Here’s my story of how I really began running. Looking back I thought I started running to get some exercise, lose a few pounds (of college weight) and then I remembered that an ex I had, who’d been a cross country star, told me I’d never be a runner. I think that sparked my interest to start and to prove him wrong.
When I began running it was 2007. I started out small, signing up for a few 5Ks on UNC-CH campus with the big goal of running the Cooper River Bridge Run (10K) a few months later. I pulled a co-worker into that plan and we would run after work multiple days a week. I started feeling that I could do it and come that April I completed my first 10K with a time of 1:03:41. I kept at that strategy running 5Ks and ran Cooper River again the following year (08) my time wasn’t as good but I still felt like I was doing alright with the running thing. A few Raleigh friends convinced me to sign up for a half marathon in VA beach which was a pretty lofty goal at that time but hey you only live once so I thought I’d give it a go. Then I found out that spring that I would be moving to DC that fall to start grad school and running kind of slipped off my radar for a bit. I tried to get in some training runs but didn’t really know how to train. So come Fall of 2008 I lined up for the RNR Va Beach Half. It was so stinking hot that day- but I managed to run/walk the race and finish around 2:45, which considering how much training I hadn’t done I felt pretty dang good about. Then grad school began and running really took a back seat to life.
Fast forward a year later, a close friend found this fun race out in Delaware, attached to the Dogfish Brewery, I decided to go ahead and sign up (stupidly for the 10K) and suffered through all 6 miles deciding that I needed to go out and get some running done. So later that fall I purchased new Nike running shoes with the sensor, got the adapter for my Ipod and an arm band. I started getting some runs in along the Capital Crescent trail and kept this up for a bit (upgrading to the sports band and ditching the Ipod Arm Band later). I ran off and on for a good portion of 2010 signing up for a couple of fall races (Dogfish again but only the 5K!) and completed the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in spring 2011 running the entire time. It was at that moment I think that I realized what my body was capable of and I thought I could really do this.
In the fall of 2011, tried to get more of a handle on running. My then boyfriend (now husband) had moved to Michigan for grad school and I was pretty lonely so I turned to exercise. What a fabulous choice that was! That fall I ran four almost back to back races faster than I ever had and decided to try the half marathon distance again that spring at RNR DC. It would be the first time I had tried that distance again since the sweaty run/walk of VA Beach in 2008. I spent all winter training and come time for the race I finished with a fantastic time of 2:09:04!! What an accomplishment that was for me. I ran a few more races that spring, including the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler again (time of 1:33:45) and tried another half in Raleigh, 2:13:33. After that I was a little fatigued so I took a break, shorter runs, not much over the summer.
Fall of 2012 I started getting back into a rhythm and then registered to run Disney and entered the lottery for Nike Women. I spent most of that winter training to try and break my time from RNR DC. Disney Princess Half came up fast and furiously at the end of February. I was running with a small group of friends and we got to spend time at the Disney parks which was awesome. 🙂 I had been training in winter temps so to run in Florida in 60 degree weather with 99% humidity… let’s just say the race wasn’t kind to any of us. I had the best time (which is my worst running half time to date) of 2:17:44. So while running Disney was fun the humidity was not. But I was hoping that I could redeem myself with the Nike Women’s Inaugural Half in DC. What a fantastic race. It was definitely one of the most expensive races I’ve done but it was so well organized and there were cheerers and music throughout the entire thing. Plus you got the Tiffany’s necklace at the end delivered to you on a silver platter but hot men in suits. Win-win. And! I logged my current half PR: 2:07:30. Was beyond proud of my accomplishment.
I took another run break after and only signed up for one half in the fall of 2013- Hershey Half Marathon through Hershey Park with JJ. Unfortunately my summer training was little lax and about a month before the race I strained my IT band. 😦 Cue foam rolling and lots of cross training to get my through that half. I ended up running part of the race with JJ finishing one of my slower times but it was nice to spend the race with someone. Normally I just run along, too focused to have conversation or stay with a friend.
After Hershey I took a very long break from running, focusing on strength and core training at a local gym called Solidcore. I spent a large portion of 2014 focused on wedding planning and moving and so only registered for 2 half marathons- one in the spring: RNR Raleigh and one in the fall: Avengers Half in Disneyland. Raleigh was again not my fastest (thanks to the heat!!) but I did get to run the entire race with my bestie, Kristi. She is a super runner but had been having knee problems- so she was taking it easy by running at my pace. After Raleigh, I focused solely on staying in shape for the wedding and packing up my DC life to move to WI. Fall training wasn’t bad in WI because the weather turned to Fall pretty quickly after we arrived. Outdoor training was nice! Of course I was a little worried about the temps in CA but that turned out ok. Avengers was the windiest race I’ve ever run. I liked Disneyland but am partial to Disneyworld. I ended up at 2:09:05 so still not close to breaking 2 hours. One day I’ll get there.
Winter came to Wisconsin and so I turned to the local gym to do weight lifting and treadmill running. Windchill is no joke here so I wasn’t interested in running outside. We just started back outdoors in March to start prepping for this season’s races. I had 5 races on the schedule: Eisenbahn (WI), Alexandria (VA), Bellin Run, RNR Chicago and SeaWheeze in Vancouver. As the half marathons were close in date I finally achieved a bucketlist item- becoming a Half Fanatic! But let’s talk about that racing season. I spent a large chunk of time indoors and while I thought I’d prepped enough for the outdoor races I soon discovered after the Bellin Run that I had ramped up too fast.
At Eisenbahn, Jon (husband) and I ran together (it was his first half marathon) and we were feeling pretty good until the turnaround. I came within :07 of my PR. UGH SO CLOSE. I thought I would take it down at Alexandria since I’d been so close at Eisenbahn but of course the weather came out in full force. High heat and humidity and I was just happy to finish that course! It was my friend, Wynsor’s first half marathon and for such a challenging course she did great! She swore never again but I’ve coaxed her in to a few more races since then. In June, Jon and I traveled to Green Bay to run the Bellin Run 10K. I was looking forward to taking down that PR- and did finally achieve it! But at a cost of a strained hip flexor. 😦 I battled against that injury for the rest of my season. I knew I probably should take a break but in order to get my Half Fanatic status I had to complete RNR Chicago. What a miserable race experience that was. Unbearably hot, blisters and I had to walk so much of the course that I could not WAIT for it to be over. And then to close out the year I flew to Vancouver to take part in Seawheeze. A weekend that is so much more than a race. The weather was amazing and I thought if I only I wasn’t injured I could have beasted that course.
I took almost 2 months off from running after that to completely heal. I focused on strength training and yoga, and then slowly started walking and then running again. During my time off we moved to Blacksburg, VA (closer to home and friends) and I joined the Oiselle team. I was hoping to meet other runners in the area and this sisterhood of women seemed like a great place to start. Of course once I was signed up I discovered I was alone in SW VA BUT the online presence of the group was amazing. My first race back, a turkey trot 5K in Asheville, I met one of the elite Oiselle runners. She was so nice and stayed to cheer me in at the finish. I was so happy to be a part of the group and couldn’t wait to meet more ‘birds.’
As I moved into 2016 my running was starting to get back on track and I signed up with Kristi for the Run The Year challenge. We each were to take on 1008 miles in the year. It seemed daunting but doable and I was excited to have something to work toward. We also signed up to run RNR Nashville (one of my bucketlist races). I added a few more to my list for the year- VA Wine Country Half and Seawheeze again- I was going for redemption. I ended up using a local ten miler, Blacksburg Classic, as a training run and ran an evening 5K with a new Oiselle bird in the area! I closed out the year with another 5K, the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon, City of Oaks Marathon Relay and finally the Ridgewood 8K.
I started the year out strong but again got too cocky and irritated my IT band so March and April were kind of down months for me. RNR Nashville did not go so well (rain, humid, hills) but Nashville itself was a lot of fun. I was diligent in my spinning and strength training after that and improved my time by 10 minutes at the VA Wine Half (still humid). I also got to attend Southern Bird Camp at Zap Fitness in June- really took a hard look at my running form, talked over with a coach what I needed to do to get better and faster and finally break my sub 2 hour goal. Fantastic weekend I can’t say enough nice things about. I ran a solid 5K in Blacksburg after that- feeling like I could have been faster. Then focused myself to prepare for Seawheeze. Of course we were finally taking our Ireland honeymoon and despite my best efforts I only got a couple of runs in overseas. I pushed a little too hard upon return to make sure I was going to be good for Vancouver and developed some ankle tendinitis. I ran the race (of course this year it was humid) and finished ok but not where I wanted to be. I was pretty frustrated with my performance at this point.
But! Then I went to DC to run a 5K with JJ and came away with a :30 PR!!! Finally back in the 26 min range. So maybe I was improving I just needed to give myself the space to do it. I kept training with spinning on the side to go run for fun- the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. My friend Brooklyn, who I met at camp, convinced me to join her for the weekend. And I have to say we had the best time. It’s been awhile since I ran a race and enjoyed myself so much. We chatted the whole time, high-fived people, just enjoyed ourselves and you know what I came within :30 of my half PR. But not caring and just having fun. New mantra for running as I move forward.
Next up was the City of Oaks Marathon Relay. I was originally scheduled for the 5 mile section but had to help out another wounded bird and took on the 8 miler. I ran with Marie the entire time and again we had so much fun. Lastly I came back to Raleigh for Thanksgiving and ran the Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8K. A fun out and back (but pretty hilly!). Closing out the year- I did a lot of walking and cross training while finishing up the Runtheyear challenge. I accomplished my 1008 miles and then took a break.
2 weeks off completely from running. Just spinning, yoga, and weightlifting. I definitely missed it but knew I need to give my tendinitis time to heal. Now that 2017 is going I’ve been back running for a few weeks now, I have a solid plan to move forward and I’m taking it one day at a time. May this be the year of no injuries! You can check out my race list to see where I’ll be racing this spring!
And 2017 ended up being quite the year! I planned, trained, and worked my butt off on running. I got new PRs in both the 5K and 10 Mile distances. Then I ended up injured and out of commission for most of the summer. After that I found out we were pregnant… with twins!! So running continued but slowly for the remainder of the year. I completed an 8K in Richmond at 20weeks which I am incredibly proud of and closed out pregnant running at 30 weeks with a total of 183.6 miles. Surprisingly the twins arrived just 5 weeks later and we were of course smitten. I was cleared to run after 6 weeks and am in the process of building back my fitness, strengthening my core and becoming a stronger, smarter than I was before! Looking to close out 2018 with s