A few weeks ago marked my 8th year as a runner and this past Tuesday was the 7 year anniversary of my first ever half marathon. I’ve talked a little about my entry into running in some of my early blog posts. It was super simple: I laced up an old pair of cross trainers I’d had since college, and set out on what I later mapped out as a 1 mile loop from my apartment. I walked a lot, jogged a little and vividly remember getting a very brief burst of “runners high” in the last few seconds. I was proud of myself and history now shows that I was hooked.
In remembering the first few days of running, here are some thoughts and reflections from the beginning:
+I thought everyone knew what they were doing. I remember feeling like the newest most obviously new newbie that ever showed up to a group run when I started out. I felt like there was a sign on my forehead exclaiming that I was new at this and everyone must’ve been aware of it. I remember one particular group run where the theme was some sort of gift white elephant something or other. Basically you started out with a tiny gift to run with. Each person you passed, you got theirs, when you got passed, you gave up yours etc. Well I lost mine within the first 12 seconds and was quickly the last one on this run so my “fun” gift exchange was over. I remember thinking that group runs weren’t for me. Obviously they are, but maybe some that don’t involve weird gift giving traditions.
+I thought you had to be some sort of immortal to run a marathon. I remember when I had just committed to training for my first half. I met a girl who’d run a full and I was just in awe of her and asked her a million questions. Never did I think I’d one day run a marathon myself (and I didn’t even know what ultra’s are)
Picture from my first marathon-Columbus 2012. Mile 19. I have never hit a wall so hard. Never trust my smile during a race.
+I assumed that my pace was my pace and that it was something that was not able to be changed. This was not true whatsoever. Some examples: first 1/2 marathon was 2.32, fastest was 1.58. First 5 miler was 1.17ish, fastest was 42ish. I had no idea that pace could be improved upon with hard work.
Me and my brother Andrew. From my second half marathon ever-the Towpath 1/2 in spring of 2012. I improved by a few minutes from my first just 6 months earlier. I remember being so proud.
+I didn’t know that running in the woods existed. And as I mentioned above, I had no idea about people running more than 26.2 miles as the thought had never occurred to me. Once, I remember an acquaintance who ran a marathon in September and then another in October and I was *gasp* shocked because you weren’t supposed to do that! I don’t know why I thought one shouldn’t do that but obviously I’ve changed my tune.
Pic of me as a somewhat new trail runner
+I knew exactly zero people who’d run while pregnant. I felt really lacking in the info department when I became pregnant about two years into my running journey. I just kind of went with what felt good. I ran a few races but didn’t train for anything. The first few months of my pregnancy were extremely cold and icy so I cut my mileage and ran indoors frequently. Once it got nicer out, I ran outside as well as biked. When I got really big and the summer heat kicked in, I spent a lot of time at the gym in the AC. I made it through 41 weeks and felt pretty damn good.
Blossom time 5.25 miler 2013. I was 6 months pregnant and owned zero maternity workout gear. Nonetheless, I had a great time and got lots of high fives. This is one of very few pictures I took from my pregnancy- I wish I had documented more of my running journey.
+I thought I was the only one who walked during races and runs. During my first ever 20 miler, I reached the point of just being exhausted and dehydrated. I was running on the Towpath and had refilled my water bottle multiple times but I just couldn’t get back to being hydrated and my electrolytes were off. I finally started to walk a bit at mile 19 and was just so disappointed in myself. It never occurred to me that walking is still forward motion and was getting me closer to the finish line. At the time, walking indicated quitting or giving up to me. Now I realize that walking, particularly on trails or during ultras, is almost as valuable a tool as running, and something to be practiced.
So year 8 has been pretty damn good. I discovered yet another layer to my fitness journey as I forayed into the Crossfit world and I had the privilege of spending every weekend on the trails this summer. Each season of my running journey has been so special. Looking back, I will treasure those first few years of running, when figuring out what to wear was half the battle and each run felt like an achievement. And now that I’ve figured out the basics, I’m excited to see what the future has in store. I have no real plans but I know that whatever it is, will be just as fulfilling as the first 8 years.