Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What A Difference 2 Years Running Makes

I've been running for 2 years now and I still consider myself a newb at it. There's so much to learn and try and explore with running. Not that you have to. You can just put on a pair of shoes (and not even that anymore!) and head out the door. Some people have natural talent and it's easy for them. Some people do not. I definitely fall into the category of do not. Well, I should say that I'm not speedy because I think I have great endurance.

When I started running in January 2009, I weighed 238 pounds. I'd already lost more than 60 pounds by bike commuting but it was starting to feel "easy" so I thought I would add running in to up the ante and to get in some cross training. I'd never thought of myself as a runner and I wasn't sure if I would like it or if my body would. But I thought I'd give it a try.

I started with a run/walk program and went out for a mile and then eventually two. It took me 30 minutes to run/walk two miles but I got it done. I took it slow and added miles sparingly and only ran 3 days a week. I was still running 12/13 min miles but I was starting to feel like a runner. I entered a 5K trail race that April and my time was 51:31. I was 95th out of 105 runners. It was a little depressing but I had to learn to embrace my inner penquinness (John Bingham) and just keep running. It eventually got easier and I got a little faster and in November 2009 I ran my first 10K in 1:02.34. That was a great boost to see such improvement over the 5K 7 months earlier.

2010 started off with my weight down to 168 and training for a half marathon. I ran the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon in 2:13.53 in February. I was really happy with that and in the afterglow, I signed up for the Eugene Marathon in May. A marathon! Gasp! What was I thinking! Could I, the formerly fat girl, slow runner, poster child penguin, run a marathon? Would I make it thru the training? Would I show up on the starting line?

I can't say I enjoyed the training for that. I was still only running 3 days a week and the long runs were miserable. I vowed while I was training that the Eugene would be the only marathon I ever did! No way was I going to torture myself with another 20 miler. On race day, I wasn't as prepared as I should have been (no hill training or marathon pacing) and I went out too fast and hit the wall at mile 18. The last 8 miles were a mix of running and walking and stretching out my calves, which were cramping. I must have looked pretty bad because a race official walked with me a bit and told me I could quit if I wanted to. But something kicked in and I decided quitting was not an option. No way. And then a funny thing happened around mile 24. I said to myself "well, you're going to do another one". I finished my first marathon in 5:12 and change. Exhausted, sore, and really hungry. Disappointed in my time, for sure. But proud that I hadn't quit.

I picked the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon for my 2nd marathon in October and the training for that went much, much better. I can definitely say that it was while I was training for this marathon that I fell in love with running. The long runs were bliss. I actively sought out hills. I did progression runs and tempos. I was running 4 days a week. I was down to 147 and I was feeling great. Now I really felt like a runner. My time for the Mohawk Hudson was 4:40 so still off my goal but a PR. And like they say, you can't be disappointed with a PR.

I finished off 2010 with the same 10K race I had done the previous November. My time for this was 55:56 and I was 4th in my age group. Granted, it was a smallish local race but still... 4th! Woo! Still not as fast as I would like be though so in December, I hired Jason to coach me.

Now, 2 years after I've started running, I have a 5K, 2 10Ks, 1 half marathon, and 2 marathons under my belt. I have a coach to help me run stronger and faster (and I've already seen and felt improvement). I've lost 93.8lbs since Jan 09 and I'm down to 144.2 and wearing a size 6! AND I am IN LOVE with running. Really, that is the most important and joyful thing for me. I never thought I would love running so much. That I would be excited at the thought of a 20miler. That I would be running trails and seeking out hills. That I would be dreaming of running 50Ks. I thought these things were "impossible" for me. And maybe they were...for the old me. But that person doesn't exist anymore. I literally ran away from that person who was afraid to dream and go for what she wanted.

Definitely the biggest change that has happened in the 2 years I've been running is that now I am dreaming bigger and I see infinite possibilities and adventures ahead. I feel like the world has opened up for me and I am going to Leap Fearlessly into it. You can bet on that!

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