Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Am I A Runner?

Running. I've never considered myself a runner. I would never say "I'm going out for a run". I was more of a "wogger" - I'd jog, walk, jog, walk...I was close to being a runner in my mid-twenties. I'd go out and jog around the neighborhood of East Hill in Pensacola when I was home, or jog on the treadmill at one of the hotels on a layover if I was flying. I never took it serioulsy. It was something to do, and a way to burn off calories, as I was all about body image back then ("omg, I ate a whole meal last night, I'm going to get HUGE!"...yea, it was bad). Then I got married, and had the girls. I bought the jogging stroller, and did take the girls out in it a lot, but not running. Just for long walks. I LOVE being outdoors, and I do love being in shape. Can't say I was in great shape, but I stayed active.

There are several reasons as to why I suddenly took an interest in running. I watched as a couple friends, who weren't in great shape, took up running out-of-the-blue. I listened as they talked about mileage, pace, endurance...I was in awe of their excitement and their will to get better and better. I saw their pictures of reaching the finish line at a race, and wearing the medals they had worked so hard for. When was the last time I had reached a goal like that? When was the last time I had a challenge I worked hard for? I started getting on my treadmill more, and ran around the neighborhood whenever the weather was nice. Every once in a while, I would pass one of my neighbors/friends - one of the people that had taken up running out-of-the-blue and was now a half-marathoner. We would talk about running whenever we saw each other and she was very encouraging. One day, she suggested I run a 5k, even found one for me and told me she would run it as well. Fine...I'll do it. I was only doing 2.25 miles on the treadmill, but I was certain I was running over 3 miles on my route around the neighborhood. It had to be 3 miles because I was panting, sweating gallons and about to fall over from exhaustion when I reached my house - surely, it was an insane distance I was running.


Ray and I drove my neighborhood route one day and I was in shock when the odometer read "2.23 miles". That's it? That's the distance that was making me so tired and wasted? I was completely deflated. But not deterred. I started listening and reading more about how to run, how to pace yourself, how to build up endurance, finding the right shoes and clothes, etc. I think a major turning point was buying a Garmin - how else was I going to know when I finally reached that magical 3 miles? Several running friends told me running with a Garmin would change everything, and it did. I would go for a run, look down and see my distance - I ran that far?! Next run - I ran that far?!! Next run - omg, I ran THAT far?!!! I was so amazed, I would take pictures and send them to Ray.

I began to run that magical distance (in my head) of 3 miles on a regular basis, and got to the point where I could do it comfortably. The beginning of March, I ran that 5k and had fun doing it. I had fun running. And I was running! The greatest feeling was that I had challenged myself to do something, and I did it. I face challenges everyday - be a good parent, a good wife - and I love that, but challenges in running are physical and mental in a different way. A way that I haven't been challenged in years, and it's exciting. I never, never ever, thought I could run 3.1 miles, yet after that race and the thrill of reaching my goal, I began to dream bigger. My friend mentioned a half marathon one day and I laughed. As much as I started to dream bigger, I was thinking more like, oh say 5 miles. A half marathon is 13.1 miles...you have to run over two hours (at my speed)...well, maybe. I decided to make it my goal for 2012 - I would say goodbye to my thirties with a half.

But then...


I found myself going farther and farther, building up endurance and feeling great while doing so. I began to incorporate all the nutritional tips I was reading, drinking water, proper stretches - it truly blew me away that all this work and research was paying off. When I had my first run that lasted over an hour, I couldn't believe it!! That was something I thought I would never achieve - starting out in January, my 2.23 mile route took me half an hour, and I ended utterly exhausted. Several running friends encouraged me again to try a half...I decided I could do it, and not have to wait for 2012.

Knowing we were going to move to Indianapolis, my neighbor recommended a half out here in October, and when I read about it, it sounded like the perfect first half marathon race. The race is capped at 6,000 entrants - still a lot of people, but not the 50,000+ some races have! I began my official training four weeks ago, and have logged over 60 miles. I have good runs and bad runs. Lots of mental sabotage on those bad runs...need to stop that. I'm keeping my eye on the prize...crossing that finish line at the half. I have to say I'm proud of myself for how far I've come, and I'm still in awe that I'm even here and entertaining the idea of a half. Another challenging aspect of this race is doing it by myself. I LOVE running by myself, omg, it's the best! I love being out in nature, listening to my music or just being lost in thought, and I always end up saying a prayer because I feel so blessed when I run. Good or bad run, I come home peaceful and thankful. But, the actual race part of running, not to mention the culture of runners, is still so new to me and I tend to feel like a poser. I'm nervous about the logistics of the race, and would love to have an experienced runner there to show me around! I'm not going to let that stop me though - I'm 38, and it's about time I stopped being so self-conscious and insecure. I guess that'll be Challenge #2  on Oct. 15!

So yes, Oct. 15 is the big day and it's always in my mind. Running has become so important to me - physically (with all that I eat, I must run!), and mentally (free therapy, no joke) - and I'm so thankful for all the people that inspired me, even if they don't know that they did, and encouraged me. I look forward to that day I put that "13.1" sticker on my car!

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