How I started running… again

 

  • This was printed in May of 2013 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the second installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

Months before I got bit by the Boston bug and decided to run a marathon, I resolved to start running again. The last time I called myself a runner, I was 16 and a junior in high school.

I ran track and cross country every year from second through eleventh grade, but I wasn’t as dedicated as I could have been. I ran for fun – and to get out of class once in awhile — not to win. I was always one of the top five girls on my team, which equated to a middle-of-the-pack runner at meets. My mile time back then was an unimpressive 6:35.

When I got a job my senior year of high school, I chose to work and earn money instead of going to cross country practice, so I ended up quitting the team.

After that I ran occasionally, no more than about three miles at a time.

In 2010, three weeks after giving birth to my daughter, I headed to a nearby track and ran a mile as fast I could, just to see how (un)fit I was. It was a sad 10:02. I got discouraged, (I know, I know, I was three weeks postpartum and way too hard on myself) and didn’t run for a while after that.

When my husband’s Marine Corps enlistment was over and we moved back to Fresno, my sister had a pretty intense high school P.E. teacher who encouraged good mile times. On weekends, my sister and I started running the mile together to improve our times. By then my daughter was nearly a year old, and I could run a not-too-shabby 8-minute mile – for one mile. I was definitely not a distance runner anymore.

Fast forward to my 25th birthday in October. I had what I’ll call my quarter-century crisis – much like a midlife crisis but much, much sooner – and realized that I needed to be a runner. For months I had seen my Facebook friends, many of whom had been non-runners in high school, post photos and status updates about completing 10Ks and half marathons. I used to be a distance runner; why was I not completing half marathons?

I started running in November, first two to three miles at a time, then three to four. In December, I finished a 5K, or 3.1 miles, – my first race since my junior year in high school — in 27 minutes.

On New Year’s Eve, I registered for a half marathon. I searched for a local one that I could finish before my 26th birthday. The California Classic in May seemed too soon; the Two Cities would occur after my birthday.

Then I came across the Wascally Wabbit, scheduled for September.

Cute name, I thought. And September seemed like enough time to train for my first 13.1-mile race. Through Facebook I found out that Alberto, who I’d run cross country with in high school, was also running the Wascally. Turns out, the guy who organizes the half marathon also coaches people who want to train for it, and Alberto was in that group. He encouraged me to come out and join them.

And that’s how I met Coach Brad and his – my – running group.

One cold February morning I woke at 4 a.m., nursed my 4-month-old son, and then drove to Woodward Park to meet the group for our 5 a.m. start time.

At that point I had run no farther than four miles on my own, but that day I ran eight and felt unstoppable. I don’t know what it was – the cool morning air, running before the sun came up, and/or running with a group and trying not to look like a sissy – but I ran further and faster than I’d ever run in my life.

I was amazed at what my body could do. My body had literally grown a human inside of it, it was still nourishing that little human, and it was now running eight miles.

I was hooked.

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