"In November 2012, I signed up for the Anyone Can Run class to train for my first 5K. I'm not sure what prompted me to do that, because I'd never run more than a mile in my life, and running had always been an activity I loathed. I couldn't run for more than a couple minutes at a time when I first started, and a 5K felt like an impossible task.
Not only was I facing the physical feat of training my heart and lungs and legs to perform a strenuous activity, but I was also fighting emotional battles with every step. Nothing brings out your insecurities like squeezing into a pair of spandex pants and trying to exercise in public! It's like there was a recording playing on repeat in my head, telling me I wasn't really a runner, I couldn't do this, no one who looked at me saw an athlete.
That's where the importance of the group dynamic kicked in. If I had tried to start running on my own, I would have quit within a couple weeks. It was just too hard, on many levels. But in the Anyone Can Run class, I made friends. Every time I told myself I couldn't do it, someone in the class would tell me that I could. My classmates and coaches expressed confidence in my potential, and that gave me the courage to keep trying. Every week, I showed up for class and surprised myself. I didn't die, and I only cried once!
Soon, it was time for my first race - the 2013 Chilly 5K - and when I crossed the finish line, the cheers of my running friends drowned out that mean ol' voice in my head. I could do it. I had done it. And this feeling of setting big goals and accomplishing them - I was totally addicted.
After the Chilly 5K, I slowly worked up to running a 10K. Then, there were more 5Ks, relay races, a couple half marathons - I loved it all.
This summer, I signed up for the YMCA's marathon training class. On November 2, 2014, I crossed the finish line of the Bass Pro Marathon, and if I hadn't already sweated all the liquid out of my body, I would have been in tears. Three years ago, it never would have occurred to me to set a goal like running 26.2 miles, but I set it and I reached it. And best of all, I had running friends to help me train all summer and celebrate with me at the finish line. (And let's be honest, there was some celebrating before the finish line, too. Runners gotta eat.)
What seems impossible to you in 2015? Running a 5K? Learning to swim? Attending a fitness class for the first time? In my experience, if you will be patient with yourself and consistent in your training, you'll be amazed at how far you can go. However, I think the most compelling part of my running story is not how far I've come, but how much I've been helped along the way by friends and coaches.
I think you should dream big in 2015. I think you should determine to do that thing that seems impossible, and like my running buddies - who deserve lots of fanfare and t-shirts made in their honor - I think you should encourage someone else along the way."