I’m going to be honest. I had a tough time thinking of just one word. I could have easily picked inspire, persevere, resilience, gigglebox (I tend to laugh, A LOT). As I thought about what running brings to my life, I started to think about my struggles with depression and anxiety and how running has helped the real me shine through by improving my physical and mental health. Then, at the Grand Teton Half Marathon a couple of weekends ago, a book in one of the national park gift shops caught my eye. This bright yellow book was staring at me and it was titled one simple word “Shine”! That’s it! Instantly, I knew that was my word!
I didn’t pick shine as in glittery, sparkly or standing out from a crowd. I’m the girl that rarely wears make-up and rarely dresses up, so that description doesn’t really fit. Shine has a different personal meaning for me as I will explain.
I currently live in Washington State and think of my personal struggles in a similar way to the cloudy weather we experience on a regular basis. My clouds are Depression and Anxiety. Like so many others, my childhood was sprinkled with some pretty unfortunate events – sexual abuse, father abandonment and then his death by suicide when I was only 5-years-old. I’m pretty sure these early experiences sparked self-doubt, negative thinking and led me to withdraw at times. Life continued to throw me curve balls in adulthood and the overwhelming depression and anxiety consumed me. I felt like the light inside me couldn’t shine through. The fun-loving, loves to laugh, smiles all the time, enjoys adventure Kim had been hidden behind all the overwhelming feelings I carried. I felt defined by my obstacles.
When I discovered running, the healing began. In 2004, I took a leap of faith and decided to join Team in Training with the goal of running a full marathon. Seriously, the first run I signed up for was a full marathon! What was I thinking? Initially, I thought this would be a great way to improve my physical health but soon discovered it was my mental health that benefited the most. There were a lot of tears left out on those running trails. Some tears were shed due to fears and doubt, like the day I had to complete 20 miles on a snowy, icy running trail. Others were tears of joy after conquering another distance I thought was impossible. Once I crossed the finish line at the P.F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon, I found that fun loving, loves to laugh, smiles all the time, adventurous Kim. She was there all along. I just had to find a way to find her.
Now, as I’m getting close to my 50th half marathon and beginning training for the New York City Marathon, I am in awe of how running has changed my outlook on life and has shown me how to shine no matter what obstacles I face. Every run isn’t perfect; it may be sprinkled with its own obstacles – blisters, cramps, injury, humidity, etc. But, those obstacles don’t define me. What defines me now is overcoming those obstacles and proving to myself once again that I can shine no matter what is put in my way. I’m forever grateful to running, running buddies and my Skirt Sports Sisters for inspiring me and helping me shine. As I begin my NYC training, my new running motto is “Don’t let anyone or anything dull your sparkle. Just SHINE!”