4:45 a.m. is a very dark and quiet hour. My feet clamor out of bed and I head to the kitchen and fill a water bottle to the brim. I do my best to force eight ounces of water down my throat before getting dressed in gym clothes that I set out the night before. I look at the clock and see that I have 20 minutes to get to my destination. As I get in my car and drive, I think about all the steps that I have had to take to get me to the present moment.
Since when did I get up at 4:45 a.m.? When did I become a morning person? And how the hell did I decide to start running at the age of 44? That’s where the story really gets interesting.
It was nine chapters (nine years) ago in my book of life and I was very sick. No longer satisfied with my quality of life, I made some big changes. As I started the process of healing, I began to have a vision that one day I would be running races. The vision was so distinct that I actually saw it happening in my mind. That was an impossibility at the time. It was an impossibility all of my life. When I was a little girl I would try to run long distances and I would start to itch. It started as a tingling in my legs and moved up throughout my body which turned into severe itching. I would scratch like all hell to try to get rid of the feeling but always ended up with welts and bruises all over my body. It was not a pretty sight so I didn’t run. In junior high and high school I managed to get out of physical education because of other medical issues. I never learned how to push my body to the limit.
At the age of thirty-six I began walking. Walking was a great start. I learned how to pace myself and keep the itching at a tolerable level without scratching myself silly. I developed muscles that I didn’t know existed. That was the first big accomplishment. The vision of running still seemed like such an insurmountable goal. But I kept on walking and added yoga to my routine. That felt good and replenished my spirit as well. At the age of thirty-seven I began going to the gym and pushed myself to the next level – weightlifting. Boy was that a rush! I loved the feeling of working out but hated the fifteen minutes on the treadmill. It was absolute torture. I would have to run until the tingling started and then walk at a fast pace to contain the discomfort. When I met my soul mate in 2005, the workout routine went out the window!
Several years after a whirlwind romance and life makeover, I found myself missing the workout routine. My body was craving fitness. I was still not keen on the idea of running. As a matter of fact, I hated the thought of running. I gave myself a good pep talk and decided to start walking again. I began to have a few nerve issues in my legs and went to see a chiropractor. As I lay on my back, he held my head in his hands and did a quick jerk to the left and then to the right. I have never heard my spine sound like that. Then he twisted my torso and I heard so much popping that I thought he might have paralyzed me. My husband was present and told me later that he thought it was the wood table that cracked but it was my spine! Something magical happened in that moment that I cannot explain. I immediately felt better and had an urge to run. That feeling was so foreign to me that I wondered where the thought was coming from. I began a walking/running interval training that week. The itching was gone, almost as if it had never existed. I kept thinking in the back of my mind that every time I pushed my body, the itching was soon to follow. But it never came.
The vision is ever-present in my mind and I know that I will get to the point of running races. Right now I am thankful that I have good health. I’m ecstatic that I can run. It is simply beyond my comprehension that I have the drive to get up at 4:45 in the morning and exercise. What’s driving me? I do know that it is not me. It is a divine power that whispers in my ear and says, “Get up and take care of this amazing receptacle that you call a body. It is your temple and it has to last you a lifetime. You’ve been given a gift of good health in your next forty years. Use it wisely.”