My long-time amiga and fellow boricua Margarita is returning to running after a bit of a break, so I asked her to share her story here. Margarita is also a fellow former journalist and public relations expert. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
By Margarita Bauzá
So this morning, I went on the Fifth Third River Bank Run website and signed up to do a 25k.
I didn’t really put that much thought into it. My friend Teresa, who turns 61 this year, asked me to join her. Sure, why not? I signed up right away.
About 14 years earlier, new to Detroit, I had done a similar thing. My friends were running a 5K the morning of the Detroit Free Press Marathon. I felt a bit silly signing up for “just a 5K” when a whole marathon was going on next to us. So I did what any sane person would do: I signed up for the marathon happening that very next day.
I had never contemplated running that far. Nor had I any concept of what kind of training it took to run that far. In fact, I don’t think I actually knew how far “that far” was.
Thank goodness, on the morning of, several outraged friends talked me out of doing it. “You could die,” they warned. “You really could. We love you. Don’t do this.” I glumly conceded they were probably right. I went ahead and did “just the 5K.”
But the idea that this website had accepted my name, info and credit card number planted a seed. I even got a T-shirt out of it: a marathoner T-shirt. If the person operating this marathon website finds it acceptable for me to attempt this, why wouldn’t I?
Months later, I signed up to do a full marathon with many months to spare and train. I joined an endurance training program and began running five days a week. I made lots of friends and soon enough we were all a cult of “runners” doing “runner things.”
“Runner things” consisted of:
- Eating lots of peanut butter
- Eating lots of pasta
- Eating lots of carbs
- Talking about chaffing
- Talking about anti-blister socks
- Talking about gastrointestinal discomfort
- Talking about peeing
- Talking about how much to drink and when
- Talking about our favorite GU flavors
- Talking about when to go #2 if you are going on a long run
My thoughts after my first marathon (Phoenix) in January 2004: “I will never do this again.” “I want to cut my legs off and not feel pain.” “Someone shoot me.”
Days later: “That wasn’t so bad!” “I want to do this again!” “I miss running!” “Now that I know how to do this, I can aim for a better time.”
This went on for several years, three more full marathons (Vancouver, San Francisco, Detroit), several dozen half marathons, triathlons and century bike rides.
Then one day, just as I had started, I stopped. Life got busy. Love, work, kids, family activities, exhaustion, eating poorly, traveling for work, eating bad food while traveling for work, Netflix. It was a long list of stumbling blocks and barricades.
A bit over a year ago, I signed up to do the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon. I was feeling as far as one could feel from “healthy” and “runner.”
I carried significantly more weight than the day of my first marathon in 2004. Training was hard. Doing the race was even harder. It was not a joyous experience. It hurt physically and mentally. I held back tears walking back to my car after crossing the finish line. Yes, I was proud, but I was also scared that I had veered so far off what had been such a great and joy-filled path.
Since that day, I have lost a big chunk of weight and I hit the gym regularly.
I am still not where I would like to be, but I am way ahead of where I was a year ago.
Things are lining up. Wait, no.
I am lining things up.
I am lifting. I am sleeping. I am eating better food.
I am registered for my race.
I have my socks ready. I have my shoes ready. I am saying “no” to things that don’t contribute and “yes” to those that do.
I am making plans. I am lacing up. I am running.
Margarita Bauzá is a native of Puerto Rico and a Detroit-area resident for the past 14 years. A former journalist at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, she currently works in automotive public relations. She has completed four marathons, many half marathons, a couple of CRIM 10 milers, several triathlons and a very long 122 century ride that traversed the Hoover Dam. She loves to ski, play soccer and is breaking her Netflix addiction. She is returning to running in 2016 after too long a hiatus.