I want to be clear but I haven’t always been a runner. I never ran in middle or high school. In early college I ran on the swim off season..twice. Running never came naturally to me and seeing 10 year olds throwing down 6 minute miles blows my mind.
Let’s begin a journey shall we?
In middle school I was overweight, pudgy, awkward and well couldn’t run.
My weight came from eating too many cookies and playing roller coaster tycoon (like a normal middle schooler) while my parents were at work. My family was a bunch of runners-but me? Yeah…no. I failed the mile test multiple times in both middle and high school. Not because I didn’t want to pass but because I couldn’t physically pass. I could not physically do it. I’ll never forget the day I ran 3 laps around the track in 8:45 and tried to convince my gym teacher I had really improved (by not running the extra lap).
My mile test would always come down to the last lap around the track. I would be somewhere between 9-10 minutes going into lap 4 and would flailing around the track preying I would pass (breathing like I was going into cardiac arrest). Like oh my god how the hell am I going to make around one more time?
My middle school gym teacher (little did I know how big in the running community he is) would constantly poke fun at me. It didn’t help that I had some of the best middle school runners in my class. I mean when you have some girl running the mile in 6:30 not really trying and you have me going into cardiac arrests at 12:15, it’s not difficult to notice the difference. When I did pass it was only with 10-15 seconds to spare. My PR on the mile test was 12:12.
So middle and high school running went something like that until 11th grade when we didn’t have to go to gym class anymore.
To summarize, my running consisted of preying to the high heavens that I would pass gym class and not having to retake the mile test. Then I graduated high school in 2008 and that was that.
For the first year of college I ran two times. One was to impress the (male members) of the swim team because they were hosting an optional practice that consisted of running. Why the hell I thought that was a good idea was beyond me..it’s not like I could run.
The second time was with my roommate around campus all the ellipticals were taken. We ran exactly 1.46 miles. New Personal Long Run!
Then the summer between freshman and sophomore year dad asked if I wanted to do the Allen Stone Run Swim Run race. It was a 1k run on the beach followed by a 1k swim in the ocean then 5k on the boardwalk. I did a few 5k training runs solely on the treadmill. I was too embarrassed to run outdoors and also questioned what would happen if I passed out running. In 2009 I surprised myself and thought the 5k went by really quickly. I even got second in my age group!
I was overjoyed of my success but didn’t run again for a while. By a while, I laced up my sneakers once from August to March. My next big running event came when my college hosted an annual 5k on St. Patrick’s day the following March. I ended up surprising myself, my dad and everyone and ran 24 min 5k. After that I kept it casual and thought well running could be fun when I needed to mix it up from the gym. I ended up running roughly a 5k loop around campus maybe once or twice a week.
In May of 2010, upon returning home from sophomore year of college, dad asked if I wanted to run a 10k race (The Elizabeth River Run) and I told him I had other things to do. (That was a lie, I had never run a 10k and was scared to do it so I didn’t). I did do an 8k the following weekend (CHKD) and finished slightly after dad (who was suffering from plantar fasciitis).
July 4, 2010 at the Independence day 5k at Mount Trashmore was when the stars aligned for me with running. I ended up running a 22 minute 5k. I don’t know where it came from but I was on cloud 9.
I was hooked.
I was delusional.
Out of runner’s high emailed our college cross country coach and said I wanted to join. About 48 hours after emailing the college coach he sent me a summer training schedule which really freaked me out. Running 5 miles daily, a 7 mile run here and there? I had struggled with that 8k earlier. What the hell are striders? I knew I enjoyed running but I wasn’t sure of these new “technical” terms and if I enjoyed it that much. I essentially thought of running as walking quite quickly. The day I did my first 7 mile run on the training cycle was literally one of the most exciting days of my life!
On July 16th 2010, I went on to win the RSR that I had so desperately trained for the previous year. I can still say that is my greatest race achievement. The rest of July and August were full of running (as well as swimming to prepare for college swim team). Words will never describe the happiness I was to win that race.
After training all summer, I made it up to my first 30 mile week and headed off to preseason camp in late August. I was instantly hooked. My first cross country season served as a lot of things for me. I learned anything and everything about running. It was a successful season for me, and I won MVP for our team! I wanted next season to come the second after I crossed the finish line of our regional race.
After my first cross country season ended I continued swimming for my college swim team. I had been swimming all my life I wasn’t going to give that up (yet). After my last cross country race of the season, I had to give up running and just focus on swimming, as hard as it was I couldn’t swim four hours a day and then run. Yeah..no.
To put it in simple terms, junior year of swim team was the worst I had ever had. I was miserable and didn’t do well. I had fun with my friends but that is about all I can say.
In early February 2011 I was so excited to start running again-so excited that I got injured within a week . I fractured my heel on the treadmill. I could walk but running hurt. My first overzealous and overuse injury. I didn’t run again for another month and a half.
Then after learning that lesson, I started smartly running and building my miles up and ran 3 half marathons. Those races kept me excited and I fell in love with the distance races. Nothing can ever take away from crossing the line of my first half marathon in Plattsburgh.
I didn’t have any good races in the 2011 summer, but I did have the memorable one. The Run Swim Run that I had won last year is when I got my stress fracture. I was in first place when it happened and I felt the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I watched hundreds of people run past me and it was heartbreaking but it was enough to make me realize that my training needed to change. I cried.
I cried and cried and cried and cried and thought my running was over forever. I cried more then any boyfriend problems, any family issues…all I did was cry. (Now I know that stress fractures happen and they heal). It was my first major running injury. It taught me my body is not invincible.
I had two months to think about my injury (and cry some more). I was scared to sit out my entire cross country season. I sat about half of it out and ran the other half. September was always on my mind since it was when I was allowed to run again. Although my second cross country season was nowhere where I wanted it to be-it was still fun. I loved it. It gave me hope for Spring racing.
That Spring I PRed (1:27.19) and won the Plattsburgh half marathon. That will always be my favorite race. Everything about that race went smoothly. This picture describes how I ran the entire time.
The spring and summer of 2012, I continued to train for my final collegiate season of cross country. I knew what I had to do to get to nationals and worked my ass off. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. I logged between 80-90 mile weeks. I did everything well. I followed my coaches advice and schedule. I took my easy runs easy, hard runs hard. I made it through spring and summer injury free and moved to Oswego, NY to intern.
The first few weeks of Oswego were great. The first race for college cross country was great.
I got second overall behind an already nationally ranked runner. The second race I began to feel immense heel pain. After lots of doctors visits, it was determined I had an overgrown cyst similar to plantar fasciitis…It was unfortanate it had to occur in my foot. Why not in my arm..or anywhere else? Then at least I could run…I had to sit out 2 months and watch as my dream of making it to nationals was crushed.
I learned a lot about myself in those two months as I was in a new area, didn’t have running and didn’t have very many friends. I was beyond lost. After two months, the podiatrist decided (out of the blue) to give me a cortisone shot and it healed within a week. That was it? After all of that…the cyst shrank and it healed. I decided on a whim (after not running for 2 months) to race our final race. I ended up PRing from pure cross training and set off my new found love of carefree running.
After PRing, I started to log miles again. Easy, basebuilding, untimed miles. I entered the lottery for the Nike Women’s half and got in. It gave me a half marathon goal 5 months out and somewhat lit a spark back into my running. I wasn’t really training for anything else and still was devastated with how NCAA running had turned out. After coming home in March and with no sights on a half PR. I did. I dropped 2 minutes at Shamrock half marathon. I didn’t even know I was capable of running a 1:25.14 half marathon.
I let go of PRing at the Nike women’s half a month later because it was impossible for me to think I could bounce back that quickly.
But I did. I ended up running a 1:24.49 and bettering my time more. Not only did I PR but I finished 9th overall. 9th out of 15,000 people. I finally had a race I could say I was proud of. It showed me truly that you never really know what you are capable of. I said I would enter the lottery system for the New York City Marathon when I broke 1:25. I personally thought it would be a lot longer then now but I used my qualified time and got in.
The end of the summer and after PRing again this summer in the 5k (18:35) I trained for my first full marathon. During the last weekend of summer, I was hit by a cyclist. While cooling down after setting an 8k PR, I was hit by a tourist riding their bike on the VA Beach boardwalk. They hit me, broke my elbow (a very small break) and kept on riding.
After moving four times in one training cycle (From Oswego, to VA Beach, to Texas, to NJ) I ran my first marathon (NYC) in 3:17.23. Despite having a strong race I know I am capable of more. After the marathon I needed two months off. That race took a toll on my body more than I will ever be able to explain and I had no desire to run or race for a long time.
In the Winter of 2014 I focused on raising money and awareness for the Eating Disorders and Ophelia’s Place. I surprised myself staying injury free through the winter, raising $2500 for Ophelia’s Place and running a 1:25.32 Lake Effect half marathon on casual training. That is another proud moment of mine. To raise money for something you are passionate about as well as win a race is such a rewarding experience.
After the Lake Effect Half Marathon, I ran the April Fools Half Marathon in Atlantic City. I came in second place and PRed with a time of 1:23.23. That served to be my only PR in 2014. I also ran Broad Street 10 miler in May.
Then in early Summer, I began having symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis. I was training for the Wineglass Marathon. My goal for Wineglass was simple: to break 3 hours. I took two weeks off of running and was proactive to get it taken care of. It went away and in August I found myself with symptoms of a second metatarsal stress fracture. After going to the doctor, I was diagnosed with a second metatarsal stress fracture. This was the first injury I cannot tell you how it came about. I had been properly training, recovering and resting. I received a bone scan and everything was normal.
Needless to say it wiped me from running any fall marathons. Now in November (after 2 months off), I am ready to slowly ease back into running. I can’t tell you where next year will go. As Natasha Bedingfield says: The rest is just unwritten.
I am still chasing a sub 3 hour marathon. I’m also pretending to plan a wedding and working…so I guess you can only chase so many things.
From failing the mile in 7th grade to running to training for a marathon a little more then a decade later. I truly cannot express how much joy running has brought me and for more things to come.
I can only hope this is the beginning of a life long journey.