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Why I Run: Kim O’Leary

by jen on September 20, 2012 · 1 comment

in Why I Run

Why I Run – by Kim O’Leary

I started running 18 months ago after giving birth to my second (and last) child.  The reasons were unremarkable: I wanted to reclaim my body and carve out a little “me” time.  Running was the cheapest, most accessible, and most effective form of exercise available to me – so I decided to give it a shot.


Never one to indulge in heavy exercise – years ago I had a brief love affair with a Nordic Track, and enjoyed leisurely walks and easy hikes with my family – I instantly found running to be humbling as hell!  My first “run” was a 10 minute walk punctuated by bursts of sweaty, panting jogging – and a horrible, lingering stitch in my side.  Thinking of my sister and husband – both effortless, graceful runners – made me want to give up that day. 

 But, I didn’t. 

 All through last spring and summer, I kept at it.  As soon as I was able to cover that 10 minute route without stopping to walk, I pushed myself further.  At the urging of a friend, I signed up for a 5K race in the fall.  As I pulled into the parking lot and observed the lithe, fit forms of the runners all around me, I experienced a moment of panic and turning to my husband said, “No way I can do this – look at all those REAL runners!”  He brushed off my self-critique and I took a deep breath.  And, I ran.  I finished the whole 3.1 miles without stopping, and – gasp – I felt like I could have kept going at the end! 

Something clicked in me that day.  My hate-hate relationship with running turned into a love-hate relationship. Yes, I still found running to be hard, sometimes painful work.  But I was getting something out of it – my body had bounced back from pregnancy in a way that I could live with, I got some relief from my kids, husband, career and the general free-floating sense of anxiety that fills my days, and I felt like I was accomplishing something.  I don’t always want to drag myself out of bed or off the couch – but I have never, ever regretted getting out for a run. 

I kept up my running through the long, lonely winter (thanks to Yak Trax!), participated as part of a relay team for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon this spring, and this summer ran my first 10K race with my sister (the “real” runner in the family).  I try to get out for runs about three days a week.  I’m flirting with the idea of doing a half marathon next year, and maybe, somewhere in the distance – a full marathon.  What an achievement that would be! 

I think when I love running the most – what keeps me running – is that moment which comes at some point in every run where I step outside myself.  I listen to my feet pounding the pavement, hear my steady breath, feel my muscles burning – and think with gratitude: “I’m here.  I’m really doing this.”  And I’m going to keep doing it, for as long as my body allows me to do so.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Brian October 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

Enjoyed reading your story. You can do a half marathon!

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