I'm a 37 year old mother of two, wife to one (ha!), and I live in the Austin, TX, area. I moved to Texas in 2007 after living my whole life in
Moving brought with it something that I'd never experienced before. I gained weight. Not a lot...only about 8 pounds. But I've never been one to fluctuate even 10 pounds in my entire life (if you don't count pregnancy and a couple medical issues that caused massive weight loss), so those 8 pounds really bothered me. Many in my family are overweight and have numerous health problems associated with it and this was something I've always worked hard to avoid. I went to the doctor to rule out any medical issues for the weight gain (think Thyroid problems), but nope...I was just getting FAT. My neighbor, Diana, was an avid runner and managed to convince me to give it a try. Me - who had never run more than 2 miles in her life, 15 years prior - was going to take up running.
My first run was less than a mile...yes, less than a mile. Pretty pathetic, but at least it was a start. I built up slowly, up to 3 miles at a time that first month. Up to 4.5 the second month. After 2 months of running I decided I needed a goal to keep me motivated. After a google search I found the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon were being held in 4 months. A half marathon? 13.1 miles? At one time? Could I do it? Sure I could....so I signed up before I could talk myself out of it. For the next 4 months, I trained my butt off. And guess what? I did it! No walk breaks....13.1 miles and it was fantastic!
Pretty much right away I decided I could do a marathon. I stayed in good shape over the course of the next few months by participating in 5Ks and 10Ks in the Austin area and even placed in my age group in one race. I signed up for another half marathon, in San Antonio the upcoming November, which would fall right in the middle of the marathon training season. I joined a marathon training group to help me with my winter race goals and it ended up being a fantastic choice. I met some wonderful runner friends and was challenged during every long run to go further and faster. My goal in San Antonio was to break 2 hours. Although it was a tough goal to achieve, I managed to run that race in 1:59:26. Unfortunately, I also ended up injured. The dreaded Iliotibial Band Syndrome....10 weeks before the Austin Marathon.
Intensive physical therapy put me back together, but it also severely compromised my training. I simply did not get in enough quality long runs, although my 21 miler was probably my best training run ever. I also didn't count on getting a nasty virus 10 days prior to the race. It all combined to make for a pretty miserable marathon, but ironic enough, my 4:40:56 time is still my best marathon time to date.
That first marathon was 2 years ago. I have since run 2 more...one while suffering viral bronchitis (which I didn't realize at the start of that race)...and one in way less than desirable weather conditions. I have run 2 other half marathons but again, have yet to break my personal best from San Antonio. I don't like the idea that I've gotten slower over the past two years but it is my current reality. This past year was a tough one (for reasons that will go into a separate post in the near future) but it made me take a few steps back from hardcore training. I maintained a comfortable training schedule this year, without focus on speed. It has served me well as I've remained injury free and have really looked forward to all my Saturday long runs with my training group. I even am one of the volunteer coaches in my group and I do love having that role.
But I want my speed back (well, it's not FAST, but it's challenging for me and I miss it). This year I plan to come up with a few tweaks to my training that will enable me to push myself without letting the hot Austin summer weigh me down. I think another half marathon will serve me well. It's been nearly two years since my last one and it's probably my favorite distance to race. I need to choose my next marathon (after Austin on Feb 20). In all likelihood it will be Austin again in 2012 since it's the least expensive and stressful option and because I'm so familiar with the course and strategy involved to do well. I need to continue to focus on my core strength and plan to make yoga a very big part of my life over the spring and summer months. Running is never about just getting the miles in. If you don't take care of the rest of your body, you will never become a successful distance runner.
Why do I keep doing this even through the pain and frustration?
Because it's ME. I am determined to be a healthy, fit example for my children. I refuse to fall into the trap of gaining weight and being sedentary just because I'm getting older. As I get older I want to get BETTER. I want to blow the fitness level of my teenage self out of the water. I will be that 40 year old wearing the size 4 jeans with the bling on the pockets. Running makes me happy, it makes my heart happy, and it feels fantastic when you're done and you know you've done something amazing for yourself. I do it because it's my therapy from the everyday stress of life.
So that's my story.