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#REALwomenmove: Happily Ever After

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Life is obviously full of before and afters (B&A).

Before marriage (aka, when you were in lust and your love would conquer all). And after marriage (aka, when a hot date is spending a Saturday afternoon at Home Depot).

Before kids (aka, when you blissfully went through life and complained about how busy you were). And after kids (aka, when you blissfully take 15 minutes to read a magazine and feel like you went on vacation).

Running’s got its fair share of B&As, too, of course.

Before you ran your first 5K, 10K, half marathon or full. And after, when you wouldn’t shut up about it. (I’m with you on that one, chicos and chicas.)

But I want to take a moment to acknowledge – and appreciate – the seemingly smaller running B&As that help make us lace up our shoes week after week. marathon-finish-lineHere are some of my favorites:

How about the first time I ran 10 miles? We’re talking double digits. Double. Digits. I thought I had invented running. But I also knew from then on that I could run just about any distance if I put in the time.

Or the time I ran in temperatures so low, my iPhone gave me a death message and shut down? Before, I couldn’t picture myself remotely enjoying winter. After, I still didn’t remotely enjoy winter, but at least I felt like this puerto rican chica might just be able to survive another year in Michigan.

I just had one of those B&A experiences while camping in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, where we visit every year. The past couple of years, I ran while on vacation, but I really wasn’t putting in the longer miles like I was when I was getting ready for my first marathon.

There’s this small, inland fishing lake we really like and I’ve often thought about running the 4.5 miles there and back. So, I grabbed some fuel and water, laced up and headed that way one morning on a whim.

Before my run to Perch Lake, I would have had to plan any route longer than about four miles to the minute. I would have obsessed about the distance and wondered if I could really make it there and back. Going alone? Forget about it.

After my run, I got to appreciate the freedom that comes from experience. That I can trust myself to go longer distances.

I’ve been relishing that feeling and looking forward to my next after, whenever it may come.