Hello everyone! Today I'm excited to share a post with you written by Stephanie (@superstephiesteph on Instagram). She has been an inspiration to me for a long time now, and I love the beautifully written inspirational messages she posts on her account! I contacted her to see if she'd be interested in sharing her transformation story and journey.
So, here's Steph:
When faced with a decision in life, we have two options: do or do not. We can jump forward or step back. Take a leap of faith or stand still. Fly or fall. However you look at the situation, the choice we make has the potential to influence our future forever. Most choices are trivial everyday choices, such as whether or not to have that second cup of coffee, but some choices have the potential to impact our lives significantly and will forever be remembered.
Rewind to one year ago where I found myself facing a potentially life changing situation, only thing is I wasn't even remotely close to being aware of the future impact it would have. Long story short, I hadn't exactly made the best choices in my life recently. I was unhappy and struggling to “fake it ‘till I made it”. I had gone through a string of broken relationships, wasn't confident about my self, and quite simply felt like I had no direction or control in my life. I finally woke up one morning to the realization that something needed to change if I wanted to avoid a downward spiral. Only problem was I had no idea what exactly I needed to do to evoke this necessity for change.
I didn't know it at the time, but the change I was searching for was about to be found in running. In the years prior to this moment I had a constant on-again-off-again love/hate relationship with running. I would force myself to run a 5k here and there without much training but would soon give up, get frustrated, and struggle to have the motivation to keep going. I constantly told myself running wasn't for me. My short legs weren't built for it and I would never amount to much in the sport. If anyone brought up the idea of a half marathon, I would cringe and laugh at how awful it sounded! Who in their right mind would ever run that far for fun?
Nevertheless, I decided to give it one more go. If at first you don't succeed, try try again, right? What did I have to lose? I was grasping at straws in life and needed to do something! Anything!
One month prior to my birthday, I got a wild hair up my you-know-what and decided I was going to run a 10k before I turned 30. I was tired of making excuses and tired of feeling like I was going to amount to nothing. I was done with feeling like I had no control and was ready to take life by the reins. I found a 10k not far away and signed up! I had 3 weeks to prep… 3 weeks! What did I just get myself into???
Nevertheless, I did what I could in such a short time to prep and race day was here before I knew it. The start/finish line was on a high school track field and I will never forget the uncontrollable nerves coursing through my veins in the minutes prior to the race. It didn't help that it was one of the coldest mornings we had had all month and here I was shivering my arm hairs off in a t-shirt and shorts. We lined up, the countdown began, the race gun fired, and off we went. One hour and 10 minutes of huffing and puffing later, I finally crossed the finish line. All I cared about was running the whole thing without walking and I had done it. I had done it! I was in shock. I nearly threw up at the finish line trying to toe the line in that 1:10 mark, but I held it together and I did it. The things you can do when you truly put your mind and effort towards a goal never cease to amaze me.
I had just ran my first 10k! Well, now what?? I was determined to not repeat my mantra running one race and quitting. I had to find some motivation to keep going and if there's one thing that motivates people to do something, it's investing time and money into it, right? I found a series of races that occurred every other month where you could pay for them all at once for a discounted price and decided this was the best way to keep up! I signed up for a handful of 10k and 5k races through December and we were all set!
The more races I did, the more I got to know some members of the local running communities. Let me be the first to tell you that the running community is truly special! They are some of the most genuine and supportive people you will ever meet. Whether you are on the trail, contemplating your next race, or enjoying that delicious post race beer, they will always be your #1 support group. Finding a support group, be it your peers, your running buddies, your family, your significant other, etc., is key. Had it not been for some of my dear friends both old and new, I can honestly say I may not have been so compelled to push my limits.
The months sneaked by and I unexpectedly found myself starting to enjoy running. What was this crazy feeling?! Before I knew it, I was constantly searching online for new races to try, trail runs, longer distances... you name it. I was constantly talking about future races to my friends. One day, one of them said to me, “Steph, just do a half marathon already!” I had juggled with the idea for quite some time by this point, and finally decided, what have I got to lose? I signed up for not one, but two half marathons… 3 weeks apart. I never claim to do things the conventional way. Go big or go home.
In October and November of 2017 I ran my first two two half marathons. I didn't care too much about time as long as I ran the whole thing. For the first race, I had chosen to do it in Texas so I could also visit family. The flight out was crazy early, I had barely slept the night before, it was cold enough to cut glass that morning, and the same nerves I felt before my first 10k had returned. Nevertheless, I mustered through and finished with a time of 2:41. I didn't care that I ran slower than molasses in winter, I had just achieved a feat I had never even dreamed of six months prior.
Running had truly began to transform me and change my outlook on life. I found myself waking up in the morning actually looking forward to my run that day. I was going to the gym regularly and my image and self-care was changing drastically. I was finally learning the importance of taking care of myself. The mantra “mind over matter” had a whole new meaning to me and I would constantly chuckle to those who thought I was crazy for running all the time.
Maybe I was crazy. But aren't we all a little crazy deep down inside? All I knew was that I was addicted to the feeling of accomplishing a new feat in running, be it a record distance or record pace, it didn't matter. I had people telling me that I inspired them to do better, be more fit, to change. Me: an inspiration? I was in utter shock. All because I decided to run a 10k and keep going, was it really possible that I was helping others to see their potential? I was (and still am!) truly in awe and beyond grateful for the path my life had taken. It soon became a cycle of constant inspiration; those who I inspired were now inspiring me to keep going and to keep adding on to those miles!
Fast forward to today: I have ran 2 back-to-back 100+ mile months and I have my first ultra marathon (a 50k) coming up in April. I’m also having my first go at a triathlon in April. Once again, go big or go home, right??? I don't know what the outcome will be for either of these races, but I look forward to the challenge. I don't know what my future for running looks like, but I look forward to finding out. One day I'd like to be able to check a 100 miler off my list, but for now that day has yet to be scheduled. In the meantime, a girl can dream, right?
If you take only one thing from this story of self-transformation, let it be that you really can do anything you put your mind to. If you tell yourself you can't, you never will. But if you decide to try to fly, to take that leap of faith, and to jump, you have the potential to go far. It all starts with choosing to just go for it and not give up. Surround yourself with people that will support you in your endeavors, no matter what. Reach for that second cup of coffee, and don't look back. The possibilities are endless.
In conclusion, I would like to extend a special shout-out to the amazing ladies of Backcountry Women. I recently came across this group of wonderful humans who constantly support each other and encourage one another to push the boundaries of doing the impossible via social media and I couldn't be more grateful. It is this very type of support group we all could use in our lives; to encourage us to do better, be bolder, and live life to its fullest. Get out there. Be awesome and do the impossible.
Thank you for sharing your journey with the Backcountry Women community, Steph! I look forward to seeing your future accomplishments unfold.