How I fell in love with running…
Growing up, I was not a runner. This is not one of those running blogs you read where the writer is from a family of generations of runners, running her whole life, winning medals and trophies and prizes along the way. Haha, no. My family doesn’t run. My earliest attempts at running (as a teenager) involved me making up my mind to go running, grabbing my discman (oh yeah), running to the end of the block and back and coming home to lay on the floor and huff and pant and be sure I was dying. Yeah, not a fairytale story.
I was a gymnast but turns out once you hit 13 they tell you you’re getting too old for the sport and stick you in a league that is the equivalent of a cow being put out to pasture. I loved gymnastics but it got to the point where it wasn’t fun anymore. Hours and hours spent in the gym. After school. Meets on the weekends. Pressure from coaches. I was too young to want to do something that wasn’t fun and so after several, promising years of competing, I quit.
In college, my best friend and roommate ran and I would often attempt to go on runs with her. Haha. She was kind enough to wait for me at the tops of the hills. I even got a crazy idea at one point in college that I wanted to be able to run 10 miles (again inspired by my friend who had recently done the same), so I started a ‘training plan.’ And I stuck to every workout. For 2 weeks. I made it up to 6 miles and somehow the workouts fizzled and my plan went to hell and 10 miles was a dream that bit the dust.
After college (and lots of beer drank and pounds gained), I dabbled in running again. I started couch to 5k probably 3 times in the 2 years immediately following college. I just hadn’t found my motivation yet but I kept picking it back up again.
In the fall of 2010, my life changed. My parents separated. My grandmother went in for routine surgery to remove an ovarian cyst but instead they found cancer in her ovaries and intestines. My parents got back together (briefly before separating again and ultimately divorcing). My dad had a heart attack. My life was in upheaval.
Ovarian cancer does not have the visibility or money for research that other cancers have. It’s also one of the most deadly because it often doesn’t show any symptoms until the cancer is in stage 3 or 4. I knew I wanted to try to help in some way but I wasn’t sure how. I knew some people ran races to raise money and so I started to look into it. Originally I wanted to find a race for ovarian cancer research but couldn’t find any near me. Finally I decided to run a half marathon. Gilda’s Club is a cancer support community and they do a training/fundraising program every year for the Country Music Half Marathon. My coworker had done it for several years. I found my plan!
I made sure before training started that I could comfortably run 3 miles. This may have been the only time I ever actually got to the end of Couch to 5k without crashing and burning somewhere around that week where you go from run/walk intervals to running 20 solid minutes.
Turns out that having a goal, a plan, and accountability were just the ingredients I needed to actually keep running! I followed the training plan Gilda’s Club provided to a T. Literally. I did not waver. Every week I was continually amazed that I could actually add another mile to my distance. I watched my previous distance PR (10k) fade into the past as I hit 7, 8, 9, and ultimately 10 miles. I was hooked on that feeling of accomplishment. I remember going out for a 9 mile run by myself one Saturday because I missed the group run. I followed the group’s route and vividly remember fist pumping as I crossed the big, chalk “8” on the sidewalk because I knew I was actually going to do it-run 9 miles!
I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon somewhere around 2:16. It was brutal. I had only trained up to 10 miles as the plan specified and I really felt it in those last 3 miles. The Country Music Marathon is rough as it is-hilly as hell, and with a date in late April, the weather is unpredictable. When I crossed the finish line, I can bet you that I didn’t think I’d ever run another one. The next day I was itching to beat my time. Oh, running.
Since then, I’ve run
8 10 11 and counting half marathons (this thing is hard to keep updated!) and 2 full marathons. I’m training with a coach and have loved the journey. I have run times and paces I never would’ve dreamed back in 2010/2011 but I still have a long way to go.