Mike over at Running Around the Bend had been talking about his running story-how he got into the sport, the twists and turns it’s taken over the years, and naturally it brought me to my own running story. I didn’t start running until I was 27. My mom had been a runner most of my life, and was living in Colorado while I was in Nebraska at that point. She convinced me to take a trip to visit them and run the Bolder Boulder 10k. I was so new to the sport back then, I grabbed a clearance pair of running shoes from Kohls, hopped on a treadmill, and started my plan in January to run 10k by Memorial Day. I remember it being very tough, and wanting to quit a lot. Treadmill running is no fun, and I think my aversion still comes from those days.
Race day came, and boy was I nervous. That race has 42,000 finishers. That’s a LOT of people. The race is super well organized, and has plenty of water stations, as well as fun bands and cheering sections the whole course. My only real race memory aside from the singing elvis, blues brothers, and the dude out in his bathrobe and coffee was rounding mile 4. There’s a few pretty serious hills on that course-hello, mountains-and I’d just finished a doozy. As I round this curve, I start hearing “Eye of the Tiger” pick up. Now, I’m aware how absolutely corny that is, but in the moment-I’ll be damned if I didn’t pump a fist and speed up! Mom and I finished that race in JUST under 1 hour, 12 minutes. I was always a chubby girl in my childhood and teen years, and finishing that race felt like I’d climbed Mt Everest. I cried. And then promptly stopped running until it was time to do the race the following year. I think it wasn’t until I was 30 and bought a house directly across from the city’s bike path system that I really got to a point where I’d run even if not actively training for something. Sometimes I wonder why I run-it’s hard, there’s aches and pains galore, and I am certainly disgusting at the end of a run. Then I look at the weight it’s helped me lose, the stress it’s relieved, the troubles it’s helped me resolve, and I realize it’s totally worth it. 9 years ago, I ran a 10k in 72 minutes. Last weekend, I did the same distance in 52. That’s quantifiable success.
Oh, yeah, the throwback. Here’s the only race photo I’ve ever bought. That’s my Mom in the red, and the original unimpressed girl on the right. I look at myself, and think nothing’s changed, and everything’s changed. Guess that’s what life is like.