I would never have called myself a runner before the age of 36. I recall an embarrassing moment in my required freshman PE class in college when we had to run a mile around the track & I could barely do it. I was 18 and couldn't run a mile!! I was active & in good shape, but I wasn't in good condition. In 2009, I got a wild hair and decided to do a sprint triathlon and trained for that. It involved a quarter mile swim, a 12 mile bike and a 5k run. I finished next to dead last, but damn it, I finished. I don't think I've swam a lap or ridden my bike since. I sort of enjoyed the running the most, but could barely finish a 5k. Fast forward to not quite 2 years ago. After seeing coworkers and my bestie train for and finish a half marathon, I began to get the idea that *I* could do that, and decided to make it a goal. It terrified me to think of running 13 miles...THIRTEEN! I joined a local running group based out of a Fleet Feet store. We had to do a time trial, and my time was a 12:30 minute mile...sluggish at best! But, I showed up week after week, put in the time during the week with short runs, gradually added mileage during long runs, and finished my first half marathon at an 11:20 min/mile pace. Slow & steady, but I was able to finish the race in a sprint with gas still left in the tank. I felt great! Since that time, I've finished 3 more half marathons and am training for my 5th half this April...the Rock & Roll Raleigh!
I have gained a tremendous respect for my body and its abilities during the past 2 years. It's amazing to crank out a 10 mile run before 9 AM on a Saturday and then go about my normal routine. I've learned a lot about endurance training, caring for my body & it's various aches. I'm more forgiving of my Mommy body, and more interested in seeing what it can achieve.
Last Saturday, on my long run, I was running with a 26 yr old single woman. She told me she was inspired by all the Moms in the group who come out and run half & full marathons. She thought it was amazing from a time standpoint, but more importantly was really excited about the positive role modeling we were doing for our kids. She shared that no one in her family were exercisers, and she hadn't been either prior to the past year. She said, "What a different path I might have had if I my parents had prioritized being active, set health goals and showed me what was possible."
I pondered this. Emerson & Liam have been able to see me finish 2 of my races. I have a post-race photo with Em that is one of my most treasured shots of us together. I'd like to think I am inspiring our kids to be active, set goals and showing them that anything is possible if you work for it.
But, that's not why I run. This is something that I do for *me*...it's the one selfish thing that I do. Running time is my time. I don't run with music in my ears. I enjoy listening to the sounds of nature, having time to think & process stuff without interruption, or chatting with fellow runners about whatever. I've met some great people in running groups, learned a lot from other runners, and been able to use big races as an excuse to have quality time with my bestie...race weekend = girl's weekend.
There are physical benefits...I sleep better when I run. I have no back pain when I run. I can eat (for the most part) what I want with less consequences. I mentally feel better when I run regularly. I'm more, um, regular when I run. I have more energy. I'm happier.
If you would have told my 18 year old self that I'd be a half marathoner in my 30's, I would have laughed in your face. It would have been unfathomable. In a way, running has made me more bold in terms of setting goals at work or in other areas in my life. I have more confidence.
Running has been one of the best things I've done for myself, and I hope to be able to do it for many more years to come.