The cool thing about runners is that we all have such different journeys. We are a tribe of people who wake up early and take to the streets to pound our minds clear and our muscles strong but it’s not like we were all born that way. And that makes our tribe- our unity in our love of run- so much cooler and more interesting. So sappy sounding but so damn true.
My journey: as a kid I was lucky enough to have an incredible mom and awesome siblings so we never ( literally never) sat around watching TV but instead we’re always doing stuff around the yard and house. Constantly running around. So while I never was on a team or played a sport, I was super in shape. I kicked ass in gym class. Ok, I had NO AIM whatsoever and couldn’t throw a softball more than 6 feet but I could throw a spiral with a football, chase down the ball in kickball, loved running, and was crazy competitive(!!) in floor hockey.
My super-in-shapeness started to slip away in high school and college. I was sitting around studying more and running around less. My growth spurt had stopped but my love of eating had not. Starting freshmen year of college, I knew I wanted to get back in shape so I started running. But as any starting runner should be, I was a bit delusional. I would run once or twice around the block a couple times a week. That’s less than a mile. I was pretty hard core in my mind though because I ran in any weather. Including -22 degrees. Which led to a popped eardrum. Nastiness but hey, badass.
But that only lasted a few months and then I would drop it for months and then pick it up again. When I took my required gym credit, I signed up for fitness walking, and was so envious of the “adventure running” class. And delusional me thought that I should switch to that class. Looking back, I can see that I never ever would have been able to keep up with their pace at that time. Now I would rock it. But then, no way! I ran so infrequently but awesomely still considered myself a runner. My fitness walking prof had run the Hartford Marathon that fall and when she talked about it, I said to my friend, “I could totally do that.” And I did, ten years later! But at the time, I was clueless to the amount of running it takes to be ready to run 26.2. But that cluelessness is what kept me going. What kept me slowly making progress.
When I graduated college and started teaching, two of my colleagues were runners – one a pretty fast racer and one who ran three miles on the treadmill each day. I remember telling her how I was running a mile each day most days of the week. I was so excited and she laughed at me for being excited over so few miles. But I kept on keeping on. I started running more and more. A couple years later, when going through a awful stressful time, I started running much more consistently. I ran steady through the winter, through the year. It was a freedom, an escape, a punishment of sorts. I started running longer.
A year or so later, running was something I did to avoid boredom. When the rest of my family was super busy, I would go running in the afternoon. My first long run- about 7 miles- happened because I wanted to see old rail trails that are about three miles from home. I knew about them but had never gone on them. So one afternoon I looked at a map and decided to run to them. Yea- that run involved pooping in the woods and LOTS OF WALKING. It was an adventure for sure. But I was excited and had a great story to tell. Saturday mornings then became my long run time- and over the years those runs slowly grew longer and longer. 12 miles. 15 miles. 18 miles. I was not training for anything. I was looking for adventure. I was looking for badassery. I had no phone and would run on roads that I didn’t know. I got lost on purpose and then found my way home. I had a paper map of my town and the surrounding towns and highlighted the roads I went on til the whole town was highlighted. I was slow but I could run far. That confidence led to signing up for a half marathon in town. A hilly and HARD half. Which I ran alone and told no one I ran. And I did that for a couple years. Along with 5ks with my bro and sis.
And then a big change. A big addition of awesomeness.
About four years ago, I started run commuting. I work 2.3 miles from home and I started running to and from work. All year. That obviously led to more miles. More consistency. And to PRs. Running home each day as fast as I could led to my 5k PR. I still run commute and will blog about it sometime. Because it seriously rocks. Everyone who can should.
Then came Hartford Marathon in 2014. Katie told me she was doing it and following a training plan. I signed up but followed no training plan. It was awesome! So much fun. My out of reach dream goal was to finish under 4:30 and we finished in 4:28 and had a blast. Which showed us our potential.
Then this past year: 2015, wow, what a year of running. From the Run the Edge 2015 in 2015 challenge to joining Oiselle Volee, to running NYC marathon, this past year has been a year of progress. A year of realizing that you have no clue what your limits are. A year of dreams. A year of treating myself as an athlete. Because that’s what I am. And that’s what I’m bringing into 2016.
My journey to this ownership of being an athlete has been long and slow but that’s what I think has allowed it to happen and what has allowed me to be inspired and motivated rather than burnt out.
This blog, while I hope it inspires other, is also about me processing where I am on this journey and what I can do to take me to where I want to go next. My goal is that in five or ten years I look back on this and once again see my progress. That I look back at this time now with a chuckle and think about how clueless and delusional I was about my potential and limits. Cuz my goal is to keep on crushing them.