Why didn’t you tell me I would find so much of myself through running?
October 20, 2013. That was “the” day of the Army Ten Miler in Washington, DC. And I was registered.
But I. Am. Not. A. Runner. Yep. That’s what I said. Yes, I have run various 5ks throughout the years but I never really considered myself a runner. That is until October 20, 2013.
The day dawned cold and dark yet my best friend Amy and I were out the hotel door at 6:15am to catch the shuttle over to the staging area at the Pentagon. I had crazy nervous butterflies in my stomach and couldn’t believe I was actually going to do this.
I turned 40 in September. This was part of my celebration and the long road the military has taken my life on. I am married to a 22 year National Guard member and we have seen our share of ups and downs throughout deployments, injuries, AT and weekend Guard duty.
It has been an interesting journey especially when living 90+ miles from the nearest base. Most people here look at you like a crazy person when you say your husband is in Iraq and you have a newborn and a 4 year old. The classic questions like “Can’t he just come home?” and “Why would he want to do that?” were a daily conversation.
Committing to this race was one more thing. Driving over I knew I was ready. I had put the time in training. While not the fastest runner, I knew I could finish even if I had to drag myself across the finish line.
Amy is an amazing friend having stood by me through all the bumps the military has handed us. She has been there listening to my craziness and making me laugh through every step of the way. For us to run this together was a true tribute to me of our friendship.
Amy set the goal (as a true runner herself) that I would not walk even once throughout the race and be able to say I ran the whole thing. This seemed like a daunting task to me as I started out. As the miles went by she kept on telling me I could.
It was in the moments of seeing wounded warriors running and families wearing shirts in memory of loved ones that I knew I could keep going. I wanted to stop--believe me I did--but Amy kept reminding me of sleepless nights nursing a newborn, reassuring our preschooler and all that came in between.
Amy said, “Ten miles is nothing compared to two deployments.”
I didn't feel the elation when I crossed the finish line. It didn't hit me until about an hour into the drive home that I did it. I ran 10 miles! I finally said out loud. I. AM. A. RUNNER! And wow, did it feel awesome.
Allison Leonard is stay-at-home mom of two. Since her husband is a Pennsylvania National Guard member and a police officer, Allison has developed creative ways to celebrate holidays at odd times and on odd days. She is a soccer, dance, swim, lacrosse, running and everything else mom and wouldn't have it any other way. Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story. If you have a story for us, please submit using the contact button above. All stories must be original and unpublished.