A few years ago, I didn't even know what the round black & white sticker, 26.2, meant. I would see that on cars and assume it was some secret club. Hard to believe that I'll soon be a member. And yeah, I'm totally putting a sticker on my car next week.
Let's take a look back at how it all began...
January 1st of 2006. I was tired of being out of shape. I wasn't overweight, but I knew I was underfit. A sad state for someone my age. I was always active when I was younger, but in the blink of an eye I had become sedentary. So I walked myself up to our local YMCA and joined. Right then on New Year's Day.
And I started walking on a treadmill. I'd walk for 20-30 minutes at a time. And you know what? I lost over 10 pounds those first few months, just walking! That's how out of shape I was! This continued and I started to learn how to use the other equipment, starting loving the elliptical machine. Started loving the way I felt now that I was exercising regularly.
Always goal oriented, I signed up for my first 5K in years. The October Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I printed out Hall Higdon's 5K training plan, taped it to the medicine cabinet in our bathroom and I was off!
I wish the picture was full length. I was in head to toe in cotton. Nice. Also, wearing the race shirt. Now I know that's a no-no! Look how high that bib is! Long forgotten is the time, but time wasn't the goal. Finishing was my prize. I was so proud of myself for running an entire 5K. (Even though I wasn't really sure how far a 5K was) I suspected around 3 miles. You can imagine my horror when I saw the 3 mile marker...and it wasn't the finish line!
A coworker told me about the White Rock Marathon held each December. You could run a relay team through the marathon course so we excitedly put together a team. I signed up for the 4.5 mile leg of the race. I had never run this far, even in "training." (which at this point, still consisted of jogging/walking on the treadmill and the elliptical machine) I was so inspired by those who were really running a marathon. I felt unworthy to be running alongside them, my piddly 4.5 miles that felt like 40!Again, race tee and head to toe cotton. Clearly I'm the one in pink.
The following Spring, I discovered the half marathon distance. And while extremely daunting, it seemed doable. I convinced my relay buddy Jarrod to train and run with me. We were pumped! Notice again, the cotton race shirt. At least I had discovered running shorts by this point! (do you like the jazz hands Chic Runner?) Check out those muscles, sedentary no more! I had a BLAST! I felt great the entire time. Once again, no time goal. Finishing was my prize. I still remember that feeling; like I had conquered something huge.
And then of course, I was hooked.
I returned to White Rock in December, this time not a relayer, but a half marathoner. Undertrained, but overly excited, I loved every rain soaked minute of it. I couldn't wait to run another!I only owned one long sleeve techincal shirt, but my how my clothing choices had changed!
January of 2008 I enrolled in a Speed Clinic with my local running store. My magic mile was just over 10 minutes. Speed wasn't exactly a word used to describe my particular style of running. But I met Sarah and we clicked. She too wasn't the hare, but had run several halfs and even a full! I looked forward to those tortuous chilly nights on the track with her.
I cautiously joined her morning run group. I made even more new friends. My speed class mates were working on getting in under 22 minutes. I finally ran a 5K in under 30 minutes. Time now meant something to me. Not so glamorous, but that's what the hills of Austin in May will do to a girl!
I gained entry to the Nike Women's Marathon for my 3rd half. So hard to believe this was just over a year ago!
Running had officially become an addiction. I ran 3 halfs (havles?) in 3 months that Fall. I ran 3 more in the next 3 months after that. I got faster and my times came down. I got stronger. I grew to love running even more.Then I set my heart on a full marathon. Signing up for NY was the scariest thing I'd ever done. By committing to fund raise for charity, I knew I was committed to running it.
But the challenge excited me.
So tomorrow, I'll get on the subway early in the morning, Eminem blaring in my ears to calm my nerves. I'll hop on that ferry to Staten Island, not a stitch of cotton on my muscular frame. And in my heart I'll hold that feeling from my first 5K. My first relay. My first half. Finishing will be my prize.
I am a female.
I am an athlete.
I am a runner.
Soon, I will be a marathoner.
And if history tells us anything about this challenge motivated girl, it won't be the last.
The race is not won by the swift nor the strong, but to he who endures in the end.