My quest to turn into a bona fide runner

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

 

“Joggers bounce up and down at stoplights. Runners just stand there looking pissed off,” says one of my now-favorite Facebook memes.

When I read that back in November, I was both embarrassed and inspired. I bounced up and down at stoplights, I guess to try to keep my heart rate up while waiting for a green light. That meme changed my life. I didn’t want to be a jogger, I wanted to be a runner.

Now I stand still at stoplights.

Every time I run, whether it’s a distance run, hill repeats, speed drills, or a race, makes me closer to becoming the runner that I want to be.

After completing in December my first 5K since my running rebirth, I ran my first 10K — ever — in March. I won third place in my age division in Sanger’s Blossom Trail 10K with a time of 50:58.49, an 8:12 per mile pace. I was less than 40 seconds away from taking first.

It was on that day that my mindset changed. I loved running because it was an escape, a way to stay fit, and it helped me be a better mom. Now I also love running because I’m good at it. I’m no longer a middle-of-the-pack gal; I’m a competitor, a real runner.

I hit “beast mode” on March 9 when I ran the farthest I’ve gone to date — 12 miles — in a sub-9-minute per mile pace. Reaching double-digit miles was a big milestone for me. But even after accomplishing that, I wasn’t satisfied.

Racing a double-digit-mile race, and again placing third in my age division, satisfied me for a bit. I did this April 27, when I ran the 10-mile Shinzen Run at Woodward Park in 1:25:47.2, or about an 8:35-minute-mile pace.

But I’m still not the runner that I want to be. This column is about my quest to become a marathoner, but first I must become a half-marathoner.

No one cares if you have a “5K” or “10K” sticker on your car. Actually, I don’t know if window decals for those distances even exist. But the half marathon decal, a subtle black and white “13.1” design, is a badge of honor placed on the back windows of those who’ve earned it — real runners. Of course, the coveted “26.2” decal is even more prestigious, but I have to take this one step at a time.

I’m running my first half marathon on June 1. I finally just signed up for the cheapest and closest one I could find, because I thought it was silly to train for a marathon when I hadn’t even run a half marathon yet.

Nonetheless, my first day of marathon training was May 8. On the schedule was a 2.5-mile warm up followed by three “tempos.” These, Coach Brad explained, were half miles run at a fast speed, followed by quarter mile recoveries, in which we could jog slowly or even walk to catch our breath. The goal was to hit a given pace for each tempo. Since I need to run a marathon in three hours and 35 minutes or less to qualify for Boston, my tempo pace was three minutes, 35 seconds.

When we started our run, it was sprinkling. By the time we were on our second tempo, it was pouring rain. It felt amazing to run a half-mile in 3:28 (I was a bit faster than my goal pace) while rain was soaking my clothes and drenching my hair. I could barely see as the rain hit my face and obscured my eyes. Any sweat that left my pores was immediately washed away.

That rain, on my first official day of marathon training, was like a baptism. I was no longer a heathen runner — I was a runner training for a marathon.

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