The Boston Marathon was over two weeks ago, but I am still finding myself nostalgic for the race and the days leading up to the race. It was the culmination of so many great running/life experiences over the last few years that I just feel like I have to record it somewhere before the vividness fades; before the joys get swallowed up in the rigors of life; before the lessons learned are less perspicuous. But, before writing my Boston recap, I feel like I first need to give some back story to how I found myself there. People often ask me, “Have you always been a runner?” I suppose I should say yes, however, I haven’t always been a consistent runner, and I only recently discovered the limitations that I have been putting on my running for years. When I was younger, I ran the 400m sprint for my middle school track team. That was a long race for me then. At that time in my life, I detested running farther than about 400m. I was not a long-distance runner. I didn’t have the same work ethic back then either. I drove my track coach insane. She was always talking about my potential, but she could never light a fire under me during running practice. I was fast with minimal effort and I was okay with that. Then. I ultimately dropped track for the tennis team in high school and didn’t really discover that I had a love for distance running until I was in college. Even then, I started out not running that far–about an hour a day, at a comfortable speed.
There is this era of my life that started sometime after I started having children in 2004 and ended when my youngest was 2, six years later, that I really didn’t run or exercise that much at all. My children gave me all the exercise I felt I could handle in a day at that time. In 2010, after the excruciating loss of my fourth child in my second trimester, I was rescued from a pretty deep depression by returning to running–it saved me in so many ways and, five years later, continues to as I go through the ups and downs of this thing we call life. I’m not really a glass half-empty sort of person, but have discovered that without physical exercise, I can find myself spiraling into depression quite easily. We all have our demons we must confront in life. Running helps me beat this one. When I first started running again in 2010, I was a 10-minute miler. I had no real goals for speed or distance at this time. I was just running to run. I was running to find joy in living. Those of you who have been there, know what I am talking about. I struggled with knee pain when I first started running again. I visited an orthopedist who told me to strengthen my quads, ice my sore knees after running, and try different shoes. I did all these things. I doubted I would ever get past the pain; that I would ever run without some physical discomfort, but after a time, my quads did get stronger, I found the right shoes, and my knee pain went away and hasn’t returned since. It took persistence to get me on the other side of pain, but I did it.
My husband, who has never really loved running, ran the St. George Marathon in October of 2010, and I was so impressed by his accomplishment. He inspired me. (So many inspired me back then. They didn’t know it, but they did.) But, he inspired me on a daily basis and competed regularly in triathlons testing and pushing his limits. He never pushed me to up my exercise efforts or to compete as he was, but he silently inspired me by his example of healthy, active living.
Fast forward to November 6, 2010, when I participated in my first half-marathon–The Loveland, Colorado, Heart of the Rockies Half Marathon–with some friends that had encouraged me to sign up. I found an 11-week training plan online and followed it to the letter. I finished with a 9:55 per mile average (a 2:10 minute race), a couple minutes behind my husband, but the race left me wanting…wanting more from myself. The story continues with my next entry: A Season of Mud Runs