As I sat down to write about my running story, I realized that I began running 25 years ago! And all I could think was: How the #%$@! did that happen? and I felt really old. Truth be told though, as I start back into running again to lose the recent baby weight, running has kept me young at heart (literally) and it’s been quite a journey. And there’s a lot my bio doesn’t even cover. It’s not the many accolades from my racing days that stand out, as much as it is that I have persevered and have always returned to it.
I began steady running my freshman year in high school. I had always been a standout on field day in grade school. So I decided to go out for cross country. (Did I mention I was really a sprinter in disguise yet?) Oh yeah, that was a decision based on absolutely no knowledge of running genetics. Or running period. My mom took me to the local Kinney’s and we purchased a pair of “running” shoes (hey these were probably just like many of the minimalist shoes today, right?) and I was off and running. I went from doing absolutely no exercise that summer to attempting to run 4 miles the first day of practice. And I was so sore the next few weeks, I could barely walk up and down stairs. So I hobbled into the counselors office (who happened to be one of the coaches) with said parent in tow and begged to quit. They promptly encouraged me to stick it out a bit longer, so I did. Even though I came in 3rd to last my first race. Even though the state champion miler on our team would cheer me on and join in the many “pity” claps I got for finishing a workout. Even though it took the head cross country coach two years to learn my name. And he did eventually because I later led my track team to the state title my senior year.
I learned a lot about running those years and how I like runners and how they are a great crowd to hang out with. I ran cross country all 4 years even though I was never on varsity mainly because I enjoyed the camaraderie. I learned what real running shoes are and that I really had no strength or muscles to speak of when I started running (I was a skinny mini) and even though I was skinny, I was out of shape. I made it my goal my senior year to not walk during any workouts or races and was able to accomplish this.
My college essay wasn’t about how fast I was in track but how cross country was a metaphor for life and how I stuck with it during tough times. I earned a scholarship and had a successful track career in college even though it was filled with far too many injuries. (I’m now a PT in part due to that as I wanted to know why there weren’t any PT’s doing gait analysis back then). I added the heptathlon to my arsenal and had to do 3 mile campus loops in addition to training for sprinting, hurdling, jumping and throwing. I remember the day I was rounding the loop at practice finishing up, closing in on my fastest 5k time of 23 minutes and feeling very proud and super fast. Suddenly the girls distance team came tearing past me leaving me in their wake. I had to laugh at that one.
So I kept at it over the years, dabbling in distance to keep in shape, entering a few sprint races here and there after graduating, running to de-stress in grad school or after a long day of work. I met my husband over the commonality of running and coaching (he has a degree in sports psychology), have run in-shape and out of shape, 10 pounds over at times and and baby in tow during others. I’ve enjoyed road races as they have begun to become more popular and contributed my knowledge as a coach. Looking back I can say running has been good to me after twenty-five years and I hope to give it at least 25 more. And hopefully it will keep me younger than I now feel old.
What’s your running journey?