Monday, July 20, 2015


[ ˈkizmit, -ˌmet ]
noun: kismet
destiny; fate:
    "what chance did I stand against kismet?"
Back in 2013 this blog was born after a series of events that firmly planted me on my fitness journey. I'm not sure how I was so fortunate to be at the right place at the right time, but there it was. Serendipity. Going way back to my very first post I sort of described how I became a runner. A few posts later I followed up with my story about getting a free race entry into both the Rock n Roll Half Marathon AND Chicago Triathlon. Last year after running that same half marathon for the second time I did a sort of soul searching recap, reflecting on my first full year as a runner.

Last night as I sat at the dinner table with Claire and Denise going over my unofficial race recap I retold the story of my very first half marathon. I realized its something I haven't always shared with everyone. It seems so long ago, back to a time and place when I doubted my own abilities and didn't realize how much more I was capable of. Looking back on the progress I've made really put things in perspective for me. I'll do a full recap of the race from this weekend in a few days, but for now, I'm still reminiscing about how lucky I've been.

This time two years ago I did not consider myself a runner. I had a handful of 5Ks under my belt and even a few obstacle course races, but I still didn't FEEL like a runner. I was slow and clumsy and didn't think I could EVER consider running anything longer than a half marathon. I thought it would take me at least a year to even try a 10k. Its surreal to think back to a time when I thought running 6 miles was absurd. In one of the most fortuitous turn of events in my running career, I was given a free entry to the Rock n Roll Half Marathon 2013. I felt so blessed from the opportunity that I wrote the following email to the woman from Xsport who gave me the entry (that year Xsport was one of the sponsors):

Hi Kelly,

I'm not sure if you'll remember me or not but I wanted to take a moment to thank you for truly going above and beyond to provide EXCEPTIONAL customer service.  On Friday I stopped by the Xsport booth at the Rock'n'Roll 1/2 Marathon Expo to ask about member discounts for the race and you personally walked me over to make sure that the code you had would work.  I told you I wasn't ready to run a half and would use the registration to do the mini marathon (5k) instead.  
Well, after going home that day I started wondering if maybe it was fate stepping in and telling me that I needed to just take a leap of faith and try the half marathon.  I mean you can't cross the ocean if you're always afraid to lose sight of the shore right?  Previously the longest race I had completed was a 5 mile obstacle run so the thought of a half marathon was so daunting that I didn't think I would be ready to even try for at least a few years.  I'm just at the beginning of my fitness journey, I started in November when I ran my very first race and haven't stopped since.  
A few months ago I got really serious about my health and decided to join Xsport which has helped me tremendously.  Since April I have lost a total of 31 lbs!  So you can see how I might be intimidated by a race that most people would think I'm crazy for even trying.  It wasn't until Sunday morning when I was lining up in my corral that I finally made my decision, despite all of the excuses I kept telling myself of why I couldn't do it, I dashed across that starting line to start my very first half marathon just 8 months after lifting myself off the couch to start running.  
I wasn't sure how far I would make it, and it didn't really matter because all I wanted to do was prove that I could at least try.  I  wasn't looking for a fast time, or even a PR, I just wanted the chance to cross that finish line and you gave me that opportunity so for that I will be forever grateful.  I'm happy to say that I indeed did cross that finish line (and surprisingly did so at 3:24:14...which is a time that I will wear proudly like a badge of honor).  Sorry for the lengthy email, but I wanted to let you know how much you changed my life without even knowing it.  You helped me get to the finish line of a race that I never thought I would even start, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but later that day I received the following response from her:
Hi Natali,
WOW!  Thank you SO much for taking the time and effort to write your email! 
Of course I remember you, and I am really thrilled by your achievement!  Some days I get so caught up in business stuff, I forget why I am in this industry, then I get your email, and it makes it all worthwhile.  :)  Fitness can change lives not just by what it does to your body (and that’s incredible!), but it shows you that you can do whatever you set your mind to do, and that is powerful.  Setting a goal and not giving up on yourself is an amazing feat, and I commend you for that!  Anything is possible.  Your story is an inspiration for ME to remember that (because sometimes I forget!).
It’s funny that our interaction started because we had let you down so greatly in the gym, but I am so glad that it enabled us to connect at the Expo and I was able to hear your story.  Thank you so much for reaching out and giving XSport another chance, and congratulations again for reaching beyond your original goal.  Keep going!!  You are amazing!

As I read those emails out loud to Claire & Denise I felt a wave of emotion. It was as if I could feel all of those insecurities and then remembered the courage I found to overcome them. If it weren't for that free race entry I'm not sure how long it would have taken me to convince myself I was capable of completing a half marathon. I surely wouldn't have registered for a triathlon. Sometimes I get so caught up in the next big challenge that I don't take the time to remember how I got here. I've gotten so used to going to that place in my head where I dig down deep to find the strength I need, that I've forgotten how I found that strength in the first place.

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