“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How this whole running thing started for me

Time to start this all off with a LONG initial post to explain where this all started.
Me posing during that fateful skiing trip that derailed my first scheduled half marathon.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to start running.  How did I choose to start?  By self-training for a half-marathon.  Why did I start there of all places?   My mom ran the Houston Marathon shortly before my decision.  I thought - surely, if she can run a full marathon - I can do a half.  Right?  Right?

I will never forget the beginning - where 0.2 miles was all I could do before I had to walk to catch my breath.  Amazing thinking back on how hard those first attempts were.

The first half marathon I registered for was the Cap City Half Marathon in Columbus Ohio in May of 2010.   Things were going okay - despite a grueling schedule for my chemistry degree, I was still getting most of my runs in.  Then I went on a skiing vacation in March of 2010.  On the last run of the last day....I fell.   While it hurt, I thought it was just a bruise and insisted on skiing another run so that I didn't end on a fall.  I'm somewhat notorious for doing that when an injury is more serious than I realize.

After about a week back home in Ohio and struggling to try to run and breathe at the same time....  My ribs STILL hurt as much as they did post-fall, and I called the doctor.  Turns out I'd cracked 3 ribs in my fall - and was told no more running until they healed.  I was very disappointed, but since even laughing hurt at that point - I didn't even argue.

My husband and my Dad still ran that race without me.  I'm embarrassed to admit - my mom and I didn't even cheer them on - it was raining darn it!  LOL.

Once I healed - I was determined to try again.  This time - I registered for the Columbus Half Marathon in October 2010.  I found a training schedule on the internet and stuck to it.  My husband was going to run it too. 

We also registered for the newly created Emerald City Quarter Marathon part way through the training as a warm up for Columbus.  We had a lot of fun at this race - even though I had to walk a bit in the last mile.  I finished the Quarter at 1:20:17 for an average pace of 12:21 minutes/mile.  Not bad for hardly being able to run 0.2 miles when I started!
The gang at the Emerald City Finish line

Shortly after Emerald City - Mark got the dreaded plantar faciitis.  His foot would just ache after runs.  After pushing through for a bit - he realized he needed to go on injured reserve and would not run the race with me.  I used that as an excuse to skip about a run a week - and a couple of my long runs!  The longest run on my schedule before the half was a 9 mile run - and I did complete it - but it was tough.  As the Columbus Half drew near - the week before to be exact - I began to panic as to whether or not I could finish.  All my friends knew I was running it!  How would I explain it if I didn't finish?  Not only that - I was crazy and signed up for the tweet my time thingee - they'd even have race day updates about how slow I was going!

Race day for the Columbus Marathon started with absolutely perfect running weather.  When we got downtown, my husband was saying how glad he was that he hadn't brought his bib - or he'd have run the race, injury or not.  The huge crowd of runners was electrifying!  Somehow I wound up at the very back of the very last corral for the start.   I will never forget dodging all the discarded clothing at the start line!  I'd utilized Mark's backpack to discard my warmer clothing.  :)

One thing I'd vastly underestimated in my training - was the amount of energy it would take to run AROUND people.  Since I started at the back, I had to run around all the walkers - some of whom would walk in great big packs spread across the road.  I also was able to pass some runners - maybe I'm not so bad after all!

The other thing I neglected in my training - HILLS.  My neighborhood is relatively flat.  I assumed that meant Columbus is relatively flat - which for the most part - is true.   BUT, there were some "mild" hills in the race.  And the worst one for me hit when I was already tired - mile 11.  I still remember thinking - "Who decided to put a hill at the END of the race."  LOL.   I had been on a steady 12 minute pace to finish, but had to walk part of mile 11.   The finish line was also on a slight uphill.  The one time I really got passed in the race was in those last 100 yards - other people were sprinting to the finish - I had nothing left to give...and kept plodding along at my 12 min pace.
BUT - I finished within my time goal.  My final time at the Columbus Half was 2:43:33.   This was about a 12:30 min/mile average pace.  My original time goal had been 3 hours - and after Emerald City - I'd secretly hoped to finish under 2:45.  SUCCESS!   I will never forget how HUNGRY I was after this race.  I did not take enough at the post race food stations...and made my husband stop at Panera Bread on the way home - BEST SANDWICH EVER!

At the end of the day though - I couldn't have gone another mile.  I had, however, reached my goal of successfully completing a half marathon in under 3 hours.  Now - I wanted to try to get it to 2:30!   Before the month was out, I signed up for the Cap City Half Marathon - and to run with MIT.  I decided, I had to do the training better this time around.


  1. I love it! Can't wait to read the next installment!

  2. I hope you went out and bought anything with a 13.1 on it! Don't tell I'm the only one who's gonna do that.

    I LOVE the ski picture!

  3. you are awesome!!! Your story sounds so much like mine - even down to the injuring yourself and then downplaying it. I'd love to get to a 2:30 half marathon too- but my first goal is to just be able to run the whole thing continuously (preferrably without permanent damage to my knees)


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