This morning I had the pleasure of being tagged in a Facebook “Note” written by a former Step Into Runner and friend, Mavreen Rose. Her thoughts about running moved me and I asked her if I could share them here. We all run for different reasons, at different paces, and with varying levels of how we’d individually define “success.” We have either struggled or know someone who has struggled with body image issues. Mavreen’s words and her wisdom are truly an inspiration. Enjoy!
I think I have always been genetically predisposed to run. I have really muscular calves. (Thanks Lola Terry. Thanks Pops!). Now, I never took great pride in them until lately.
In elementary school and high school, my calves were a source of great insecurity for me. Let me now say this, high school boys can be cruel. I remember vividly how a bunch of 2nd year boys would loiter by the stairs looking at girls’ legs and I overheard this particular group talking about my muscular calves. Now for a freshman, this was particularly distressing. I put on a brave face and ignored it but I can never forget the fact that my calves were a topic of conversation.
Despite being a source of insecurity, my legs (calves, included) helped me with my gymnastics. My coach Joven Cablas would tell me I had great legs. “Great” – I think he meant – that my legs could take me to the nationals.. And they did.. and even won me a silver medal.
Yet, for all the “nice things” my legs brought me, I was always insecure about them. I remember freshman year in college, the girls in Silliman University were required to wear — of all things — bloomers. I would run as fast as I can from my dorm to the field and back again so I can spend as little time in public wearing those despicable excuse for shorts. I think I left an impression on my classmates when I would remove my shorts underwater rather than before going into the water for our swimming classes. I was THAT insecure.
For the longest time, I think I avoided wearing shorts, skirts or any piece of clothing that would bare my legs. But these days, I now wear a lot of running shorts.
Because I rediscovered a love for running.
I think I have always loved to run. In USC, I was almost always rushing from one place to the other. However, I was told it was “unladylike” to run. So I stopped. I now regret listening to that advice — because I would realize later on that once our bodies get used to inactivity, it will remain at rest. (Newton’s law, right? LOL)
I would run here and there but never really made it a habit. This is now an absolutely horrific memory but in TAMU, in the first not-so-fun run I ever joined, I only bested 2 pregnant women and a woman with her baby in a stroller. If that’s not embarrassing, I do not know what is. Those women were running for 2. I wasn’t.
In 2012, I hit a really low point in my life. I was depressed. I hit rock bottom. My self esteem was zilch. I was overweight. I was ugly. Everything in my life was falling apart. I can hardly recognize myself in the mirror. And now, I wish to confess that I had thought of ending it all. But as I was too cowardly (or maybe brave), I sought help. I went to the doctor. I went to group therapy. I sought counselling. I eventually went home.. to heal myself. And I decided I needed to make changes.
When I went back to Texas, I knew I needed to fix my health issues. I started with the small things. I decided to eat healthy. I started to avoid all meat and I started cooking all my meals. I would portion them and made sure I only ate within my caloric allowance. I went to the gym. I tried the treadmill. Running on the treadmill, I would get bored and would focus on the time or distance and when I get tired I just hit that STOP button and workout is over. So one day I decided I was going to run outdoors. Running outdoors forces you to run till a certain point then run back to where you started.
Now, at this point, I was really horrifically unfit. I was slow. So I decided I was just going to do timed runs. I got a Couch to 5K app. My first run consisted of a 20 minute run/walk combination. I hated every second of it. I can barely breathe. But I finished it and that gave me a bit of confidence to do it again. So I did.
Eventually, I was running 30 minutes a day, then 45 minutes.. I got better at it and I would run a minimum of 3 miles on average every day during the work week. I would then run 6 miles on average on Saturdays and/or Sundays. I wasn’t fast or anything. I just kept at it.
I would eventually move to Flagstaff and I thought I can run as easily as I was able to in Texas. Wrong! At 7500 ft above sea level, I was back to square one. The first time I ran in Flagstaff, I once again felt like my heart was in my throat and that I can hardly breathe at all. I only ran 1 mile that day. Now this put me off from running for a while. I was severely discouraged.
Life then happened, but I was happy. I was happy with my job, with my coworkers, with my students. I felt appreciated and I regained my self confidence. I was happy once again after a very long time. And winter hit.
Now, I can run okay in Texas winters but Flagstaff is a different story. So I took a break.. a really long break.
Let me just say that when summer came, I took out my running shoes again.. and once again went back to square one. I started again. Eventually, in the Fall, I kept running because I had coworkers who were patient with me. Anna Hager, Gered Ryan and Marci Wills would easily chat while running while I struggled to keep up. Yet they were always patient with me.
I would then join Team Run Flagstaff’s Step Into Running Program. Anna invited Kate Stogsdill and I to join. I met some wonderful people there. I felt comfortable running with people from different walks of life and different stages of fitness. I was very impressed and a little bit intimidated at the marathon runners. They were very inspiring.(Stephanie Gray Edgerton, you are still an inspiration!) I put in the work and I was happy to have survived a 5k at 7500 ft above sea level. I didn’t care much for my time but I thought I finished strong.
Running in Flagstaff was easy logistically. I miss that about the city I lived in for two years. I can just walk out my apartment and explore some urban trails. I am sad I didn’t run more when I lived there.
These days, I am trying to train for a 10K. Someday, I hope to run a marathon (like you Elisha Jayme and Fritz Espinosa!).My dad has been helping me out and this has been a great way to spend time with him. He used to run marathons.
I appreciate my dad’s great intentions yet there are certain challenges that running in my hometown brings : numerous cars that seem intent to end my life and numerous dogs that seem intent to make me their dog treat. Yet there are prime spots too – like Capitol Lagoon, the Esplanade or the sports complex (when I go to Iloilo) and well, the road in DSB! Lately, I have discovered that running from my house to The District is about a 5K distance.
Now, I still have to answer, WHY DO I RUN?
I run to exercise and feel healthy and strong. I run to enjoy my running music. I run so I can make full use of expensive running gear (On a teacher’s salary – running clothes and shoes are pricy!).
I run to exorcise all my demons. I run to find peace.
I run to talk to friends (Stephanie Skiles, I will always remember you trying to pace me! Annache Hagood, running on that particularly cold winter day was definitely NOT a good idea. LOL).
I run so I don’t have to talk.
I run to think. I run to stop thinking.
I run so I can forgive others. I run so I can forgive myself.
I run to run away from all the stresses that plague me.
I run to fight with my enemies in my head (I sometimes imagine myself as Manny Pacquiao).
I run when I have things weighing me down.
I run when I need to make a decision. I may not always get an answer but I always feel much better after a good run.
HOW DO I RUN?
I try to run in good form – sometimes even trying to run the way my cousin Reggie Tuvilla taught me.
I run till the only thing I can focus on is taking my next breath and putting one foot in front of the other. I wonder if my eyes sweat as well or I am actually crying. But I run till all my sadness, all my heartbreak, all my frustrations, all my desperations, all my anger go away..
I run until I feel myself becoming whole again.
I run like it is a form of meditation or prayer.
I run despite my whole body rebelling until it feels right.
I run in order to be happy.
I run so I can live.
These days, I am really proud of my calves.
Because they are strong. Quite strong that even after the killer workout I was subjected to by my friend Miko Castillo when I was a guest at his gym, I hardly felt any soreness.
Because I am vain. I get compliments of how muscular they are.
But most of all because I have always had them and they are strong and they are mine and they take me places.
Maybe it isn’t even too far fetched to say that my calves saved my life.
And to celebrate them, here’s a photo of me running away from my insecurities and running towards my happiness.
Photo by: Babelyn Cabalar
If you run, WHY and HOW do you do it?