The First Race: How I Decided That I Am a Runner

half-marathon-first-race

It was 8th grade spring semester.  Something possessed me to join the track team.  Honestly, I wanted the social interaction and a way to stay in shape for volleyball and softball.  I did not fit the typical shape of a runner.  I wasn’t overweight but I was curvy and built with a lot of lower body strength from volleyball.  Barely allowed to try out sprinting, poll vaulting, long jump, or anything really, I was put with the shot put team.  To make matters worse an influential person in my life questioned why I had joined.  They stated that obviously I was not a runner.  I took a few minutes to let that set in.

I spent the next few months doing the non-running related activities but I did not quit.  Due to the “you aren’t a runner” comment I pushed through.  It became more about proving to myself that I wouldn’t quit solely due to this opinion.  That was my only track season.

I was at a work function and agreed to do a half marathon with a coworker.  I had previously never heard of a half marathon because after that track season in 8th grade, I knew I was not a runner. For this reason, I had no knowledge of runner things, events, or mileage involved.  When I was asked that is what I told them.  No, I only run if there is a dog or imminent danger.  I had not played volleyball or softball competitively since high school.

When I got back to my desk I searched for the Queen Bee half marathon. My eyes quickly caught “13.1 miles.” WTF quickly crossed my mind.  At this point I was thinking of a reason to give my coworker.   That same motivation crept in; that I needed to prove this to myself.  I paid the $80 to register and sent a message stating that I was all in.

My coworker gave me a running schedule that would help me train over the summer for the fall race.  We met Saturday mornings for the long runs.  The first meeting was 5 miles. I do not know how I got through it but I did.  After mile 3 something came over me like I was floating to my goal of 5 miles.  It’s unexplainable.  On the week days I was on my own to follow the schedule and I did with an amazing playlist and husband to coach me.  Before I knew it the summer past and I had ran straight through 7 miles, 10 miles, and finally 12 miles.  The Queen Bee Half Marathon race had arrived.

I was in great shape at a steady pace until mile 9.  I took a little walk break and then got back to it.  I have to say, I was very surprised at all the things runners eat including but not limited to Swedish fish, shot blocks, gels, orange slices, more candy, water, beer, and Gatorade.

My parents called me to let me know they were there which I answered with my headphones and gave them an ETA.  I did not actually know if I would accomplish the ETA but that is why it is called an estimate!

I made my turn down the straight away with hundreds of people lining each side cheering for their friends and family.  As I sprinted in, I glanced to the left.  There my parents and my then boyfriend (now husband) were right in front at the finish line.  I crossed the line and right to hug my dad, barring my face in his coat as I cried.  It’s an amazing feeling to finish your first race.   My excitement, shock, and fatigue sat in all at once.  Although I had spent months preparing, I never knew if I would finish.  2 hours 51 mins.  I ran for almost 3 hours.  The picture below is just after I crossed the finish line!

Crossing-Finish-Line

The 8th grade girl with the curvy body that didn’t impress any of the seasoned track runners or coaches finished her first half marathon 10 years later.  As I drank my after race mimosa I thought to myself “look at me running!”  “Who is this girl?!”  After 10 years and 50 lbs down it clicked…I am whatever I want to be. I am a runner who has since joined a running group and runs 3-4 times a week!

For those that believe they are not runners, I highly suggest giving it a try.  There are great running programs that have couch to 5K groups to get you started.  There are also run/walk groups as options as well as groups that run it straight.  The accountability of a group is inspiring.  Lastly, you can start where you are with a light walk and a 5K. My point is that there are options!  Being a runner is a lifestyle.  It is an attitude.  You are the only one who decides whether or not you are a runner!

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