You have the strength to do this, and support is out there


Whoa, Nelly! Talk about shock after my last article.

I was approached in the craziest places by people who asked me how I mustered up the courage to write like this, in this style and about the most private parts of my struggle, my journey. It is simple, really. I want to be that hope for just one person, so let’s get real.

It is about finding your strength, the strength you have within yourself that you don’t know you need until it is all you have. I promise you it is there.

It’s cold, minus 4 to be exact, and it is New Year’s Day. Am I really about to do this? Is this really about to be me? For real? You are not a 5K’er, Heather. You are crazy.

I am not sure I can do this. What if I trip and fall? What if I don’t finish? What if it takes me two hours to complete?

As I was tying my shoes, I was mentally preparing myself for the craziest thing yet, but I said I wanted to do one, and by golly, here we go.

It took my car more than 20 minutes to warm up. Think about what this cold is going to do to my body. But whatever I said, I was doing it, and I am doing it.

I arrive and meet my posse, a couple of “ride or die,” if you will, gym gals. Braving this cold starting line with me is Jess and Shelly. They won’t let me do this alone. If we are going to be crazy, then let’s be it together, right? And it is their first races, as well.

On your mark, get set, go!

The ground was frozen. The air was hurting my face. Three layers of clothes on. Bundled up, I looked like a ninja all blacked out, and we were off. The snow-covered icy patches, the frozen gravel bits and tree roots and the air, have I mentioned that air was brutal?

At Mile 3, frozen sunglasses, numb hands and a Fitbit that was locked up it was so cold, I looked to my left and there was the finish line — the finish line, baby! Jess was right beside me the whole time, and she started cheering, “It is right here, Heather. We made it. Let’s go.” I crossed that finish line running right along beside her, tears — frozen tears — in my eyes.

And to think I didn’t even want to get out of bed and do this.

At that very instant, I became addicted. It happened instantly. Addicted to not only that feeling of standing under that finish line banner but that feeling of “Let’s do this again and beat this time.”

I left that day and signed up online for more races. In the days ahead, I found a new race partner who set the same goals I did and said, “Let’s train to run.” Wait, did I just say run? I don’t even know how. Yes, I said run the Oktoberfest 5K, and we are going to do just that, side by side. I have many races in between now and then to help me prepare.

I found strength I didn’t know I had to push past plateaus, to reach out and display my weaknesses, to find the courage some days to just put one foot in front of the other. I have now done another 5K and beat my time by a full two minutes.

I train each week and practice the course to beat my time, so if you see some crazy lady out in the rain in the early morning Saturday hours and think, “What is she doing?” that’s probably me. And while I would love to chat or wave or stop and say, “Hi,” I am on a mission. I just want to beat my time by a few seconds each time.

I am working toward a goal one pound, one barbell, one 5K at a time.

I am not your competition. I am not who you should worry about. I am taking no first place anything. But I am crushing my own goals, I am learning how to pace myself and I am on a heck of ride, and 2018 is my year.

Stronger, I will finish stronger than I have ever been. This is tough. I won’t lie. Life can get real messy. Remember that mindset. I can’t lose that mindset.

Look in that mirror. No matter what has tried to break you, you are still going.

Heather Chase is a Seymour resident chronicling her weight-loss and fitness journey. She will be writing a monthly column, published on the final Friday of each month, for one year with The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].

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