Wednesday, March 8, 2023
By: Sarah Jackson, Charm City Run Columbia Training Group Member (since December 2021)
I’ve been morbidly obese most of my life. Today, hovering around 245 pounds, I am simply obese. Yet I am grateful for that small step in the right direction. In 2017, I gave up the idea that I would be like this forever and started the process to undergo weight loss surgery, RNY gastric bypass. Within the next three years, I lost a hundred and twenty five pounds. Yay! Then COVID hit. I gained back 50 pounds. Not so yay.
My bariatric program includes a support group on Facebook. Several of my fellow losers would post about their run training for various races. They even had a weekly meet up to walk a 5K. I decided to join one of the walks. I met lovely people. Lovely inspiring people. Now, all my life, I had wanted to be able to run. I don’t know why, I just did. Here was a group of people, just like me, who ran. I walked with them for a year, but never got the courage to start running. I wanted to, but I felt embarrassed and weak. I so badly wanted to run though.
One of my fellow support group members mentioned Charm City Run’s Training Groups. I had already shopped at Charm City Run online to get good running shoes, so I was halfway there. I saw a winter training group for a 5K in Columbia. Scared as I could be, I signed up. I had never run before, but the information online said walkers were welcome.
I arrived at the first training session, shaking in my shoes, just so sure I was going to stick out like a sore thumb. I was definitely the largest person there, but no one laughed. We gave introductions and our running background. Many others were already runners and were just getting back into running. I stated that I had never run before in my life. No one laughed. All were encouraging.
That first run luckily started downhill. I think I ran for 15 seconds. Then I walked. Then I tried running some more. Another 10 seconds. Then I walked. Then I ran some more. However many seconds. Then we turned around and it was all uphill to get back to the store. I nearly died. I was gasping for breath, not able to talk, and barely surviving even though I was only walking. The coach, Amy (I’m totally part of the Amy fan club), walked with me, encouraging me and telling me I was faster than the couch, and look what I was doing when 90% of the people in the world were still in bed sleeping. As I feared, I was the last person back. No one laughed. No one was impatient.
I remained the last person arriving back for nearly a year. I didn’t mind so much, because I got cheers when I did arrive. (Runners are lovely people.) I’m proud of myself for how hard I try. I am doing something I never thought I’d be able to do. Whenever I hit a new milestone or PR, I have people telling me good job. We encourage each other, no matter where we are in our running journey. We are all proud of each other. My coach gave me a note, praising me for how hard I worked, and that she liked coaching people with my attitude. I display that note on my medal rack. My medal rack is getting full.
It’s been over a year, and I can almost reliably run a mile without having to walk (assuming no uphills). I’m still incredibly slow, but as Amy says, I’m faster than the couch. I’ll take that. My goal is to run a 5K without walking. It might take me years. That’s fine. I’m enjoying the process.
Yes, I am obese. Yes, I am a runner.