Have you ever had one of those moments when you wonder how you actually got to where you are now because it seems so unreal? Or maybe you just never imagined that you would be here or have ever thought you were capable of being her? Well, I had one of those moments this past weekend and it really made me realize how far I’ve come as a runner over the past 7 years. The journey from 5K to 50K has been filled with ups and downs and many, many miles!
When I started running in late 2006, I was slow. Honestly, I’m not sure you could really call it running. I had just started the Couch to 5K program and found it really challenging. Remember in gym class in middle school that there was always that one kid that was super slow and could barely make it through the mile? That was me! And it wasn’t because I was overweight or had some other kind of health issue that prevented me from doing at least reasonably well. I just hated running and exerting myself. I can’t say I liked it much better when I was in my early 30s. I just felt like it was something I needed to do to keep my weight under control and avoid some of those negative things that come from getting older and being sedentary. Besides, how hard could a 5K be anyway, right? So I signed up for a 5K. I walked most of that first one and had a less than impressive time but it was interesting to see the people that were there. Some were short, some tall, some young, some old, some heavy, and some looked like the picture of the “typical” runner I always had in my head. After the race, I noticed several people partially running the course again. That seemed kind of show-off-ish and crazy at the same time. I could see that some of those people were running like 5 or 6 miles! That just seemed excessive! Little did I know what my future held….
I ran a few more 5Ks and started getting a little better and running more and walking less. Not to brag, but I could finish a 5K in about 34 minutes. J And I was pretty proud of that too! I kept after it and eventually got to the point that I could consistently run close to a 30 minute 5K. Not impressive to many people, but I thought that’s the best I could do. I really liked seeing measurable improvement and decided I would try a 10K. It took me a long time to finish that first 10K and I wasn’t able to run the entire distance but it wasn’t too bad. The best part is that it made running a 5K seem much easier. That’s when I started seeing steady improvement in my 5K times. At some point, I really started enjoying running and was doing it pretty consistently. I can’t say for sure when that happened but I was starting to run races almost every weekend.
Once you get up to a 10K, a 15K doesn’t seem like that much more. So why not run a 15K? And that’s what I did! I still took walk breaks to catch my breath, but realized that I was running much more than I was walking. Of course that got me thinking….if I can run a 5K, a 10K, and a 15K, why not a half marathon? If you’re not a runner, you may not understand how reasonable that statement is. Any runner will understand. But I was drawing the line there. I mean, seriously, who would run a marathon? I don’t even like to drive 26.2 miles. No way in the world I would ever do that! Yeah….famous last words.
Running a half marathon really seemed like a huge, huge feat. And it was! I didn’t train as well as I should have and didn’t really have enough experience under my belt to run it well. I struggled through that race but crossing the finish line was indescribable. It was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life! But I was NOT eager to do another one anytime soon. That was April 2007. When fall came around, I heard about a half marathon challenge. The challenge was to run 2 half marathons 6 weeks apart. That shouldn’t be too difficult. Running a half marathon is good training for a half marathon, right? Runners logic again….
The first half of that challenge was a bad race for me. I struggled even more than with the first race. I don’t remember the specifics of my training but I would say it wasn’t where it should have been. After that race, I wasn’t even sure if I could run the next one. But I did and took 1 minute off my time. I finished both of those halfs somewhere around 2 hours and 40 minutes.
After that, I ran races here and there and before I knew it, I had run 10 and my times were getting significantly better. I was closer to the 2:10-2:15 range then. And then the marathon thoughts started coming. I decided when I was able to run a half under 2:10, then I would start training for a full marathon. And then I did it…. I ran a 2:07!