Monday, August 19, 2013

"I'm NOT a runner"

...but I run.

My family will tell you, I was not a born runner. My parents both run. My brother runs. My brother did cross country and track in middle school and high school. My family would go for family runs when I was growing up. Me? Oh I didn't go because I was content to sit on the couch. I wasn't a "runner" (I thought), so I didn't go. I have bad knees, that got worse when I ran a lot. I got side cramps so bad that it just wasn't fun. I could only run so fast because well, I'm 5'2" on a good day, which makes for some short strides. In my head, I just was the odd man out in my running family. I was ok with that...

...until I wasn't ok with that anymore.

When I got to college I realized I needed to do something to get exercise. I decided to give running another shot because, well, that's "what adults do to stay in shape" (thank you to my parents for modeling some form of exercise that adults do to stay in shape!) So I started running. My knees still gave me trouble if I picked up my mileage too fast. I got side cramps, until I ran through them and they started lasting shorter and shorter periods until I just didn't get them anymore. I learned it didn't matter how fast I ran, as long as I ran. The more I just ran, the faster I became.

Running became my outlet in college. I was a giant stress ball in college (...ok maybe I still am), but when I was running, I would feel free from the reality of school. My all time favorite thing to do was to run in the fall and winter, when the air was crisp, snow on the ground or leaves changing color. I would close my eyes (with the exception of a tiny sliver just to see the step or two ahead of me). The air would be cold, but the sun would be on my face. The peace and beauty on those runs made me fall in love with the sport.

I am now a sporadic runner. I go through periods where I run a lot. And periods where I'm doing other forms of exercise. But I always try to stay in good enough shape to be able to go out for a 3-4 mile run from time to time, even when I'm not in one of my running phases. As some of you maybe read, in January and February of this year I ran two half marathons without training. They went well. And I absolutely LOVE the environment of a race.

I decided a couple weeks ago to run another half marathon. My parents offered to take Mckenna for a weekend, so Ronnie and I could get away. So I found a race in San Diego...figured I could double-dip, a weekend away and a race. I have been working out 6 days a week doing our HIIT classes, but I haven't really been running, with the exception of a few long runs while on vacation, and a couple short ones here and there. I was a little nervous about how it would go. The two I did earlier this year I hadn't trained, but my mom and I went into them planning to run/walk them, and we did really well. So that upped the pressure for this one. I couldn't do WORSE (thank you, ego, for that pressure). I mentally wanted to break 2 hours. I had come close each half I had done in the past (2:09, 2:04, 2:03). But I didn't know if it was doable.

Well come race day, I let my pride and mind carry me. I felt good after the first mile or two, so I sped up. I started a little faster than I had planned, but decided to go for it. "It's just 2 hours," I thought to myself. "You can stand a lot of tiredness and pain for just 2 hours." So I pushed. I felt surprisingly awesome. I finished in 1:51:02. I was shocked. I never thought I could do it. I'm not a runner.

What's the point of my story? It's that runners are rarely born. Runners are made. If you told my parents 10 years ago that I'd run 3 half marathons in a year, by choice, they would have laughed at you. If you told me I'd love running 13.1 miles, I would have laughed at you. It's never too late to take up a sport. Runners aren't some specific group of people with a special gift. Runners are people who lace up their sneakers and hit the pavement, regardless of speed, distance, or skill.

I'll leave you with some pictures from the race...Look at them, and then...GO RUN, you runner you!

 About 6 miles in, I was just happy to see a face I recognized!

 I'm in all ninja.

Right after getting back to the car...That's my "I'll send my parents a picture, but who can take a serious self portrait?" face!
Back at the room post race - who has two index fingers and ran a half under 2 hours? This girl!

Because who can take a lot of serious pictures? Not me!

For anyone that cares - this is my race according to MyRunKeeper (you always run longer than just 13.1 in a half since you are weaving around people, etc. and 13.1 is the shortest possible distance on the course)

For anyone who cares - my splits. In case you're wondering why mile 9 was so fast...I thought it was mile 11. Talk about a major buzzkill when I realized I was just at 9 vs. 11.