I was not always a runner. I was an athlete all through my school years and stayed "active" enough into my 20's. (and when I say "active" enough I mean went to the gym enough that I could still over indulge in food and booze and look decent in clothes) I did not understand runners, thought they were a bit off (I apologize for judging and to my friends who still think I am a "bit off" because I am a runner I forgive you).
In 2004 I trained for my 1st marathon through Team in Training. I knew a young girl who was diagnosed with Leukemia and after the diagnosis felt helpless. I signed up to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by training and running the Bayshore Marathon. This was an amazing experience. Team in Training provided coaches along with regular weekly long runs for support through the entire training process. I really was not a fan of the weekly training, and the weekend long runs were only made tolerable by a couple of really awesome running partners. In 2004 I completed my 1st half marathon (Martian 1/2 Time of 2:28:09) and went on to complete the 26.2 miles of the Bayshore Marathon in 5 hours 31 minutes and 27 seconds.
I did a few 5k's, 10ks, and even the Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon after that, yet I did not see myself as a runner. I did not long to lace up my running shoes and hit the road instead I reluctantly headed out a few times a week.
After Simon was born in 2007 I wanted desperately to get back into some sort of shape, but with nursing it seemed difficult to make the 15 minute drive to the gym, workout for 30-60 minutes and drive home. Running became an option because I would head out the front door as soon as Mike walked in and be back in 30-40 minutes. My little nursling did not even notice I was missing. I "trained" with the Couch to 5K and signed up for the Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon again. My goal was to finish since it was only 4 months after he was born. I trained a bit with another mom, toed the line completely unprepared because I was not consistent with my training and walked/ran the 1/2, completing the 13.1 miles in 3:16:58.
The cycle of running because I should, not because I wanted to continued until I became pregnant with Alvin in 2009. After his birth I started Couch to 5K again and this time I was determined to stick with it! Baby weight was tough to get rid of and what I call toddler weight* was even harder. Things were going well, I was hitting the treadmill at the gym and even signed up for the Bayshore 1/2 Marathon to give me a goal race. To our surprise we found out we were expecting Theodore even though I was only 5 month postpartum. YIKES! I continued to "run" as best I could after getting the clearance and actually completed Bayshore 26 weeks pregnant. It was a long slow race but I did it! I stayed active for the rest of the pregnancy after that and 6 weeks after Theodore was born in 2011 I started Couch to 5K for the 3rd time in 5 years. Now it was not about anything but getting back into shape and redeeming myself at Bayshore. In 2011 I finished DEAD LAST in my age group! Being a competitive person this finish was pretty damaging to my ego. I know I will never win a race, and chances are I will never finish first in my age group but last was tough to swallow.
Something happened while training for the 2012 Bayshore Half Marathon...I started to enjoy running. GASP! I began to look forward to the me time, the quiet time (with 3 boys at home this was rare), the 30-60 minutes a day to reflect, to problem solve, to process memories and events. Running was not something that I felt came naturally to me it was physically challenging but also mentally. So far in 2012 I have ran 567 miles (last winter since I still did not consider myself a runner I spent time on the elliptical and at the gym), completed 4 half marathons (I'll recap 2012 races in another post), 1 5K and grown as a person, mother and runner. When I see my running clothes hanging on the line to dry it reminds me of the previous run, the thoughts and feelings I had when I was out there. When I see my running shoes by the front door it reminds me of my potential as a runner, person, mother, and wife when hard work, determination, consistency and most of all self confidence surface. What is possible when I let go of my fears and doubts.
I now consider myself a runner. Let me rephrase that: I AM A RUNNER!
*Toddler Weight: The weight gained when a parent finishes the rest of the toddlers meal so it doesn't go to waste or the need to snack every time the toddler snacks.