If you’ve read this long enough, you probably know that I’m the local news editor for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Well, this week we launched a new little project — because I have so much spare time to devote to side projects.
Coworker Cory and I are going to sample all kinds of fitness stuff this summer. And we’re doing it all on video.
Here’s our super awesome logo:
And here is the video for our first challenge.
Below is my column:
Everyone has to find their own rock bottom.
For me, it came about 12 years ago, as I wandered through a bookstore, still feeling foggy from the night before. I wasn’t exactly proud of my lifestyle at the time, making some bad decisions in a lot of areas.
I saw a book on running as I wandered, and it stopped me. Even with other poor life choices, I had always maintained a tiny bit of an active lifestyle — from mountain biking in college (and chain-smoking) to a little hiking and such after (and binge-drinking). But as I looked at that book, “The Non-Runners Guide to Marathoning,” I realized how far I had strayed from the person I used to be.
The one who ran track in high school. Who cared about health and fitness. Who wanted to be athletic, even if I was never talented enough to be competitive.
I have a lot of fifth-place ribbons, and the only thing I’ve ever won was my heat, once, as the anchor in the 1600-meter relay in high school (we took fifth overall, of course).
But that moment, crying in the bookstore, was my turning point. Anybody can run, right? And the book, which actually is a college text for a class where the final is completing a marathon, assured me that, yes, even I could do this. I already had quit smoking a few months earlier, only because I was so broke I had to choose between groceries and cigarettes. Small victory that I chose food, right?
I bought the book. And a pair of cheap running shoes. And I stepped outside. My first run, I couldn’t make it even a half-mile. I had to walk home.
But every day, step by step, I made it a little farther. And a few months later, I completed the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon — finishing in last place.
In the decade since, I’ve taken two hours and 40 minutes off my marathon time. I’ve run 10 marathons, including Boston this year, and a ton of other races, triathlons, bike rides and more. I teach spin classes at a gym. I write columns on fitness and wellness.
I changed my life.
I like to joke that I’ve “fallen in with a bad crowd,” one that thinks it’s more fun to go run at 5:30 a.m. than to go for drinks at 5:30 p.m. I’m only half-joking. I would never be where I am without the Sioux Falls running community. I hope I’ve been able to inspire others as much as people have inspired me.
It’s still a struggle some days to get up and go. Just this morning, I overslept completely and missed the only social time I have between work and having two young children.
The difference is, now I know that one missed day doesn’t mean anything. And I almost never miss two in a row. I don’t ever want to stand there again, hating myself and my life and wondering how, how did I get here?
Instead I try to remember how I got where I am now — one step at a time, with a few missteps in between.
And now I know that my health and well-being are worth investing in. It’s something I do, almost every day, by weaving through the city of Sioux Falls in the early morning light, with my closest friends and the knowledge that taking care of ourselves matters.
Jacqueline Palfy Klemond is the local news editor. She has her weaknesses, like anyone. Mostly for Diet Coke and red wine.