When I was fourteen, my friend put on her running shoes and told me to go jogging with her. I had tried to run around a track at the local gym but wasn’t doing it right. When you run in gym class, you tend to sprint and that’s what I was doing. I would go one time around and think “no way can I do this!” Going jogging with my friend, I could easily keep up and we continued around the block a few times.
I had accompanied my dad to a number of Cleveland Revco Marathons when I was really young. [I wish I could say it was to watch him which would be way cool, but it was to sit with him in a slow-moving van that assisted with communications via ham radio.] Anyways, I was introduced to this long competitive challenge long ago.
When we got a treadmill after that jog at fourteen, I could run slowly. By the summer, I was doing three miles in thirty minutes which seemed fine with me. It wasn’t until the winter of 1996 that I went outside and went for a long run. And I just kept on going. I had no idea that I was capable of doing that.
I tried to get into running and had a little bit of a routine. By college, I was running about three days a week. That was first semester. Second semester, I failed miserably and came home after freshmen year at 144 pounds. That’s the biggest I have ever been. [I now weigh around 110 – have for almost ten years. And even though my ex boyfriend saw my weight on my license and made some obnoxiously rude comment, the last time I went to the doctor, I was 110. Thank you very much! Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I was heavy for a second. But I am really tiny. Not gonna lie. So it surprises some.]
The weight came off and by senior year of college, I was about 120 pounds and wore a size two. I moved to Boston and ran most mornings before work with Scout. This was more for Scout than me. She was only one and was home alone all day. I thought it was very important that she get the run before she was alone all day. By the spring of 2003, I was inspired to train for a marathon after watching the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day.
Let me tell you about the Boston Marathon. It is one of the ultimate marathons because unlike most marathons, you have to qualify for it [unless you do one of those “Team in Training” type of fundraisers.] For example, if I wanted to participate in it, I would have to run a previous marathon at about an 8.40 pace. [Dad – you would need to complete one at a 10.8 minute pace, so you should really consider it. Just saying]. So, I watched the marathon and said, “I can do this” and then I signed up for one and started training.
I chose the Columbus [Capital of Ohio] marathon because my sister lived there, the slogan was “fast, flat and fun” [that’s a total lie, by the way], and I knew it would be an easy drive for my parents to come and watch. The weather was supposed to be decent at that time of the year [October] and it gave me enough time to train. And train I did. With absolutely no support from anyone, including my place of employment, [who asked me if I was running a marathon both days because they wanted me to work on Saturday – “Um, hello?”]
I trained alone. In fact, for my final long run, I ended up posting an ad on craigslist to find people who would run with me because I didn’t want to run that entire distance alone [too boring]. I didn’t care about my time at all. I just wanted to do a marathon. I met two strangers and we did the run and never saw each other again. After that final run, I had sprained my foot and injured my knee and couldn’t put any weight on it. Three weeks out from the marathon, the doctor told me to lay off the running and I should be ok.
I flew to Columbus and did my very first [and perhaps only] marathon and I hated it. I hated the training and I hated that nobody from Boston seemed to understand it. But whatever. Different times. Different situations. My parents were there and they were proud and my favorite sister [just kidding!] was there for me. And I slept incredibly well that night. I forgot to put my chip in – oh well. I just wanted to complete a marathon.
After that awful experience, I didn’t like running. I ran one more small race in Boston that March. Last minute, three sisters asked me to run with them so we could form a team. And we actually came in third place and won some money.
I took up running again in 2005. I was then living back in my hometown in Cleveland, Ohio. And that is when I started running six days a week. I got fast. I liked it. And that’s when I began to wonder why more people do not do aerobic exercise. And that is when it began to baffle me.
I mostly ran at the gym but when the weather broke, I started running outside. Cars failed to go around me and I ended up giving that finger in the middle to a lot of large SUVs. I was also alone on the roads. I would try to run places – like to people’s houses, coffee shops, etc. But where I was living didn’t seem conducive to this. And I found it really annoying. I don’t like driving somewhere to go for a run. It seems sort of pointless.
I decided to do another race without caring about the time or training. I had raced in a few of those Komen races – but those don’t count. [At least not to me]. In 2008, I did a five miler in forty minutes. I didn’t train or anything. I mean, I ran almost thirty miles a week – I didn’t care if I won it. Then I realized I was improving. And I really liked it.
I had recently visited my sister and brother-in-law in Madison, Wisconsin. And all I could notice while visiting them was how many people I saw when I was out running. And how the city was laid out so well that there were running paths absolutely everywhere. And they were incredibly utilized. Running in Madison was way more fun than in Cleveland.
And this was one of the key reasons I moved. [Besides a few others]. So I moved to Madison right around the time I started this blog and got my route figured out. I changed it up a few times. I am down to one I have been doing for about two years. And I still really enjoy running alone because it is my time for introspection. It keeps me thin and feeling great.
And that one day in May of this year, when I was out running and saw signs for the Madison half and asked myself why I wasn’t doing it and went and signed up and ran it the next day without training for it under two hours –[ thank you very much] is completely credited to my obsession with running six days a week.
So when I met my current boyfriend [can you keep up?] we talked about running on our first date and I discovered that while I thought I was extremely regimented with my running, he is even moreso. And he is extremely competitive. So I started running faster.
I signed up for the Berbee Derby and wanted to break my PR. Now, for those of you who are into running, you know that the night before a race, you don’t sleep well. I have those dreams – you know the ones where when you get to the race and it already started? They are actually nightmares. So I slept horribly and when the race started, I didn’t feel it. I told myself, “F it and just do what you need to do.” I came in ninth in my age group which I was happy about at a 7.44 pace, but not at all breaking a PR. Boo Just not a great race for me. But there will be more.
I can now run a mile in under seven minutes and it just makes me feel more competitive. I enjoy a good, fast run and nothing compares to the fabulous feeling when you are done. I have absolutely no pain [joint problems, aches, etc] from running. I highly recommend it. Especially if you are trying to lose a little weight.
I had four other close girlfriends run in the Berbee Derby, along with my cousin’s boyfriend, my 69 year old uncle and my boyfriend [who came in fifth out of 1,543 runners] and it is so nice to have a group of people who get running and appreciate it as much as I do. There will be more races to come.
I'm just getting started.