Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My 1st Love

Yes, I made the jump into the world of triathlon 3 years ago. Okay, maybe jump is too strong of a word. I couldn’t swim at all 3 years ago, so how about this – I waded into the world of triathlon. I now enjoy swimming more than I thought possible (except for that pesky hyperventilating thing in the open water). I really, really like to bike (except for the fear of bad roads and crazy-ass drivers). But, I must confess…


Now, as I am sure you’ve gathered, I am not a naturally gifted runner. I’ve had to work hard to even run a 5k with a sub-10 minute pace. But, I love it anyway. In fact, maybe that’s why I love to run. You work hard – you get results.

Measurable results.

Quantitative data. I love it. It must be the type-A in me. What I don’t love is that sometimes, no matter how good of shape you’re in and how hard you’ve trained, your body doesn’t always cooperate. This is the case with my stupid hip.

How did this love of running begin?

A little over 10 years ago I was about 6 months away from my 30th birthday. I had a list titled, “Things to do before you turn 30!” The list contained lots of goals – many were very attainable, but some were not. For example, I had bungee jumped, gone sky diving and lost 30 pounds. Attainable. I had not yet travelled to Giza or Kenya, and I had not taken flying lessons. Not unattainable, but given my salary at the time and the amount of debt I had still lingering from college, I might as well have written “travel to the moon and back.” However, there was one other goal I had written the previous year after walking a 5k race with a friend. That friend had been a runner, but had to stop due to knee issues. She talked me into jogging a bit of that 5k here and there. That evening, I added something new to my list – “Run a 5k” and then added, “without stopping or puking.”

I had a treadmill at home that I used faithfully for walking. In June of 2001, I began running on it. I was not fast and the progression was slow. But each week, I added a little more distance and was pleased with my improvement. I’ll never forget calling my husband at work around 9 pm just to tell him that I had run 2 miles without stopping for the first time ever! I never ran a 5k that year…instead, I kept going. I made it to 3 miles on the treadmill and thought, “Hey, why not try for 4?” Then, I made it to 4 and thought, “Wow, it’d be really cool to say I could run 5 miles without stopping!” Then, about the time that I made it to 6 miles, my friend MH, who was training for her 2nd marathon, told me that Houston would be hosting a ½ marathon for the first time and that I ought to consider training for it. Let’s be honest here….before I met MH, I didn’t even know Houston had a marathon. I was one of those people who asked, “How many miles is that marathon? What about that one?”

That was around September. I seriously considered the ½ marathon. Finally, I decided that I was going to go for it! I searched on-line and studied all the different training programs. I ultimately decided on the Hal Higdon beginner ½ marathon training program. I will never forget spending Thanksgiving Day with my family with the Hubby proudly telling everyone how I had run 9 miles the day before. Me! A runner! Who would have thunk it?

Not me. That’s for sure.

Let's back up a bit...growing up, I was a dancer – ballet, tap and jazz. I also enjoyed gymnastics – beam and floor exercise were my favorites. I wasn't especially gifted at either, but I was passionate about both, I worked hard and they consumed all my spare time.  But running? Hell to the no. However, there was one summer before my freshman year in high school when I had a goofy idea. I had decided that that summer that I was going to work up to running 1 mile. I knew I’d be taking the big physical fitness test that fall and I didn’t want to be the loser walking the 1.5 mile run. My street was a dead end and ¼ of a mile long…over the course of the summer, I worked my way up to running 4 laps back and forth. Success! After the physical fitness test, I quickly stopped running. I wanted to go back to the activities I could do in the comfort of the air conditioner.

So anyway, by race day I was pretty much ready for the Houston ½ marathon. Except my longest run had only been another 9-miler. And, I knew nothing about nutrition. And, on race day I was wearing Nike soccer shorts, cotton socks, a cotton shirt and outlet mall Nike running shoes. But, I was super excited to be doing the race.  And, I had an awesome experience! My parents and Hubby came out to cheer. Two of my friends even came out to support me. At mile 9, I gave my Hubby a kiss and told him that I felt great. The final 1 ½ miles were a little rough, but once I crossed the finish line, I felt like a superstar! I felt invincible. I felt like I could kick Chuck Norris’ butt! To make things even more exciting, I was able to see the winners of the Marathon pass as I approached Downtown Houston and the finish line.  It was amazing!

My very 1st medal!  I was so thrilled to finish the race, only to find out that they had run out of medals.  Not to fear, they mailed it to me the following week.

Before I knew it, I was joining MH’s running group to train for the 2003 Houston Marathon. And, as they say, the rest is history. I became a running addict.


Running keeps me sane. It is my therapy. I know there are t-shirts that say this, but for me it really is true. It’s my quiet time, my thinking time, my sanctuary. It’s my social time, my get the stress out time, my become one with nature time. Running has been a loyal friend. It’s gotten me through tough times at work, grad school, a new house, two pregnancies and so much more. Hot, cold, raining, freezing – I have had both awesome and bad runs in all these conditions. It’s easy – throw on some shoes and head out the door. It’s hard – injuries, dehydration, and crappy runs. But still, nothing stops me from wanting to do it again. Without running, life is just not quite complete.

I *heart* my dear friend running. Even though I sometimes cheat on running with bikes and swimming pools, I always come back to it.

Thank you my dear friend running for being my 1st love.

A few pics from my early running days...

Me at the end of my 1st 21-miler while training for the 2003 Houston Marathon...I was feeling awesome (And I was doing that flappy thing with my left hand way back then, too)!
A couple of pics from my 1st NYC Marathon in 2003...Left - me, near the finish.  I am not sure why I stopped...I am so close to the freaking finish!  Right - Me and my Houston Fit peeps (including MH) after the race.

How did you get started in running?  Is it your first love, or is there something else you're passionate about?


Lisa said...

Awesome post!
I believe most of if not all of us feel the same way about running. It can be so "minimalistic" yet so "techy". All you need is your running shoes, really, but we go for the moisture wicking clothing & garmin. I'll always love it more than biking. It's just easier to change shoes than it is to change tires. ;-)

Robin said...

I wrote a post about running being my friend earlier this week. It is definitely my 1st love! www.dashingdiva.net

Amanda @ Click. The Good News said...

Running is my first love too. I did a few triathlons one summer, but quickly returned to running for the long haul. I"m a new reader & need to go check out your NY marathon review- I got in for this fall :)

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

running is for sure my first love and any time i'm injured i'm kind of a nut job because I miss it so much. i agree that for me it is a lot about never thinking of myself as a runner and this intense pride i feel that i can

Stephanie said...

Swimming is actually my first love (we should do a relay)and I'm fully convinced that swimmers can't do anything but swim.

I love your early running pictures!

saroy said...

I was a runner first too, and it's still what I turn to most frequently because it's just so easy! Minimal gear required, and all you have to do is walk out your front door.

Tara @ texasrunnergirl.com said...

We have somewhat similar stories. I had a bucket list to tackle by 30 but mine was to do a marathon by 30. I didn't hit that goal but I did when I was 31! Close enough. I do love running but I'm starting to get into this biking thing. Hesitate about swimming.

Laura said...

I love this post! Running is my first love, too... what is it about runners and typd-A personalities. :) I'm featuring some runner's stories about why they run and this would be an awesome post to add to the mix... let me know if you'd be up for sharing it. :)

TX Runner Mom said...

Laura - Sure, I'd love to share it!

Milady said...

Melanie here! I enjoyed this piece, please email me--I have a question about your blog. MelanieLBowen[at]gmail[dot]com