I haven't always been a runner. I never saw myself as someone inclined to any kind of athleticism, let alone feats of athleticism. Running and I crossed paths a few times over the years, but we never stuck together for more than a couple weeks at a time. My workouts, however rarely they happened, usually took the form of weightlifting: early high school days of angsty iron-pumping in my parents' basement, and then a somewhat more recent 5-month shot at serious weight training with a friend who was an amateur bodybuilder. In 2006 I dabbled in cycling, doing long 35-40 mile rides a few times a week, but my bike was terrible and eventually I stopped. I told myself constantly that I wasn't cut out for athletic activity.
But one day in May 2008, all of that changed. I put on running shoes but hardly had intentions of running; it was just a beautiful spring day and I wanted to be outside. Once I was outside, though, running seemed like just the thing to do. I sprinted along, full of optimism, and made it about 2 minutes before I had to stop because I was so out of breath. I thought it was ridiculous... I wasn't overweight, yet somehow I couldn't even run for 2 minutes without feeling like death. Realizing how out of shape I was was kind of what sealed it. For the next 5 days I put those shoes back on and went out there to try to run longer each day. At the end of that week my knees were in a lot of pain. Again I thought that running and I just weren't meant to be, but I figured that runners have to start somewhere...which prompted me to google something silly like "how to become a runner."
One thing led to another and I stumbled upon a couch-to-5k plan through myasics.co.uk. This site (now redesigned) generated a custom c25k training plan taking into account your current fitness levels and desired running schedule. The plan I ended up following said it would have me running a 5k nonstop in 6-8 weeks, something I thought basically impossible (I couldn't even remember the last time I'd run a MILE, and I don't think I'd ever run THREE miles before). Through the magic of interval training, though, it got me there--and without pain and without feeling completely exhausted and terrible.
Once I was comfortably running 3 miles I became incredibly paranoid that I was going to lose this fitness I'd worked so hard to achieve, and I had no idea how to maintain my fitness. At that point I rewarded myself with a "real" pair of running shoes, now that I was fairly certain I'd stick with it, and I started doing a 10k training plan. I did my first race ever--a 5 miler--in September 2008. I ran outside all that winter. In January, my best friend Sam started running with me. He wasn't a runner either but was coming back from a broken foot and got it in his head that he wanted to do some races too. He trained for and ran the Flying Pig half marathon in May in Cincinnati (his hometown) while I watched and cheered him on, and in June 2009 I completed my first half marathon (the Sunburst in South Bend, IN--my hometown). Finishing that race was probably the best moment of my life at that time. That race represented everything I thought I wasn't--and finishing it was this huge symbol of me being the person I'd always wanted to be. At that moment I felt I had achieved the unachievable. That summer I went on to do 2 more half marathons, loving every minute of my weekend long runs and all of the training involved. In spite of all that, the idea of a full marathon seemed completely absurd to me. I was/am a slow runner, and I told myself there was no way I'd consider a full marathon unless I was running half marathons comfortably under 2 hours.
At the end of summer 2009 I posted a photo on facebook of all my race bibs from that year, which I'd strung together and hung on the wall. A guy I knew from high school, who was/is a serious runner, made some comment about how the only natural next step was a full marathon. I laughed it off but ... the seed had been planted. Somewhere around January 2010, I decided I was going to go through with it and do the unthinkable that year: a full marathon.
Which is where this blog came in. Training had its ups and downs, but I made it through and ran my first full marathon on October 17, 2010--a day I will never, ever forget.
Read all of my race reports here. This year I hope to run 2 full marathons, one in spring and one in fall.
If you're reading this and you're not a runner, I'm here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT. I couldn't run for two minutes when I started this journey, and here I am, a marathoner. It can be done!
On eating a vegan diet:
I began eating vegetarian at the age of 15 (about 1997 I think but who am I kidding, I can't do math..), mostly because I never liked the taste of meat and did some reading about the health benefits of vegetarianism. In 2004 I moved in with a vegan roommate and she made eating vegan look ridiculously easy. It started to seem silly NOT to eat vegan. I converted on January 1, 2005, and I've been eating vegan ever since. The decision to eat vegan is mostly a health decision for me, though the ethical dimensions of veganism have grown in importance for me over the years as well.
Please click on the "what I eat" tab above for more information on being a vegan endurance athlete. (This section is coming soon).
On my support network:
My friend Sam has been with me all along for the running journey--he's done most of my races with me, and a lot of training time together. Having some kind of support and buddies to run with has really helped me along.
I also belong to the Cbus Pacers, our local free running club, and I run with them a couple days a week. I'm so grateful for the women I run with who I've met through the club. And also for my patient non-running friends who put up with me rambling on about training constantly ;)
What keeps me putting on those shoes and heading out that door:
Running has become a part of my identity that I'm really proud of, if that's not already obvious from my above story. But it's something about myself that I can really hang my hat on, something I'm proud to tell people, something I worked really hard to achieve, something I thought I could never do, something that has required me to be tenacious, something that has made me a better person in a lot of ways. Through running I've gained confidence, clarity, and determination, as well as a network of amazing people both online and off. I don't ever want to lose any of that. And if I, that girl who was the huge nerd in high school, can run a freaking marathon, well... I'm basically unstoppable. If I keep all of that in mind, I think I'll always keep going and I'll always be a runner.
What I do when I'm not running:
Finishing up a graduate degree; teaching; watchin' reality tv shows (seriously, the more mindless the better); finding good new obscure music; going to concerts/live shows; cooking; watching pro cycling (best pro sport ever); hanging out in my favorite cafes; doing fun things around town.
Read my race reports:
Cleveland Marathon, May 2011
Columbus Marathon, Oct. 2010, my first full marathon
My "I don't hate 5ks any more" revelation race
Cap City Half Marathon May 2010
Phoenix Rock n Roll Half Marathon January 2010
Spirit of Columbus August 2009, aka "the most mismanaged race I've ever run"
Sunburst Half Marathon June 2009, my first half marathon