these two women were athletes. they thought they had everything figured out and that they would always just be…well…athletes. but change happens, opportunities expire, college ends, we get old or hurt. and for erin and ashley, they were able to discover new challenges for themselves that pushed them the way sports did, and maybe even surprised them a little.
then I found myself living in the same city as my 2 older sisters–who are also ex-athletes. they introduced me to the core fusion classes at exhale spa, and alas, the rest is history. no jk. at first, I hated it. I felt like a total dweeeeeeb doing a group exercise class with a bunch of other women getting tired from using 3lb weights. I mean, I was the girl who could beat the boys in number of consecutive chin ups. but by working out next to my sisters I was able to channel that inner competitor. As 1 of 5 siblings in my family, you can better believe I’ve got some competition issues…#middlechildsydnrome. And core fusion classes are HARD. They push your body and mind in ways that I’ve never experienced. so now I’ve gotten to know some of the instructors at exhale and I know which classes work for me and my needs. I set little goals for myself each class and have even learned how to compete against myself in order to get the most out of each 1-hour session.
so there you have it. the life and times of an ex-college athlete trying to keep up with her athletic competitor days and not really giving a shit that I don’t have those six pack abs anymore. I have too much fun drinking and eating anyways.
erin is so trendy. she is also brilliant, and has the most perfectly hombred hair you’ll ever encounter. erin is one of the 3 founding members of boston – based fashion blog 5 days x 5 ways and if you haven’t heard of it, you live under a rock. it’s the most creativest thing ever. erin also works at Arnold, and loves her alma mater, Dartmouth oh so very much!
“Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.” - Doris Brown Heritage First woman to run sub 5-minute indoor mile
I would have laughed in your face if you had said something like that to me pre-sophomore year of college. I had never run more than 2 miles in my life and even 2 miles was pushing it. I was an athlete, but running was never something that I felt I needed, let alone wanted to do. As a senior in high school I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I chose a degree in volleyball. Yes, that’s right, I chose my college based on where I could compete in a sport that in no way, shape or form could or would be a source of income or steady career in the future. I chose Saint Anselm College, which also happened to be the second worst team in NCAA II (Thank you, Assumption College!).
Sophomore year came rolling around and still I had no idea where I was headed, besides the football house for a Saturday night keg party. Two days before the major deadline (pun intended) I had to make a decision. I flipped through the course pamphlet and found “Sports Psychology.” What better way to spend my time than with a bunch of jocks in a class that had to do with my real major – volleyball, that is. Of course, as luck would have it, the course was already full. Well, for those of you who know me, you know when I put my mind to something, I don’t stop until I have what I want. So I went to the source – I caught the professor and head of the Psychology department lacing up a pair of sneakers in his corner office on the third floor of the science building, about to head out for a run. I stopped him and asked to be placed into the class. We stared at each other in silence for a few brief and extremely awkward moments and then he grabbed my arm and said, “Let’s go for a run.” Oh jeeze, running with a male professor at dusk in the woods of New Hampshire, what could possibly go wrong?!
I was quick to point out that I was not a runner, nor did I have any intention to be. And he said, “I know, your intention is to enter my class, but to do so you must run.” So we ran. We talked. I explained my reasoning for wanting to be a psychologist (total bullshit and as a clinical psychologist, I’m sure he knew that). He asked me questions about what led me to Saint Anselm College, about my experiences so far, about volleyball. By the end of the two-mile run, he said I could enter the class. This was under one condition – I run. Of course there was an alternative, I could write a weekly paper, but let’s be honest, that was not a legitimate alternative. As I thought about the bacon and cheese omelet I had for breakfast with an extra large size of hash browns, I thought “what could I lose” (besides weight), but I had no idea what I was actually about to gain.
A few of my teammates and friends followed suit after sharing my story of finagling my way into class. We were in this together. Runs came and went, waking up at 5am on Thursdays preparing for the weekend of volleyball games and football parties (knowing the runs would allow us that extra beer as we mourned the loss of yet another game).
After one particularly rough Friday night loss, my teammate and I called on our professor to take a midday Saturday run, as runs started to be something that we did for… for fun. He happily obliged and took us out on a course through Manchester we had never been on. We ran, and ran, and ran. A few feet before stepping back onto campus soil our professor stopped us and asked if we knew how far we had just run. Neither of us did, the only thing we knew was that we felt good, really good, a complete 180 from the feeling of despair we started with.
“You just ran a half marathon,” he said “marathon training starts in two weeks.” And he was off.
Maybe it was the dehydration or the endorphins that you get after a long run, but we actually considered it. Family members and friends always responded the same way, “HA you’re f*^*ing kidding me.” Nope (remember what I said about me putting my mind to something). Two weeks later we were training for the Boston Marathon.
Do you know how hard it is to get up at 7am on a Sunday in college, let alone 7am on a Sunday to run 15 miles… oh, and in New Hampshire… in December and January? This is where friendship comes in. When you have friends who are relying on you to get your ass out of bed, you get your ass out of bed. And so we did. We ran.
Months of training were put in, trading in our vodka sodas for water and limes so as to not throw up on our early morning runs. Finally the time had come. It was April and we were ready. The week before the marathon I lost a friend, Chad, in a tragic car accident. The funeral was the day of the marathon. I was heartbroken and torn. I had a decision to make; And so, I did what I had started to do when any big decision needed to be made, I ran. In that short run I decided that my friend would have wanted me to run the marathon. Having researched the marathon, I knew the last six miles were the hardest; it was the start of Heartbreak Hill (ironic huh?). I decided I would run the last six miles in silence (aka no Beyonce cheering me on) for him.
Running a marathon is an incredible experience. It’s life changing. In 4 (okay 4.5 for me) hours you feel every one of life’s emotions – from the extreme highs of “Holy crap I can’t believe I am doing this!” to the absolute lowest of lows “I wish someone would kill me right now, it would be less painful than this.” At the start of Heartbreak Hill, hearing the crowd for the first time as I shut down my ipod, prepared for the silence, I looked up at the cheering crowd and that’s when I saw it – “You can do it, Chad.” Shivers went up my spine. I realized, as the shooting pain of the Charlie horses in the back of my hamstrings kicked in, that all of this pain, emotional and physical, was temporary. It would last as long as it took me to run the 26.2 miles, but the pain that Chad’s family and loved ones experienced would last a lifetime. I grabbed my friend’s hand, with tears in my eyes, and crossed the finish line.
Running is a funny thing, people run for all different reasons, many to lose weight or stay in shape. I run to feel alive. I run to feel emotions that I can’t experience in my day-to-day life, as a glorified customer service representative, ehm I mean Advertising Account Manager. I run for me. The marathon made me realize how temporary pain can be, or how long, depending on your outlook. It made me realize that there really is nothing that I put my mind to that I can’t accomplish. Cliché right? But it’s true. My journey through fitness has been one filled with self-awareness and learning both my physical and mental limitations. I wake up every morning at 5 am, without setting an alarm. I look forward to working out – not just for my physical health, but mental. I challenge you to find your inner strength, find that thing that makes you tick and makes you realize just how far you can push yourself. I guarantee you’ll be both surprised and pleased by the outcome.
….that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
ashley is really tall and smiley. like, so smiley. she’s also really warm and fuzzy and the first time i met her we were matching so i instantly liked her. she’s also dating my funniest guy friend so that means she’s a good judge of character. ashely just moved to boston from rhode island and we are very lucky to have her. what a catch.