I run, but I don't call myself a runner. I actually hate running.
I don't get that elusive runners high that everyone seems to talk about, instead, I just get injury's. I've racked up thousands of dollars in doctors bills because of running related injuries. You would think that I have been running all my life, but I haven't. I only took up the sport about three years ago.
I ran my first 5k in celebration of my 30th birthday. I actually placed in the top 3 for my age division. After that race, I made friends with my local podiatrist and was in his care for about a year. I had some major foot issues (name your foot "itis" and I had it!), most of them occurring and flaring up because of running. I now wear custom orthodics. Sexy, right?!
Last year, I ran my first half marathon. I had major surgery just four months before the race, but was determined to train and run just to show myself that I could.
I ended up with a knee injury that slowed me down but I was determined to run. I will never forget the feeling as I ran through the streets of Tacoma. I would tear up when I would see little kids lining the streets with signs of encouragement for their moms. Husbands cheering and volunteers ringing bells and shouting out "you go girl". I ran with a feeling of pride that I could do this and at the end, I was thankful that I had.
I had the worst blister from my socks rubbing in my shoes from the rain and even lost a toe nail because of it. At that point, I felt like I could have taken on the title of "runner", but I didn't want to embrace it.
When winter rolls around, and the skies are dark and grey, I tend to hibernate. I stop running on a regular basis. I hate running on the treadmill. The thing that I hate the most about training for an endurance race, like a half marathon, is that it changes the way I work out.
I work out 4-5 days a week for around 1-2 hours a day. I do classes, I lift weights and I do cardio, mostly on the elliptical or the bike because it's easier on my knees. But when I train for a race, I have to focus on getting long runs in, getting short runs in, and generally just running.
Did I mention that I hate running?
This summer, I have a friend that had just come off of running and training for her fourth half marathon. She needed to squeeze in some longer runs on a weekly basis to keep her stamina up, and I told her I would like to join her. So we started running early every Saturday morning.
I went from not running at all, to running at least 12 miles a week. On Saturday we would fit in a long run together, and while we talked, the time passed quickly. We started with 5 miles the first week, then the next week we did 7.5. During the week, I warmed up at the gym with a 5k at least 3 days a week. Once I hit 7.5 miles, I had a crazy thought to run a half marathon again.
I ran 9 miles on my own the next week to see if indeed I was ready and then I signed up for a half marathon that was less than a month away. Crazy? Yep! I continued to train and after my last long training run of 11 miles, I felt great. I knew I was ready to run the Tacoma Narrows Half.
For some reason I had a goal for myself to complete a half marathon in less than 2 hours. I have no idea where I pulled that number from, or why I wanted to complete a race in that time, but I did. My first half marathon I crossed the finish line in 2:02. I was satisfied with my time, but knew there were a few things I could work on to shave off a few minutes (like start a bit faster and not take as much time at the water stations)...oh and not just come out of major surgery!
I started my second half marathon physically prepared, but not mentally prepared. Endurance running is very mental and I didn't prepare myself for that. I had a goal time in mind, but hadn't really trained any differently for this race to make me hit that goal time. I started off too fast (at times, I was running nearly 2 1/2 minutes faster than I trained), and I hit a wall. I was able to maintain that faster speed for about 8 miles of the course, and then I was spent.
I wanted to quit. I don't remember much about running the streets, what I do remember is the self talk I had to do to get myself moving every step of the way. As I came to the 11 mile mark, the two hour pacer started to move in front of me. The gal running next to me said "oh no you don't!" and I knew that I could either make the choice to pick up my pace, or concede to the fact that I wasn't going to make my goal time.
The question I have to ask myself is running a race about the finish or is about the goal you have set? At that point in the race, I was happy to just finish and I thought as long as I have that pacer in my sights, I can still finish close to my desired goal time. A win win.
At the final half mile of the race, the 2 hour pacer stopped in front of me and said she was a bit ahead of schedule. I was quite relieved and didn't realize how important that goal time was to me. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:58.04, but with a time of 1:55.31 on my Garmin (I stopped it at the water stations). Under two hours.
I found a curb and sat down thankful that the worst run of my life was over. I had the worst attitude, and part of me was glad that I could cross that goal time off my list of things I wanted to accomplish in life.