Part One... If you have been following me for a few months, you know that I have recently trained for and now completed my first half marathon. I want to share with you story of how exercise had to make its way back into my life. Before you get to thinking "Oh, she just runs all the time so this was no big deal", my friend, this half marathon was a BIG FREAKING DEAL. So here we go. I am going to ramble. We better start at my high school days... (Insert time warp music here.)
I was an athlete in high school. I played volleyball, basketball, and golf. I played with summer volleyball and basketball teams. I played so much basketball that I played with other local teams outside of my own. I was super active. I was a goody-goody and stayed out of trouble. Sports kept me out of trouble. Being the paranoid oldest child kept me out of trouble. Sports was pretty much it.
Then one day I went to college. Oh, did I go to college.
I immediately stopped working out. I wasn't involved in anything so I had nothing to push me to be active anymore. Oh, except that one step aerobics class I took for a semester. Yeah, that was worth every penny **eye roll**. I started drinking. Not like crazy college binge drinking, but several nights a week my college friends and I would be found drinking socially for extended periods of time. All that socializing and drinking made us hungry, which made pizza delivery roll into our dorms/apartments at about 2am.
By the end of college in 2005, I had gained 40 pounds. Damn you Pizza Patrol, Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade, and Old Chicago. Or rather, the excess of you.
My wedding day was in 2007 and I still had that 40 pounds on me. Sure, I had joined a gym to work out before the wedding but that didn't motivate me to stay active. I didn't lose anything before the wedding. I didn't really try that hard either. I had a corset dress that made me automatically look 10 pounds lighter. No serious workouts required I guess.
After my mom died unexpectedly, my weight loss kind of jump started on its own. I guess that's what a couple week diet of coffee, ibuprofen, and stress will do to you. I was ten pounds lighter when the new year rolled in. Lighter, yes. Healthy? No. But I would get better at that.
In 2008, a friend of mine convinced me to sign up for the Fargo Marathon relay. I didn't run before that. I didn't train for it. I had no clue what I was doing. I walked most of it. I never looked up my exact finishing time. I never thought I'd do anything like that again. Until one day I was on my way to a local charity walk to volunteer with my co-workers and down every street, there were people out running. I thought to myself, "How do you get to be like that? Just wake up and go running? I could never do that." When I got to the event I was chatting with a fellow co-worker who happened to be a runner. I'm not entirely sure how the conversation went. Did I ask her about running? Did she just start talking about it? Either way, I remember that person's passion for running.
So one day after that conversation, I started running. I just went outside, downloaded some tracker app on my phone, and took off. I don't think I made it more than a couple of blocks. I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know how to "become a runner". Outside felt defeating. We bought a treadmill. I pushed myself until I could run a mile on it without stopping. It took lots of mind games to make it happen! Look at the time, ten more seconds. Look at the distance, couple more tenths of a mile. Back and forth until I met my goal. Eventually, I went two miles on that treadmill. I never cared about my speed but rather that I could go so far without walking. I started going outside to run. I mentally struggled with every run. I started blogging about my running experiences. It helped keep my mind occupied while I was fighting with my body to go farther, plus of course I was funny. :)
I somehow convinced one of my friends to start running too. She didn't want to but she eventually joined me. Sometimes we'd run together. Sometimes we'd just send each other encouragement. We signed up with two other girls for a two mile race one day in 2010. It took all four of us, plus a stranger running beside us, to push the jogging stroller we had with us. We thought we were going to die. It was difficult. We were close to last. For the record, all four of us continued to run after that even though we thought our lives were over that day.
I signed up for my first 5k later that summer. I remember while we were lining up, there was this little old lady next to me. I thought, "If she beats me, I must really suck." Well, she beat me. That's also when I realized it doesn't matter what you look like, what your age is, or anything like that when you are a runner. Runners just run and most of them are just so damn happy about it. Encouragement from my friends and family who ran always came pouring in when I needed it. Again, I kept running.
By 2011, I ran a 7k and a 10k race. After the 10k, I decided I wanted to work on my speed. No more longer distances! No way, I said! Never again, I said! Time to focus on getting faster. My goal was to finish a 5k in under 30 minutes. This was my next challenge.
In 2012, I was pregnant and while I had every intention to keep running, the exhaustion of my first trimester aligned with the dark of winter parked my butt on the couch. Once spring rolled around I did walk as often as I could and even participated in two 5ks but I never did work out like I had hoped.
Fast forward to spring of 2013, post baby and post winter. I ran two 5ks in the spring, both around 34 minutes. I had a ways to go before I could get under 30 minutes. In September that year, I started my Shaklee 180 Lean and Healthy challenge. I coupled the Shaklee 180 program with strength training and running. Things I had never tried before. At the end of September I ran a 5k while pushing a stroller and finished in 32 minutes. So close! I had one more 5k that fall to try and meet my goal. It finally happened. In October 2013, I finished a 5k in 29:23!
After I ran that 5k last fall, I again fell off the running wagon for a bit. We had moved. We traveled. It was the holidays. Yep, every excuse. I used it. When we finally got settled into our new house, I decided I had to get running again. My husband's cousin talked about running the half marathon and how I should join her. NO WAY, I said. Can't do it! But she persisted and after tossing the idea around with others, I decided to sign up. I had the time and the resources. Why not try?
I hopped on the training plan a few days late but overall I stuck to the plan. I had never stuck to a plan before. I ran 166 miles with that plan. I ran the farther than I ever thought I would, multiple times. I was going to accomplish this. I was going to embrace it. I was going to enjoy it.