Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Road to Half Marathons

I wasn't always a runner. I didn't run track or cross country in high school. In fact, running didn't come naturally to me. In my early 20's, I had a friend that liked to run and I tagged along one day. As I was hyper-ventilating within the first mile, he explained to me that it was in fact possible to run and breathe at the same time. He helped me find my rhythm and I was soon running without gasping for air.

I continued to run to stay fit through out my 20's and I bravely signed up for my first 5k at 31. I forget my time as 31 was...cough..cough...many years ago, but I had a blast and caught the 5k bug.

After a few 5ks, I was itching for something a bit more challenging, so I signed up for a sprint triathlon. That first triathlon was a 500 yard swim, a 12 mile bike ride and a 5 mile run. It was grueling and I was as slow as molasses, but I loved every minute of it. What I learned about myself during that first triathlon was that even though I was slow, I LOVED to push my body to its limits and beyond. Yep, I'm weird.

Over the next 3 years, I finished 4 more short distance triathlons until something amazing happened...

I became a mom. Running, swimming, and cycling lost their appeal to me. Instead, that little lady and I walked almost every day for two and a half years until something else happened.

I had two.

At that point, I had very little desire to do anything. A toddler and an infant were all the exercise that I needed or could handle. So I cut myself some slack and took a break from most exercise.

But when my baby hit the age of 2, I started to get anxious to be active again, so I laced up my kicks and started running a few times a week. A few months of running went by and I received a phone call from my college roommate. She had just finished her first half marathon, a grueling 13.1 mile race. "If I can do it, you can too", she told me. Several more months went by and I kept thinking about our conversation. So on January 1, 2011, I made the bold goal to run my first half marathon that year.

In October, 2011, I ran and finished my first half marathon. It was an exhilarating accomplishment for me and you can read about my experience here.

In 2012, I made the bold goal to run TWO half marathons. I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May and the Hershey Half Marathon this past October. I was able to decrease my time by a few minutes with each race, but by October I was a bit burned out, so I took the months of November and December off from running to rest my aging body--you do the math, I'm no spring chicken.

Now I'm gearing up for 2013. I have steadily decreased my time over these three races to a personal best of 2:03 and there's no reason why I can't break that 2 hour mark. This year's goal is to improve my time and run in less than 2 hours.

To get my tail to the finish line back in 2011, I simply ran. I would just go for a run and I steadily increased my mileage in the weeks leading up to the race. That plan worked well for me when my goal was to simply finish the race, but now I've proven that I can run 13.1 miles I want to improve my time and that will take a slightly different type of training. I will need to work on my core, my speed and those bloody hills.

So I'm taking you along on my training this year for a change of pace. It might be slightly off topic, but running has become a passion of mine. It gets me outside. It makes me feel strong, capable, and quit frankly I don't know of any single event in my life (outside of delivering a 10 pound baby without drugs) that has empowered me more.

Starting this March, I'll be writing a new weekly series, 10 Weeks to a Half Marathon. Those 10 weeks will lead me up to my first half marathon for this year in Pittsburgh where my goal will be to run the race in less than 2 hours. Between now and then, I'll be writing sporadically about running, but I'm so excited about this new series that I couldn't wait to tell you.

I hope you'll join me! Are you a runner? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. I am not a runner, but want to be! I am 35 and have 3 kids (my youngest is 6 months). I just started teh couch to 5K program this week and my goal is run a 5K this year! I am so pumped! I so want to be a runner!

    1. Here's a great quote to keep you motivated: “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”--John Bingham

      Good Luck with your 5k!

  2. I did my first half Marathon Oct 2012 at age 30 and started training in the spring of 2012. I followed Jeff Galloway's method and used the app run keeper. I was really nervous but ended up with a time of 2:44. The only sport I played in high school was golf and I was only on JV so I was never really athletic. I have two kids, 9 and 5 so it is hard to find time to run, but I love to run outside by myself. Since the marathon I haven't been running since I don't like the treadmill or the cold but I can't wait for better weather.

  3. I ran in high school and college and got burned out. I took a few years off and slowly tried to get back into running when I got pregnant. My fourth and youngest child is now 2.5 and I have decided to get back into running for real this time. I have been running now for 8-9 months. I started with a few 5k's last fall, followed by 4- 5 mile races in a winter running series. I am gearing up for my first half marathon in May. I look forward to your progress on your blog.

    1. Good luck with your half marathon in May, Julie! Thanks for commenting.


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