.
To any of you in my neighborhood who saw me, I’m sure it was amusing to see a new mom doing the fat person shuffle, juggling two dogs — one that wanted to go faster and another who wanted to go slower.
But just wait and see. If you think you were laughing today, wait until I throw the baby in the jogging stroller into the mix.
Misty Watson is a photographer and reporter for The Daily Citizen. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.