No I’m not being chased by the police. I started jumping in 10ks and 1/2 marathons again after years of not racing. We all carry baggage, and for a very long time I had a lot of running and triathlon baggage. Today I’m chasing around three kids and for some reason (maybe maturity) I no longer carry that baggage. In fact I can watch videos of the old Mariel Running at Stanford, Footlocker, and the world championships and I don’t get that twisted-sad-anxious-gut. That feeling that I missed my calling. That feeling dissolved the moment my first son was born. So yeah, I ran competitively at the high school, NCAA level, and competed half a dozen times on the world stage in three different sports. But then...I crashed.
My crash was physical (into the side of a van) but it was also psychologically taxing and emotionally draining. I had always been on the verge of breaking down as long as I can remember. I was a total type A personality, I got straight A‘s in school, cried when I got a ‘B’, cried when I lost a race...and during college I fought with body image and the need to be thin. For me it wasn’t a desire, it was a need on a visceral level. Images of what fast women looked like, rail thin and sinewy were drilled into me by outside influences but even more so by my own demons in my head. Running became unhealthy. I became unhealthy. After college I was able to turn the tides by switching from running to triathlons and there I gained world experiences again. I raced in New Zealand, Ireland, Morocco...it was fabulous. But it didn’t take long for the demons to return. I had a love affair with triathlon and with the first man I cared for deeply outside of my family. Love and triathlon went hand in hand for several years, but I needed more from myself and so I decided to go to law school, on the other side of the country...mistake? No. There's no such thing. There are just choices we make and I made mine...I kept racing triathlons throughout law school, quite successfully. I was the number one female in the USA for a year there...but like all great love stories...mine ended. He was hit by a car. Life was never the same. Neither was I. Then I was in a bad accident on my bike. I had decided to race collegiate cycling and ended up being air lifted off the national course in Kansas City. I never raced again. I broke both hands, my left tibia, severed my right ulna and ulna nerve, and had to be checked for swelling at the base of my brain in a Missouri hospital.
The crash started the worst downward spiral you could dream of. A story for another time. Looking back I don’t even know who that person was that spiraled out of control. It wasn't me, it couldn’t have been...I worked too hard to be that shell of a person...but I was.
It took several years to reinvent who I wanted to be. Fortunately in that time I moved to a beautiful city on the coast of Washington, got a simple job, and met a very complicated man who is now my husband. He never judged my past he never questioned my core. He was 100 percent acceptance and exactly what I needed. Fast forward nine years and three kids later, he’s encouraged me to run again. But this time I run on my terms. Mom terms. My kids cheer. I laugh. I run because it feels good. Because therapy would be too expensive. Because it’s a gift God gave me. I run because it’s my mom moment. A moment to reconnect with myself. I don’t run from demons anymore. Well, unless you are talking about a 6 year old boy chasing me with a laser gun...then I run...fast