I hesitantly agreed.
I grew up a choir girl and a piano player and was never very athletic. I had never run in my life and had never even contemplated it. But on January 1, 2010, my friend and I set out on our first run: one whole mile. We jogged/walked it, and it took us all of 20 minutes. We even rewarded ourselves with Starbucks after. At that point, I wasn’t sure I would ever be a runner and honestly didn’t know if I even wanted to become one.
But over the next month, that 1 mile turned into 2.5 miles, at which point my friend said, “You know, we should have a goal. Let’s run the Country Music Half Marathon in April.”
Another big gulp.
I was terrified and nervous. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was still walking a portion of my 2.5 miles, and some days, even that seemed like torture. How was I going to do a half marathon? Luckily, my friend stumbled upon Hal Higdon’s novice half marathon training plan, and we started following it religiously. Although my friend had to bow out of training, I continued running and signed up for the 2010 Country Music Half Marathon…alone. I wasn’t sure I could do it on my own, but after paying the entry fee, I knew I was going to Nashville, and one way or another, I was finishing 13.1 miles.
|Before the 2010 Country Music Half|
I stayed diligent with my training, running when Hal said to run and resting when he said to rest. I finally got up to 6 miles without stopping or walking, which, to me, was monumental.
Twelve weeks after starting the training plan, I ran the 2010 Country Music Half Marathon. I finished in 2:12:30, which was in the top 30% of runners. Although I was thrilled with my time, my biggest accomplishment was that I didn’t stop to walk. Not once. For someone who couldn’t run a mile just four months earlier, I was incredibly proud of myself and also a little bit shocked.
|After the Nashville Women's Half|
I signed up for the 2011 St. Jude Marathon the day registration opened to guarantee my spot, and I began training immediately. I trained for 7 months, including running two half marathons (Nashville Women's Half Marathon and Memphis Runners Half Marathon) as training runs, shaving nearly 10 minutes off my PR for a half. By November, I had worked up to a 22-mile training run. And when I finished that final long run, I cried for nearly an hour, amazed at what I had just done.
I put in over 900 miles in those 7 months and went through three pairs of running shoes. I experimented with nutrition on my long runs, I paid attention to how my body was feeling, and I put in the mileage each and every week. I did everything I possibly could to prepare for the race.
|At 26.1 Miles in the St. Jude Marathon|
Although I was as prepared as I could be, miles 23-26 definitely weren’t easy. But once I hit mile 26 and could see AutoZone Park, I remembered some words of wisdom my husband told me when I started running, “No one sees how you run the race. Everyone sees how you finish. So, always finish strong.” And that I did. I gave the last .2 everything I had. I finished in 4:43:56, hands in the air with a big smile and tears streaming down my face. I don’t think I had ever been more proud of myself than in that single moment.
|Crossing the finish line of my first marathon.|
I truly believe anyone can run. In fact, I believe anyone can run a half marathon or marathon. Running takes commitment, dedication, perseverance and the right mindset, but anyone who is determined to succeed at it, will. Running isn’t about being fast or beating someone else. It’s running your own race for yourself. It isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be really, really hard. There are going to be good days and bad days. But if you stick with it, just like piano, singing, or anything else you practice, it does get easier. And the feeling of crossing the finish line will make every mile worth it.
Because of my love for running, I now work part-time for Fleet Feet Sports, handling their marketing and race sponsorships. And I recently became an RRCA-certified Running Coach so I can coach other beginner runners. I also completed my second full marathon and know another is in my future. Who knows what other running adventures and races will come my way, but I'm going to keep on running. Life just doesn't seem complete without it now.
"When people ask me why I run, I tell them there's not really a reason. It's just the adrenaline rush when you start, the feeling when you cross that finish line, and knowing that you are a winner no matter what place you got."