About three years ago I did not run. I mean, I never ran. The most I had ever run and my most significant run was one mile back in eighth grade. I got winded running down the block after my kids. My husband laughed at my running form. Seriously. I was always fairly fit and active. I enjoyed other forms of exercise, just not running.
What changed that? I started going to a bootcamp class at the YMCA with my husband. As part of the class we had to run laps around a dinky little indoor track. I mean, this track is tiny. You have to run 19 times around to run one mile. We had to do 3, maybe 4 laps around this track at a time. I hated it. But what I hated more was the fact that I was so horrible at it!
So during the winter holiday break from YMCA classes I decided to work on my running. I used a Couch to 5K app on my iPhone and made it my goal to run a 5K race the following Spring. So that is how, at the age of 42, I became a runner. I ran countless laps around that tiny track. Eventually I was brave enough to take it outside.
I am a person that enjoys structure and I am extremely goal oriented. Running was perfect for me. You follow a plan, you set goals, you get feedback.
You may be wondering how that first 5K went. I set the goal to run a sub 30 minute 5K. When I ran the race I did not have a good idea how fast I could run it. My husband, who had run races before, was gracious enough to pace me. Wow, did he push me. I thought my heart would explode! I stopped for water because I figured that was what I should do. I would later learn never to stop for water at a 5K or 10K race. It’s hard to drink water when you are running! My final time? 30:03. I blame that 3 seconds on that water stop!
I enjoyed training for the 5K so much that I signed up for my first half marathon before I actually raced the 5K. In retrospect, if I had been more patient I probably would have enjoyed my first half experience much more. But what did I know?
I learned a lot that first year. I think as a beginning runner the most important thing to know is that you don’t need to run fast. Any running will make you a better runner, and slowing down will help your body adjust to running. I learned this the hard way when I experienced shin pain early on. I was running every day at that point, about 2-3 miles as hard as I could. I slowed it down and ran every other day and I was pain free.
In the winter of 2013 I debated running a marathon in 2014. I never considered running a full marathon a “bucket list” item or something that I had to do once, no matter how long it took. If I was going to run one then I would fully commit to the training and run it to my best ability. I decided to focus on the half marathon distance and build up my mileage base for a possible full marathon in 2015.
I was on the mailing list for the Chicago Marathon and I received an e-mail for the registration lottery. I entered the lottery, partly on a whim. I figured if I got in, then it was fate telling me that I should run a marathon. Yes, both my husband and I got in. So I was on for a full marathon in October of 2014! And not just any marathon, but one of the six World Marathon Majors and the second largest marathon in the United States.