Friday, January 29, 2010

A not so brief history of me and running

It’s been awhile since I wrote anything related to my diet and exercise regimen... so here you go—a not so brief history of me and running.

I have a complicated relationship with running. I dread doing it, but I am always happy when I am done. Running is hard. It uses a lot of oxygen and works a lot of muscles. The thing is, there is no exercise that clears my head quite as well as running. There is no sport that makes me sweat as much. And there is no exercise that helps me shed pounds as quickly.

I first remember running with my dad on the golf course when I was pretty young. We probably ran about a mile or so and I loved the early morning fog and the peace of the golf course. I liked spending time with my dad; as the oldest of three kids it was a rare moment for me to have time alone with either parent.

In junior high we had to run one mile. The “course” was along the road from the school to the park and back again. I ran it the first time with my friend Jamie and we were so proud of our 11-minute time. For some reason I liked running the mile and I joined the Spring View track team. Eventually I was able to run the mile as fast as 6:43, which today seems like an impossible feat for me!

I ran off and on through high school. By then I was most interested in water polo and didn’t spend much time in my running shoes. I picked it back up again in college thanks to my crazy aerobics and fitness teacher. She challenged me to run my first 5k in the Carlsbad 5000. Carlsbad is a good distance from San Diego so I had to convince someone in the dorm with a car to run it with me so that I would have a ride. I called my parents on the way home to tell them how excited I was for doing it. It was such a great feeling.

When I lived in Spain during my junior year of college I ran on a beautiful outdoor course in flat open land behind my house. I bought a pair of Spanish running shoes, which I finally just got rid of after eight years. Upon my return to college I ran less and less. Finally running just wasn’t part of my life anymore.

My first year teaching I shared a classroom with a teacher who was a runner. She ran between four and six miles each day. I could not comprehend running that much. I watched her as her husband became ill and passed away. She used running as an escape. I was inspired by her to start running again.

My return to running was rough. Running even one mile seemed impossible to me. I couldn’t fathom the four to six miles my coworker was running. But every week I went back to the gym and lengthened my distance just a little, sometimes only a tenth of a mile at a time. Eventually I was running four, five and six miles. The following fall my sister challenged me to 10k—a distance of 6.2 miles in the Davis Turkey Trot. It was the furthest I had ever run and I didn’t think I could run more.

Then my sister asked me to train for a half marathon. I am the least athletic in the family, but I try my hardest to keep up with the younger, more athletically gifted siblings of mine. We found Hal Higgon’s training materials and got started. The half marathon was in March. I was in my second year of teaching, coaching swimming and planning a wedding. Two weeks before the half marathon I got sick—I couldn’t work and I couldn’t run. So I ran a 5k instead and cheered for my sister as she finished the half marathon without me.

I continued running off and on throughout my first year of marriage. In December of 2008 Brandon and I decided to try the half marathon again. We revisited Hal Higdon and in March of 2009 I completed the Shamrock’n Half Marathon with my husband, sister and friend. My training had prepared me well through about nine miles, but I hadn’t run much more than that while training. I didn’t think I could make the last four miles, but I did in a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes and 57 seconds which was well under my goal of 2 hours, 30 minutes. It was definitely not a record setting pace, but I finished.

When I saw my parents in the stands at Raley Field, I told them that I would never want to do that again or run a full marathon (my dad ran three marathons in his day). But now that nearly a year has passed I have the itch to push myself further and see what I can do. Since I started swimming last summer I decreased how much I was running. In the last month as my husband prepares for a full marathon (go babe!) I have returned to running again. I am currently running 3-4 miles three times per week. I am running mostly on the treadmill because it is cold outside and I like that I can watch TV to distract me. I don’t know where I am running next or what the distance will be, but whether it be 3.1, 6.2, 13.1 or 26.2 miles (who the hell came up with these random distances? Ok I know the first two are converted from metric, but since when did America adopt anything from metric?), I know that with a little determination and a LOT of training, I can make it across any finish line.

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