I was never athletic. I played some soccer and basketball when I was elementary school, but I still struggled with running a lap and fighting the urge to vomit all over myself. In high school, I did marching band for a little while, but then made my way onto the Yearbook staff and never looked back. While at a residential honors camp in 2002, I tore my ACL playing a friendly game of soccer. I knew I wasn’t meant for sports.
While I love to walk and walk for hours, I always thought I would never be able to run. It just made me feel sick. Then I heard about the Couch to 5k program from my good friend Brian. It seemed doable. I first started to try it in the summer of 2008. FAIL. I tried too hard right out of the gate, I think. I don’t even want to talk about what shoes I was wearing. (Hello, purple Wal-Mart special.)
After ringing in 2009 with a promise to take better care of myself and treat myself better, I began walking with a coworker at lunch. Nothing too hard, just about 30 minutes or so around downtown after we’d finished eating. It was cold at first. And it wasn’t too hard, but it wasn’t necessarily easy, either. Yet we stuck with it several times a week. I lost about 10 pounds in a few months.
In May, my coworker joined the YMCA and encouraged me to do so as well. I did, and we began taking classes and exploring the facilities. I remember one Saturday morning, I was walking on the treadmill. I silently wondered to myself what it would be like to crank up the speed a little and jog. I’d always had these huge fears of the deafening sound of my feet stomping on the belt and someone politely asking me to stop. I slowly sped up, not much, just from about 2.5 to 3.5, and I began to pick up my pace.
And… nothing. Rather, no one shielded their eyes from the sight of me trotting on the treadmill, no one asked me to leave, and I didn’t crush the equipment. I tried to remember the first week of C25k, attempting to do 30 seconds of running and 60 seconds of walking, for a total of about 25 minutes (in addition to close to 30 minutes of walking at the beginning). I felt like I was on a cloud. I called my mother. “You’ll never believe what I did!” I pressed on.
It took me a long time to complete the whole program. I repeated weeks (I never thought I’d be able to run for 5 minutes at a time), took breaks, and stepped back. But I even went to so far as to run on vacation and signed up for my first 5k: the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
I completed the first three weeks on a treadmill, then I made the amazing switch to running on an indoor track, and it made all the difference. I was able to measure progress in distance and not time. I carried a little Post-It with me telling me how many laps to run, and I rewarded my hard work with an iPod shuffle that I could run with. I can still remember the first time I ran 2 miles—20 laps—on the track. I thought I would float back home.
I would and have recommended the C25k program to everyone I know who wants to get into running but thinks that they can’t. You can. It can be done. And when it seems like it’s too hard or that you think you want to give up, remember this: It’s going to be hard. It’s going to hurt. It’s not easy; if it was, everyone would do it. But it’s so worth it in the end. Trust me.
10.10.09—Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k ≈ 43 minutes (no timing chip)
This was my very first 5k! I ran with a friend of mine, and we took it easy with several walking breaks. I was so proud of myself! Lesson learned: Do NOT rub your leg down with IcyHot and then slap on a knee brace; I thought my skin was going to burn off.
12.5.09—Jingle Bell Run 5k ≈ 40 minutes (again, no chip)
There was snow the ground for this one. It had a tough uphill at the beginning that I did NOT plan for. I was also plagued with some serious side stitches throughout, and this was the first race where I realized it’s important to dress in layers—I was SO hot by the end in my sweatshirt.
1.9.10—Red Nose Run 5k ≈ 42 minutes
My friend and I signed up for this one, but I ended up not running because it was so unbelievably cold! I saw pictures later, and a man had icicles of sweat on his neck 😦 Not cool. Instead, we ran our own little 5k indoors.
2.13.10—KBR 5k 35:21
I had a timing chip for the first time! This was also my first time running and not stopping during a race. Craig stuck by my side the entire time. It was a little rough, because I wasn’t quite used to not stopping at all, but we made it. This race was part of Mercedes Marathon Weekend; there was a lot of fun swag, and the expo was cool.
3.27.10—Rumpshaker 5k (PR) 35:19
This was the first 5k for my sister Autumn, friend Jen, and roomie Reagan. Jen and Autumn were able to run the whole time without stopping, and Reagan killed her first 5k without much training leading up to it. This was one of my first races running without a friend by my side; we each ran our own race.
4.30.10—UAB Dollars for Scholars 10k 1:20:53
This was a tough race. We got lucky in that there wasn’t a lot of sun out (it was at 6pm on a Friday), but it was still really sticky and hot. The worst part about the whole thing was that it was a double loop course—that is such a mental thing for me. I started to get so tired. We were some of the last ones to finish, but since this was a 5k/10k event, not a lot of people did the longer distance. Craig and I finished side by side again.
5.8.10—Music Moves Me 10k 1:37:56
This my sister’s first 10k, and I wanted to stick by her and finish together. However, we ran into a little problem. We were running a 10k in a town I am not familiar with, and the race volunteers towards the end of the course starting packing up! There was no one to tell us where to go and no signs. We were part of a decent handful of people who got lost and had to track down a race volunteer on a bike (who was also new to the area) to attempt to find the finish line. Such a mess. I gave them an earful, though, and they refunded our money. So not all bad. (Though I did come away from it with a pretty bad sunburn.)
5.31.10—Cotton Row 5k 37:50
I actually finished this one in around 36:20. We had timing chips on our shoes, but instead of starting when you crossed over the start line, everyone’s chips started at gun time. It took us about a minute and a half to reach the start, which is when I started running and started my iPod. This run, on Memorial Day, was HOT. Really hot. My sister, Reagan, and I all ran it, but separately. I finished the first mile around 11 minutes, which is actually fast for me, but soon after, I had to walk. I found it interesting that even though I stopped to walk, I still finished way faster than my first two races where I walked a lot.
9.18.10—Head Over Teal 5k 34:12 (short at about 2.9 miles, but I figured if I’d kept going to 3.1 at this pace, I would finished around 36:30)
I have never been in a race and actually wanted to quit… until this one. The course and elevation were terrible. It was blazing hot, and the sun was so unforgiving. I was absolutely exhausted when I crossed the finish line. But I finished, and I’m glad that fall racing season is around the corner. Hello, better temps!
10.9.10—Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k (no timing chip, but I estimated that I finished around 38 minutes)
This was my very first 5k last year, and I really wanted to run the whole thing. However, the heat was still pretty bad even in October. I started to get a cold sweat about 1.5 miles in, so I ended up taking several walking breaks. In the end, Race for the Cure is all about giving to a great cause and also the amazing support all along the course!
1.8.11—Red Nose Run 10-mile (PDR) 2:18:48
5.14.11—Music Moves Me 5k 41:45
In 2012, I moved to DC and participated in some races:
LivingSocial Glow Run
Arlington Turkey Trot
Vulcan 10k Run
Arlington Turkey Trot
Pacers St. Patrick’s Day 8k
Nike Women’s Half-Marathon
ZOOMA Annapolis 10k
(planned) Arlington Turkey Trot
Read more about my dec-slow-ration of independence here.