Kasandra is a 27 year old fitness lover in New York City. When she is not running races, she is busy getting her M.A. and taking care of her fur-babies known as Nicky, Dante, and Marty. You can read more about what she is up to at her blog: RunningLongIslandNYC.wordpress.com. You can also tweet her @UrbaninSuburbia.
I never imagined myself as a runner. As a kid, I dreaded running laps during gym class. I remember having “gym” tests and if you could run 12 laps without stopping, then you passed. I barely passed (and that’s because when the teacher wasn’t looking, I would stop and walk). Growing up in New York City, home of the ING Marathon, I would admire those brave souls who dared to run 26.2 miles through the 5 boroughs. My old neighborhood was part of the route; every November, I would walk down the street to watch the runners. But secretly, I envied them. I don’t know when the switch from hating running to being envious of runners happened, but it did. I still, however, was not convinced that I could “do it.” Then one day in 2009 I saw a sign for the YAI Central Park 5K which benefited the disabled – especially disabled children.
Having worked as a paralegal helping those obtain disability benefits, the desire to run all of a sudden clicked. The day of the 5K was rough. I could barely jog the 3.1 miles. I finished around 45 minutes and was wiped out. And so, I headed home defeated. “Who was I kidding?” I told myself. And I figured I was done.
Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2011. I had lost some weight through exercise and eating healthily. I was watching Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year’s Eve party on TV and I was discussing my resolutions for the coming year. At first I didn’t think I had any, but that initial fire I felt when I signed up for that 5K many moons earlier, crept up. And so I decided I would give running another shot. I joined the New York Road Runners and signed up for my first race which was 4 miles. I started training (mostly on a treadmill – it was the middle of winter after all). On race day, I felt crappy about all the runners flying by me. However, I dug deep when I felt like stopping. And I didn’t stop. Before I knew it, the finish line was approaching. As I crossed it, I felt exuberant! I could not believe I had actually run another race.
Afterwards, I could not stop talking about the race and how I felt. I loved it. It was an amazing accomplishment for myself. So I signed up for another. And then another. And then another one after that. Before I knew it, I was doing my first half marathon!
Running for me is where I find myself. In this crazy thing we call life where we have to deal with work, family, and all sorts of other stressors, this is the one thing that is my own. When I run, I forget all about the other stuff going on. It’s my time for me – no one else. It doesn’t matter if I am running on my own, on the treadmill, or in a race. After every run, I am proud of my body for what it can accomplish and thankful for what it brings to me. Of course, getting a shiny medal afterwards doesn’t hurt.