Ever since my tissue expander exchange surgery last October, I hadn't really been active or into the whole exercise thing. The one type of exercise that has inspired me and gotten me looking forward to going to the gym, a miracle in of itself, has been running.
That's right, folks. I run now.
That's right, folks. I run now.
It's pretty amazing that I finally found something that I enjoy doing, and I especially enjoy trying to outdo myself each time. I'm not competing against anyone except myself, and I freaking love it. I created an iPod playlist for me when I run, and my top three running songs are: Fuel by Metallica, Dancing on my Own by Robyn and EYE OF THE TIGER.
Ever since I've ended treatment, I've talked a lot about how I wanted to get back into shape, but I lacked follow through. Passion. I just couldn't get into it. While I went through the motions of exercising, I just couldn't feel excited about what I was doing. When the next day rolled around, I could find a million other things I'd rather do instead of going to the gym. My switch was stuck in the "sedentary and I like it" off position.
Around a month ago, I decided to see how I'd feel if I gave running a try. Before breast cancer, I actually ran semi-frequently. I was far from being a runner, but I could run over 5 MPH and even at an incline. This was my body before five surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. My body before cancer was one of subtle strength (I was a hell of a lot stronger than I looked!). I wasn't like Jennifer Garner in Alias fit, but I was lean and had a great set of legs.
My body after cancer is just one that I don't recognize but the one I have to accept is now mine. My legs lost their definition, and my chest is foreign to me, all numb and feels odd when I try to push, pull or pick up anything. I'm right handed, but when I pick up a weight, I'm much stronger in my left arm than my right arm. I can miss what I used to look like and what I used to be able to do. The danger, though, is dwelling on who I was before everything changed.
Setbacks. Obstacles to overcome.
After I ran for seven minutes straight, I felt amazing, and by amazing, I mean exhausted and sore in spots I wasn't aware could feel soreness. I got off the treadmill, feeling so accomplished and looking for someone to high-five. My body wasn't out to get me, like I have long been convinced of. It was actually working with me, cooperating, all for the goal of strength.
I wasn't afraid of my body anymore. For the first time in a long while, I was in awe of what my body could do besides creating tumors in inconvenient places. My body has been through so much, and there I was running. I don't have to sit on the sideline and be an observer. I could go out and run.
Goals. Feeling inspired.
The switch has been flipped. I can tell that's the case because after work on Monday, I went to the gym, and I ran a mile. Not only did I run a mile, I ran it at 5.4 MPH, which is at the same level as pre-cancer Lara. It won't be long until I start passing all the milestones that pre-cancer Lara did, and I'll stop comparing who I used to be to who I am now, like pre-cancer Lara is someone else.
Cancer is always going to be chasing me. I picture it sometime as this black-hooded, ominous figure that follows me wherever I go, hiding behind corners or bushes. Watching, waiting to see if now's the time to strike. I'm running now, and every quick step might be a little more distance between me and this disease.
I run to challenge myself.
I run to change myself, my body and self-confidence.
I run to test what I can do.
I run because if I stop, everything I'm running from might catch up to me, and I can't give cancer the satisfaction, now can I?