Growing up my mom was a runner. She ran races and my dad and I often went to watch. I remember going with and watching but I had no desire to run no matter how hard my mom tried to get me to join her. It wasn’t for me, or so I thought.
I Was a High School Runner
Fast forward to the summer before my sophomore year of high school. My friend Nathalie showed up at my door and asked if I wanted to join the cross country team. In order to qualify as a team at our city championships we had to have 5 girls cross the finish line. I decided to join the team despite never running & currently competing in gymnastics.
Between ankle injuries and mental games I had a rough cross country experience in high school. I loved my teammates, loved going to meets but I never broke the PR that I set at my very first race my sophomore year… 28:10.
My junior and senior year I decided to join the track team as a thrower but continued to run cross country in the fall. My gymnastics career had ended due to way too many injuries. I loved throwing shot put and discus so much that I went on to do it for a year in college. In the mean time I went for my senior year of cross country and fought through my ankle injuries yet again. By the time the city championships came around I was in a boot and debating surgery on my ankle. Needless to say I was pretty much done with running.
Every year or so after college I would decide I wanted to run a 5k again for a short period of time. My desire to do it would last a week or so and I would ultimately give up and go about my life again. In 2008 I got to watch Nathalie finish the Chicago Marathon. You would think that would motivate me to get my butt in gear and it did for about two weeks.
Sometimes It Takes Little Eyes Watching You
Fast forward to February 1, 2014. My son was about to turn 1 and I was “fighting” against my best friend Jess in a fitness competition at work. It was a friendly competition but we were both determined to beat each other.
Due to a snow storm I didn’t make it to my normal gym. I didn’t really like the elliptical at this other gym so I decided to hop on the treadmill and see what happened. I ran for 16 minutes and completed about 1.25 miles. Ironically 15 minutes later I got a text from Jess that she too had decided to try and run that day. Neither of us had told the other ahead of time that we were going to run.
If you would’ve told either of us that day that later that year we would complete a half marathon we probably would’ve laughed at you…and then eaten more cupcakes.
Each day I started adding a little more time and distance to my runs. Since Jess and I were competing, we would often lie to each other about what runs we did for the day. While we laughed about it then, it got us both running longer distances knowing that the other was not telling the full truth. From there a good pair of running shoes and some new running clothes were necessary.
Just a few months later, I ran my first 5k in 10 years April 10, 2014 and I beat my PR set my first race in high school by a minute.
Then It Changed My Life
For the rest of the summer I found joy in running 5k’s again. From glow runs to runs through the trails we ran in high school I was always looking for something new. By the end of December 2014 I had run 9 5k races, a five mile race & completed my ultimate goal of the year.
A group of my friends and I decided to set the goal and run a half marathon by the end of October. 40 pounds down total & 200ish training miles later I crossed the finish line. I did it with some of my close friends by my side and my family cheering me on and it was incredible. While we learned a lot of lessons from the half marathon it was an overall great experience. I loved it so much, I decided to do it again at the Glass City Half Marathon this past April with my cousin.
Running wasn’t just my workout time. It quickly became my 30 (40, 50, 120?) minutes a day to clear my mind. Three days a week I run on a treadmill at 5am. It is my 30-40 minutes to clear my head and plan my day. I’m the first to admit the days that I don’t run I tend to be a little more grumpy.
When I finished high school if you told me I would enjoy running one day, I would’ve laughed at you. I used to make fun of every one who posted about running on Facebook. Ironically I am that person now. I might be annoying but if I could convince even one person to lace up a pair of shoes with my posts, then it’s worth it to me. To be honest, I never pictured myself as the person to get competitive again in races. Now I find myself wanting to break my PR (or get mad when the course goes a little long and I technically break it but it doesn’t show). I was more than convinced my running career ended with my ankle in high school.
Everyone is different and I realize that running is not for everyone. I love hearing stories from friends who decide to try running and get hooked, but I understand that not everyone will. I resisted it for a long time, just ask my mom.
Just over a year ago I was looking for something to simply get in shape, I had no idea how much it would change my life.
I became a runner.