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Becoming a Runner

Back in 2001, I ran in my very first race.  It was a local 5k and it was exhilarating!  After finishing the race, I remember telling Prince Charming that I wanted to go back through the course and do it all over again! 

Now, I had never before been a "runner" by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, I had despised running.  I played soccer and basketball all throughout high school and continued to play soccer through college.  In high school, I also participated on the track team, but I was a sprinter and a high jumper...never a long distance runner.  In basketball and soccer, whenever we had to run for our coaches, it was always a "punishment". 

One year, though, I had seen a poster for a 5k and thought that that was something I would like to do some day.  It wasn't until many years later that I actually became a runner. 

A few months after my very first race in 2001, I had been in a car accident that left me with lasting back and neck injuries.  That next year, when the same local 5k rolled around again, I had so much pain, I couldn't even have stood there to watch The Race.  It was bad enough that I ended up going to physical therapy 3 times a week for 3 years, approximately 2 hours each time.  It consumed my life.

 

Gradually, though, I was making progress and getting better.  Finally, it came to a point where the physical therapists believed that I would be fine, so long as I joined a local gym and continued to stay active.  To this day, whenever I am sedentary for any period of time, I have back and neck pain again. 

However, the point is that I.got.better.  And once I got better, I didn't ever want to go back.  I started to increase my activity gradually and finally, I was able to run again.  I couldn't WAIT until that year's Race!  So I began training, although, at that point, I really had no idea what it meant to really train.  Still, I did put effort into it.  It was so much fun running that Race again and being part of the excitement.  I thrived on it.  Of course, I am just a middle-of-the-packer, but it is still thrilling to come down the hill toward the finish line, hundreds of spectators cheering you on.  There is just nothing like it. 

The following year, I ran a few 5ks, but that was about it.  I still was not very aware of the racing circuit in my area.  I had no clue what races there were, or even that there were distances you could race that were larger than a 5k. Gasp!  the Shock!  The Horror!  (Because as much as I enjoyed the thrill of the race, at the end of a 5k, I.was.done.)

So the following year, while I was at the expo for The Race again, a friend asked me if I wanted to do a 5 miler with her the following weekend.  I nearly choked!  What?!? Run more than a 5k?  Are you KIDDING me????  That was not happening.  Why would I ever want to run more than 3.1 miles?  I am gasping for air by the time I am finished with that distance?  How the heck would I manage to do more???  But the funny thing is, her question to me did put a little thought in the back of my head that stuck with me...maybe some day I could do a race a little larger than a 5k. Maybe.

And then, of course, there was the fact that I had just signed up for and received my very first issue of Runner's World magazine that month.  When I looked it over, though, I recall being somewhat disappointed.  This magazine was mostly about people who ran like half-marathons and marathons and stuff.  I would never do that!  Maybe it was a waste of money ordering my subscription?

Still, I read each article of every magazine, hoping for tips that would apply to my smaller races.  And there were some...but only a few. 

Several weeks later, I was at a friend's house, lounging by the pool.  We were just chatting away, catching up on each other's activities during the first few weeks of the summer.  I told her about how I had continued running since The Race, and that I had managed to increase my distance a little bit past the 3.1 miles.  I don't recall how much I had run at that point, perhaps close to 5.  In any case, I explained to her that I was starting to think that some day I might want to do a longer race, but that I wasn't quite sure about it. 

Now, I love this friend dearly.  In fact, I consider one of my closest and dearest friends.  But, we do not have the running or athleticism in common.  At all.  I have been after her for years to be more active, but sadly, it falls on deaf ears.  In any case, I was explaining my new-found knowledge of running...you know, like people actually run for 26.2 miles, to my non-athletic friend (who was only half-listening at that point).  Luckily, she had listened just enough and told me that I should speak with her roommate at the time, who had just gotten back from some "20 mile race or something". 

Now you must know, that at this point, I still considered a marathon to be some absurd thing that only VERY fit and slightly crazy people did.  You should also know that at this point in my life I was thinking that perhaps I might consider doing a half at some point, but that would be way, way down the road, at some very distant point in the future (after I had been training FOREVER and finally made it to that point). 

Well, my friend insisted that I speak with her roommate and even brought me inside to speak with her, despite my hesitance and my requests not to.  Her roommate was very happy to talk with me, though, and explain to me that, yes, I could run a marathon, too.  I continued to protest with her for a few minutes until she went and retrieved her Binder.  The Binder.  The sacred Team In Training Binder.  The Binder that would change my life.  The Binder that had hidden within it the secrets to training for a marathon...if you would only just help raise money for a good cause.  To find out more about Team In Training and my experiences with it, you'll have to read my Team In Training page.   ;)

In any case, this roommate of my very dear friend told me to take the Binder home and look it over. 

Which.is.exactly.what.I.did. 

Only, I couldn't put it down.  I was so very excited about the possibilities that lay within it.  And.what.it.would.mean.for.me. 

It was the perfect fusion of learning something new, getting in great shape, losing a few pounds, doing good for others, and honoring my grandmother's memory.  For my grandmother had passed away in 1998 of Leukemia.  And this Team In Training thing raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  How could I NOT do it? 
Life is good. Free shipping and returns

Needless to say, I could not stop thinking about this Team In Training thing.  And The Binder did make me believe I could do it.  And if I could do that, then, well, it would only be AWESOME!!!  I simply had to join!  Even though Prince Charming and I were ready to settle down and start a family, I realized there was this one.itty.bitty thing that I had to do before we had children...So what did I do?  I joined the Team In Training and started training for my first marathon in 2005. 

And that, folks, is how I became a Marathoner.  That's right...Gasp!  Shock!  Disbelief! The Horror of 26.2 miles!  Hahaha!  Perhaps I am one of those crazy people, too?!  Just wait until you read about The Year of The Marathons! :)


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