I have always been a fairly fit person. In high school I played softball and volleyball. In college I took regular 2.2 mile brisk walks (my route from my home through the local park and back) and did weekly step aerobics classes. I even went on the occasional bike ride that started off as 4 miles but turned into 10. But I never ever considered running. In fact many years after graduation, a high school classmate of mine invited me to start running with him (he ran the Boston Marathon in 2007), but I balked at the idea and told him I would ride my bike beside him instead.
My husband and I were married in 2004, and as can happen to any married girl, I gained a few pounds. Now, I am not talking about 40 or 50 pounds or even 30 for that matter. I gained about 15 pounds from 2004 to 2005. I was still fairly active during that time, joining the local rec center and still riding my bike, but I couldn't lose any weight. After a move across the state for education reasons, I found myself in this new town with a fantastic gym. I joined said gym and in early 2006 participated in a Health Challenge they were having. During this 12 week program, I changed my eating habits, incorporated strength training into my workouts and increased the cardio. I started tracking my heart rate and logged my meals in a food journal. I even started running on the treadmill. I remember how proud I was for running 15 minutes straight. I thought I was bad ass for going 15 whole minutes without stopping once! At the end of those 12 weeks, I lost a total of 17 pounds and 22 inches from various bits and pieces of me. Better yet, I felt so good. I ran my first 5K in May 2008 and loved the whole race experience so much I did another one that August. I took what I learned from the Health Challenge and continued to exercise, but even though I was changing up my routine, I felt like I needed to recharge. Lucky for me I won personal training sessions at my gym.
This personal trainer I "won" also happened to be a former Division I college cross country athlete. I remember telling him how I ran a 5K that year. Gosh, I must have sounded so silly, but he suggested I shoot for a 10K next. Well, I did and I actually ran that pretty fast -- a 9 minute/mile pace. (Hey, that's fast for me!) That year I also ran a 10 miler. He told me how the gym was forming a running club and thought I may enjoy training for a 25K. I was sold. That training started in January 2010 with the race being held in May. I was amazed at the progress I made during that time. Who was this girl running 10, 12, 15 mile training runs in the snow and cold? I don't think I know her. I can't say I crushed that 25K, but I was so proud that I finished. I went on to do a 10K from hell (actually it is my favorite race yet, you might have heard of it, The Camp Pendleton Mud Run with my superhero Muddy Runner) and a half marathon all within a month. I figured I trained this hard for this long why not run a marathon? So I did on 10-10-10, I ran the Chicago Marathon (that will be a post of its own someday).
I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I would be a distance runner. It is still kind of weird thinking how far I have come. Do I enjoy it all the time? No. In fact I so desperately want to love it like so many of you love it, but more times than not, I just don't. Why do I still do it? Because I know after the first 3 miles of any distance run it will get easier and after completing a double digit run, I feel I can accomplish anything!