Yesterday, a friend enthusiastically congratulated me on my half marathon and asked me how it went. I shrugged like it was no big deal. In that moment, I realized that I robbed myself of my accomplishment, and this is trend in my life. I have a tendency to devalue my accomplishments, especially if I think they are easy for other people.

I have struggled with body-image issues my entire life, cursing my Italian hips and extra padding. I have also spent my adult life in a profession surrounded by incredibly fit and often much younger people. Many of my colleagues can run a half marathon off the couch, and I have always perceived myself as less strong, less fit, less athletic. In the midst of these comparisons, I have forgotten that while I may be less strong, or less fit, I AM ACTUALLY strong and fit.

Truth be told, I used to hate to run. It would make my body all tight, hurt my feet, and discourage me. I found running boring unless it involved a soccer ball. I was envious of those who appeared to enjoy it. In recent years, I have come to realize that running provides a lot of bang for your buck as an exercise, and I desired to trail run in some beautiful locations. I also hoped it could be meditative as it affords a mindfulness that road cycling, for example, often does not. I became determined to learn how to run. I trained for this half marathon for eight weeks, gradually increasing my mileage and working on running hills. I paid attention to my posture and my muscle imbalances and was more hydrated than I usually am. I still have a long way to go to really “be a runner,” but I am off to a good start. The best part: I have learned to like running!

I vowed that my forties would be my fittest decade, and I am determined to live up to that expectation. I ran 13.1 miles, and I liked it! I hope this is not only the start of my fittest decade, but also the start of being able to celebrate, rather than disregard, my accomplishments!