May 4, 2008 I ran my 1st half-marathon at age 18.
May 3, 2009 I ran my 2nd half-marathon on my home turf.
One week ago today, October 17, 2010, I ran my 3rd half-marathon with 20,000 others.
That would be my iPod on my hip & camera in my hand.
I never knew that the decision I made to join the cross country team my junior year of high school would change my life forever. My liking for running sprouted as a teen, though since my schedule was already occupied by dance, gymnastics, and swim team, my hobby of running remained on the back burner for a couple years. After five years of competitive swimming, I quit cold turkey. Suddenly, I had the time to run with my school’s team. Even though I have many fond memories of swimming – meets, a.m. practices, and traveling – the two seasons I ran XC are certainly the highlight of my high school years.
When I graduated high school and moved away to college, dancing [competitively] got left behind at home. That only meant one thing: more running! I got involved with the Walk Jog Run Club on campus, and running quickly became a part of my daily routine as I tried to avoid the Freshman 15. My first semester of college, I met a girl by the name of Courtney. Little did I know, she would become my devoted running buddy, and a best friend.
With the support from our tremendous running club founder/coach/mentor, we signed up to run our first half-marathon together at the end of our freshman year. We trained together side-by-side for 12-weeks straight. And just as our shirts said, “13.1 miles… we are in this together”, we crossed the finish line of the Eugene Marathon hand-in-hand in 2 hours 4 minutes and 16 seconds. Our goal to complete a half-marathon [no walking allowed] was met. We felt accomplished, happy and fit.
Our sophomore year, the WJR Club didn’t have plans to participate in a half [or full] marathon, but that didn’t mean Courtney and I weren’t determined to run our second ‘alone’. Again, we trained day in and day out around our new territory. After another Spring semester of timely training, we traveled home the first weekend of May to run a picturesque half-marathon located within the Redwood groves at Avenue of the Giants State Park. With one half under our belts, we knew what to expect and made a goal of a sub 2 hour race. Though our training methods remained similar to the first, perhaps it was the additional year of pavement under our feet and larger calf muscle circumference that allowed us to finish in 1:59:13.
Over a year went by without racing a half. Courtney and I both had our fingers crossed we’d be able to run the infamous Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco at some point in our lives. It turned out we got drawn from the lottery our first time entering, so 2010 was gonna be the year! Now at different universities, training for #3 was going to be very different. No more 90-minute runs together talking about roommate drama, long-distance relationships, exams, awful jobs, and homesickness. Training for half #3 was so different that I was skeptical it would even allow me to run a better race. I did something right though – maybe even 2 or 3 things – as I finished feeling like a true long distance runner, and an empowered athlete in 1:43:21.
You live run and you learn: a 1/2 dozen things I learned from 1/2 #3.
1. Training solo is possible… though, not nearly as enjoyable.
2. One can adequately train indoors for an outdoor race.
3. Strength train for a leaned and toned, “runner’s body”. [i.e. May ‘08 v. October ‘10]
4. Speed and interval training is the secret to a PR.
5. Don’t fret the rest days. You are stronger than you think you are!
6. My heart has never loved an activity as much as running.
With 3 half-marathons under my blistered feet and thousands of miles of training, I think I’ve finally allowed the my true inner strength to surface, to “bloom”. I really do not think of myself as a highly-competitive person – I don’t run beat others – but a new flame has been lit inside of me. Let’s just say I am thinking about a sub 1:40 half-marathon… and then, and then… committing to those 26.2 miles :)
I don’t run races to finish first, second… or third. I run races because I’d rather wake up early on Saturday mornings to run 10 miles and eat banana pancakes than sleep in. I run races because it allows me to stay committed to my goal of living a healthy, fit life. I run races to bond with friends. I run races to experience new, beautiful places. I don’t run races for ‘free’ Tiffany & Co jewelry.
I run races to be… me.
* * *
After 13 weeks of training, I gave my body a break from enduring exercise this week. Actually, if it weren’t for my accident Tuesday evening, I probably would have clocked in a few more miles; though, I think a week of light workouts, sleeping in, and rainy rest days was exactly what my body ordered.
Tuesday: 1 mi. ITR… Urgent Care
Wednesday: 2 x 1 mi. ITR + 20-minute spin + strength training
Thursday: 22-minute run
Friday: 2 x 1 mi. ITR + 20-minute StairMaster + abs & stretching
Sunday: 2 x 1 mi. ITR + 20-minute StairMaster + strength training
I hope you all have enjoyed your weekend. How is it already Sunday Eve? Stay tuned for the giveaway winner announcement + a comforting, fall recipe.
What is your favorite race distance?
Any races in the near future for you?
What have you learned from running?