Monday, August 24, 2015

How I Became A Runner

If you had told me - 5, 10. 15. 20 years ago - that I would eventually become a runner, I would have laughed in your face.
I grew up believing in the absolute truth that I was NOT an athletic child.  I was horrible at sports, was always among the last few kids picked for any team, and I dreaded P.E.  (I'm still not sure quite how I managed A's in gym in middle and high school...that might be one of the greatest mysteries of my life.)  I gritted my teeth every time I HAD to participate in any sorts of athletics, and happily walked away from it once all academic requirements were met.

The great tragedy of this was that I grew up in a small town where athletics were king.  If you didn't do were nobody.

The great irony is that I was a dancer...but this was back in the day before the skill and physicality of dance was recognized as being just as powerful as that of sport.  You could be a dancer or you could be an athlete, but never the twain shall meet.
 So yes, there was no way in the world that Kristin was ever going to become a runner.  It wasn't in her nature, and she wasn't even remotely interested in it.  Ugh.

To be sure, I did make a brief attempt to learn to like running shortly after my husband and I got married, when I discovered that my husband was a capital R runner...of the sort who basically could not function without his four post-work runs every week.  I remember being completely shocked when he would come home, change clothes, and turn right back around and walk out the door.  Seriously, the dude could barely speak to me until after his run.  Well then, I thought I would join him.  I think that lasted approximately two runs before we both realized I was always going to be TOO SLOW for the experiment to work.  If we kept trying, he would have wound up being annoyed and I would have wound up feeling hurt.  So that was that.
It wasn't until 2007 that the first glimpses of my running future materialized.  I signed up to walk a marathon through Prevention magazine, and while ultimately problems finding shoes for my crazy feet would derail my efforts to do a full marathon, I did complete a half and discovered that I truly enjoyed both working with a good training schedule and the atmosphere and excitement of an actual race.  Sad to say, though, that I didn't follow up after the race, and so what could have been a great start fizzled.
Two years later we signed up for a gym membership, and I decided to focus on rebuilding my health...which was in the toilet at that point.  (Thank you Sean's new job!)  I splurged on a 30 day makeover program in which you were able to work with a personal trainer, and was paired with Meghan, who not only was a phenomenal trainer - we worked together for a year - but who is still a good friend.  I think we'd been working together for less than a month when she sprung on me the idea of running a local 10K in September.  That's right...she wanted me to RUN a 10K with only three or so months of training.  I - being atypically game, and maybe a bit crazy - said yes.

It was amazing.

The weather was horrible - very cold and rainy.  Part of the trail was underwater.  I was used to running on a treadmill and not outdoors.  Despite Meghan running the whole thing with me (because she's awesome like that) I didn't have one tiny bit of confidence.

And I loved every minute of it.

I would complete one more 10k, but unfortunately a series of health issues - including two unexpected surgeries and all of the allergy stuff - would largely derail my efforts over the next few years.  I regret the time lost...but it is what it is, and under the circumstances I know I did my best.

Last July I was finally able to stage a comeback.  This time around, I found a running partner to help keep me accountable and we made the commitment to work with the Couch to 5K training program.  My running partner and I worked diligently all summer, moving past the 5K program when we completed it.  I was able to run the Turkey Trax Thanksgiving morning run - something I'd wanted to do for YEARS - and together we did a Jingle Bell run in December.  While no one would ever accuse me of being fast, I was very pleased with what I was able to accomplish.  After the Jingle Bell run the weather got to us, and so we wound up giving it up for winter. 

We got back to it this spring, and despite our season off we were able to start a month or so into the 5K program.  For various reasons my partner and I haven't been able to run together that much this summer, which has given me the opportunity to relearn how to run by myself while testing myself a bit. 

I've been joking that I earned my Capital R Runner status this summer because my desire and need to get out there and run has finally become stronger than my dislike of running in the rain, my preference to only workout in the morning and my need for any sort of accountability system.  It's true...I feel better when I run, and if I miss it for a couple of days I'm not happy.  Even when it's a tough run for whatever reason, I'd still rather be out there.  It's in my heart and soul now, and I'm not going to easily let go of it again.

After testing my ability to run distance a few weeks ago, I signed up to do the 10K again this fall.

It's good to be back.

Yet another piece of myself reclaimed!

My post-run red face from today.  I always look a tad like I'm dying...but in truth I felt great!

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