My name is Elizabeth and I’m a 32-year-old average Jane. My eating habits are not perfect. I am the first to say yes to appetizers and alcoholic beverages with good friends. I believe over indulging is required now and then and living life is part of my every day style. I work in a restaurant, which can make it tough to always eat healthy. Temptation is always there and some times it wins! I am standing on my feet 4 to 11 hours a day.
A year and a half ago I moved in with my boyfriend, 35 minutes away from the neighborhood I grew up in. If you are thinking it is not that far away, you are right! But to me, it is! My boyfriend is a Government Firefighter for Joint Base McGuire-Dix. He is also a Firefighter and Township Fire Inspector for Lakehurst Township. Our life style is far from usual. Night shift, day shift, 24-hour shifts, 3 day work shifts, and spur of the moment events keep us constantly on the go. I was in a place that was unfamiliar and alone a good portion of time. So what do I do?
I walk. I found a route through the neighborhood and slowly learned my surroundings. When I reached a comfortable status, I started to jog. I had to teach my self to breath and to set my goals. I would tell myself I will run to the next street sign. I would get there, then I would walk to the next. I would switch back and forth. Within a week I was able to make it around the neighborhood at least once. It was my proud moment & physically felt good. It sounds silly because I grew up as an athlete, I rode my bike for hours, played a catcher in softball for thirteen years, played basketball, field hockey, and I was an active, on the go child.
Then, I got older. The week is no longer filled with 5 days of practice after school and double headers on weekends. My adult sports consisted of going to the gym sporadically, working with a trainer, Spinning, step classes and the occasional Pilates class. Kick Boxing became my favorite. My problem is that I am NOT the six-day a week active gym member. I like being active outside.
My first winter came in my new home. Still getting use to the schedule that we lived, I decided to run more. It got me out of the house and doing something. One of my best girl friends, Nellie, asked me to run the Philadelphia Phillies 5k Charity with her. I signed up and waited for the day. It was 7 am, 32 degrees with snow on the ground at Citizens Bank Park in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. I don’t think I will ever forget it. In 38 minutes, I ran through the finish line holding Nellie’s hand while on the other side she held her Mom’s hand. Another proud moment!! All I could think is no matter what, I finished! I finished my first 5k! Two years later I have run countless 5ks. I run for me.
After you get through your first one you have to do another. The addiction immediately sets in. I started to look for runs and at the same time it kept me getting out to stay conditioned for at least 40 minutes every other day. I ran the Philadelphia 5k against Hunger in 36 minutes and was able to help get another friend of mine up and moving with me. Shortly after that my cousin asked me to run with her daughter in a program she is in called “Girls on the Run”. The program is for young girls and teen girls. It teaches them to be active and learn about nutrition By far, one of the cutest moments in my life.
I ran Philadelphia Phillies 5k, St Patty’s Run for Luck and Philadelphia Against Hunger Run. This year I proudly ran the 10 mile Broad Street run. In July, I ran the “Happiest 5k” Color Run. This is an event that is not timed, but an experience. I also completed my first 5k with 15 obstacles, called The Spartan Race in Mount Pocono- Blue Mountain. I climbed to the top of blue mountain, carried stone buckets, carried sand bags up and down the mountain, trudged through ponds, rolled under 1/4 mile of bared wire, climbed over 8 feet walls, ran through fire and dodged gladiators. It was SERIOUS! It was hot but fantastic. Everyone there rooted for each other, helped each other and at some point made it across the finish line. I am not winning first place. I am finishing what I started. The next day I completed the Merrell Down & Dirty in Fairmont Park Philadelphia, not as serious as the Spartan Race, but still mentally challenging and devotion is required.
Along with running, I have claimed my Spartan and Military Status. Next year I hope to complete my first Tough Mudder and Hero Rush for my Fire Fighter status. This November I will run an 8k as part of Philadelphia Marathon weekend. Wish me luck!
No matter your age, weight, or height you have to do what works for you. But do SOMETHING! I don’t run every day. Occasionally I will take a week or two off. I eat the best that I can. I love fruit, vegetables and salad. I sometimes overindulge in Mexican and chocolate. I enjoy a night out with friends as much as the next girl. I do what works for me. I run for me.
This is my story, this is who I am, constantly redefining my average every day Jane.
Cheers to Running,
Elizabeth A. Kirkwood