Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Evolution of a Runner

Me:  "I'm not meant to be a runner."

There was a time, in the not so distant past, that I would say that statement.  And I would say it often.  My  husband would try to get me to run with him, and I would go out for a short while and come home with some kind of ache or pain.  And I'd give up.  I tried running when we lived in the apartments in South Charleston. I tried running when we lived in our condo in Hunters Ridge.  And each time, I'd last about a week or two and give up, with an adamant declaration of "I'm not meant to be a runner."

And then one Sunday afternoon in March 2009, I was home alone and bored.  It was a beautiful day and I didn't want to waste it sitting around inside.  For some reason, and to this day I don't know what made me decide to do it, I thought I'd go for a run.  I was Forrest Gump.

"That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run."   - Forrest Gump

I put on some old running shoes and headed out the door.  I made it just past the neighbor's house before I was out of breath and winded.  I remember thinking, "Really? That's all the farther I can run? I can do better than that!" So I tried again.  And again. And again.  I made it around the neighborhood loop, alternating between running and walking from property line to property.  I don't know how long it took me, and at the time I didn't know how far it was.  But it seemed to take a long time and it felt really far. (And the hill - it about killed me.)  But I wanted to do it again.

I don't know why that particular run on that particular day was any different than all the other times I had given running a try.  But something about it awakened the competitive spirit in me.  I wanted to be able to do better - to run farther and be faster.  So I kept running.  There have been highs and lows and times when I felt like I should give up.  But I kept running.

In the almost 4 years between that March Sunday and now, I've kept running.  I've struggled and I've triumphed. I've good runs and I've had bad runs.  And I've transformed.  To date, I've run in 18 5k's, 1 4.5 mile trail race (walk), 2 8k's, 2 10k's, 1 8 mile trail race, 2 15k trail races, 3 half marathons, and 1 virtual half marathon.  The girl who swore she wasn't meant to be a runner became a runner.

"Now for some reason, what I was doing seemed to make sense to people...  Somebody later told me it gave people hope.  Now I don't know anything about that but..."  - Forrest Gump

Somewhere along the way, and I really don't know how this happened, I also apparently became an inspiration.  That's not a designation I'm particularly comfortable with, because I don't feel like I've really done anything particularly inspirational, other than just run.  I just know that I made one "wouldn't it be neat if..." comment.  And that comment started a whirlwind of change in three of my best friends.

Like me, these women never thought they could run, never thought they would ever want to run, and never thought that they ever would run.  In short, they felt they weren't meant to be runners either.  But, a change happened, and three more "I'm not meant to be a runner's" became runners.


As I sit here counting down the final 2.5 weeks until I get to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with two of these women, I am amazed.  Amazed at the transformation in them; amazed in the transformation in me.  I have more self-confidence. More courage. More strength. More determination. More everything.

Who would've ever thought that something that boils down to simply putting one foot in front of the other could be so powerful? So life changing??

Me:  "I AM a Runner."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Race Report - Winter Series 10k

This is the second year that I've participated in the Winter Series races.  While it's been a little chilly for some of the races, it has never been what I would call wintry.  Until today.  Today the Winter Series lived up to its name. There was snow.  And ice.  And cold.  And did I mention ice?

I knew conditions were going to be a bit sketchy when they issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the weekend.  It snowed most of the day yesterday and this morning there were some flurries with off and on light snow showers.  But the road in the neighborhood was clear, and I really wanted my purple hoodie.  I figured it couldn't be too bad out there so I put on some warm clothes and hit the road for Kanawha City.

I got there early, got signed in, got my hoodie (which I just might be wearing as I type this report - love these things!), and waited for the race to start.  The part of the course you could see at the start looked bad - snow covered with slushy parts.  I had a feeling the race was going to be interesting.  Since I had strict instructions to stay upright from my Disney Princess running partners, I ditched any time goals I had and set my sights on just finishing. And on not falling.

As it turns out, the start line was pretty much representative of the entire course. The conditions the whole way alternated between snow covered ice and slush (with some clear spots scattered here and there; but those were few and far between.) I started slow, and kept a nice but careful pace until just before the 2 mile marker.  That's where I started slipping and sliding.  With thoughts of "stay upright" running through my head, I switched to a walk at that point.  I played it safe the rest of the race: running when I felt safe and steady on my feet; walking when I didn't (which, unfortunately for the part of me that wanted to finish fast, was most of the time).

While I'm not very fast right now (even on good weather days) I know that I'm capable of going faster than I did today.  But instead of feeling down as person after person went by me, I told myself to run (or walk) my own race and that Disney was way more important than today.   It wasn't worth it to run hard, fall, hurt myself, and not be able to run in 3 weeks (just 3 more weeks!!)  So I kept myself occupied by singing along with my Disney playlist and focused on staying upright.

You  might be thinking, after reading that last paragraph, that I had a bad day.  But I didn't.  I didn't wimp out and stay home (as I have done with more of my training runs lately than I really like to admit.)  I braved the elements.  I stayed upright.  I got 6 more miles into the bank for Disney Princess training.  So it's all good.  :-)

Winter Series Race #3 - 10k
Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013
Finish place - 271 (according to my popsicle stick)
Finish time - 1:17:42 (garmin)
Avg Pace per Mile - 12:32 (garmin)