Hey friends! This post was originally meant to tell you about my trip to Columbia, SC to attend the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) coaching certification course last weekend, but first I want to back up for a ‘lil bit here and share my running story with you. I shared some of the highs (and lows for that matter) in my “About Me” post, but I want to dig in a little bit deeper in this post about running and how it has impacted my life and in turn, why I want to coach.
I think that most people just assume that I have always been a runner and that is not really the case. Although the more I think about it, I really have been running for almost half of my life at this point. So many kids get into running at such an early age now though, I guess that makes me feel like I started “later in life,” when in actuality it wasn’t all that late.
Short Stuff (1995 – 2003)
My first experience with running was not a pleasant one. In middle school (fifth or sixth grade … the details are kind of fuzzy at this point), I decided that I wanted to try out for the JV track team. A few of my friends were on the team and so of course I wanted to do it to. Apparently the FOMO started at a young age.
I played several other sports (actually at this age it was probably just tennis and softball), so I figured I could run track. Seemed easy enough, but man was I wrong. I tried out for the 800 meter (1/2 mile) and in classic newbie fashion I took off way too fast. Heck, I still do that now sometimes. Long story short, I didn’t make the team. I actually didn’t even run the entire 800 meters. It was highly embarrassing.
Fast forward a few years and at this point I was definitely playing several other sports. I played volleyball, basketball, tennis, softball and even had a short stint on both the dance team and the cheerleading squad (um yeah … not my thing). I went to a very small school and so if you had any athletic ability, you played all. the. sports. Our basketball coach decided that we were going to run to get in shape for the season, so we started running a mile or so each day before practice.
I’d be lying if I said that I enjoyed it. I most definitely didn’t, but it was required so I just went with it. As a side note … our team won the state championship (3A private school) the year that we started running. We were in better shape than everyone else. Just sayin!
When I got into high school, I decided that I didn’t really want to play softball anymore. I had played since I was really young and the team was transitioning from slow-pitch to fast-pitch, so it kind of just made sense to give it a break. We were only allowed two spring sports (I had done tennis and softball up until this point), so this freed me up for another spring sport. Enter track.
My 10th grade year I made the track team … as a thrower! I threw the discus. There is a lot of technique (and less skill) required for discus, so I enjoyed it. My junior year, I was recruited to run. I honestly don’t remember exactly how this happened, but my guess is that they just needed people and I was a person. My junior and senior years, I ran the 4 X 800 meter relay and the 800 meter, but that was my only running event. At practice we would run/walk a lap to warm up, run our distance (maybe two times on a good day) and then we were done. I had never run more than 2 miles consecutively when I graduated from high school.
Middle Distances (2004 – 2008)
I started running a little bit more my first year in college. I signed up for the SGA Fall 5K. I remember standing on the start line wondering if I would be able to actually run 3.1 miles without stopping, since I had never actually done that before. I did! I don’t even have any idea what my time was. I just know that I finished and I really liked it. I really missed organized sports and running kind of just became my new thing.
The spring of my freshman year I took a jogging class. I got an A! Haha. I learned more about running from that class and I started to run a little bit more. We are still talking 3 to 4 miles max and only a few days a week. Over the course of the next few months (when I was home for summer), I slowly transitioned the miles up to 6 or 7. At that point, I decided it was time to run a 10K. I do know my time for that one … 50:39.
After the 10K I was officially “hooked” and I started training for my first half marathon. I basically trained by myself and I basically had no clue what in the world I was doing. I had two running “mentors” that helped me so much. I ran with both of them a little bit along the way. One was my high school tennis coach, Donnie, and one was our family friend, Carol. I know this sounds super sappy and sentimental, but I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today (in running or just in life in general) without them. My parents have always been 100% supportive of everything that I have done as well, but the running thing was little foreign to them. I think they pretty much thought I had lost it when I told them I was going to run a half marathon. In fact, they likely still think that I did in fact lose it and have never found it again! But I digress …
I ran the Mercedes half marathon in 2006. I will never forget the feeling of completing my first half marathon. It is a feeling unlike any other feeling, not even topped by the feeling of completing my first full marathon (because let’s face it, that just plain hurt). I ran that first one in 1:48:03. The time didn’t matter whatsoever. I completed the race and that was my only goal!
I continued running a few times a week after the race and decided to do the Mercedes half again the next year. Let’s just say that this is where things got messy. I think most people know my story at this point, but if not, basically I was attacked while I was out on a training run for my second half marathon. It was a very traumatic, horrific thing that has had a drastic impact on the rest of my life. At first in a very negative way and now, many years later, in an inexplicably positive way.
A few months later, with a trusted mentor by my side, I ran the race that I had been training for. A few days later I was checked into an inpatient (eating disorder) treatment facility where I received extensive therapy and tried to begin the healing process. Looking back on this, I realize that I was still in so much pain and denial that I wasn’t able to truly benefit from the treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot, but I don’t think that it all truly sunk in until much later. It took time for me to grow and learn to accept and deal with things.
A lot of my memories of that time are somewhat of a blur (which I think is probably a good thing at this point), but I know my running over the next 2 to 3 years was very minimal. When I did run, it was always on the treadmill. Occasionally I would run outside if my dad biked with me or something like that, but that was not super common.
Going Long (2009 – Current)
I don’t remember when exactly I got back into it, but it was sometime around 2008 or 2009, after I finished college and graduate school. I stuck with the training on the treadmill for the most part, but I started doing more races. I enjoyed pushing myself. It was around this point, that I met Daniel. You can read more about that –> here.
Once we met, I started meeting his training group at the track on Tuesday evenings for speedwork. There was usually a pretty big group of at least 10 people and we would all do the same workout, but everyone would run at different paces. We did 200s, 400s, 800s, etc. If you are a runner and you are wondering how to get faster, the answer is a) speedwork and b) run with people faster than you. That is just my opinion and based on my own experience though.
If you are a runner and you don’t care about getting faster, that’s totally cool too! As long as you are out there doing what you love, that’s all that matters. I would still totally suggest running with people though, but just because runners are cool and it makes it more fun (again, just my opinion).
Daniel and I got married in 2010 and the first race I did after we got married I broke 20 minutes in the 5K for the first time (with a 19:38). When we first met (in 2009), I was running close to 22 minutes for the 5K, so that was a huge improvement. All of my times started improving (in various distances) and I got even more hooked. I run to be the best version of myself that I can be. Training hard, working towards goals and ultimately meeting those goals is what makes me tick. There isn’t much that hard work, dedication, faith and a little bit of confidence can’t handle.
I ran my first full marathon in 2011. I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth repeating … ouch. It was painful, yet rewarding. I didn’t train properly (I obviously didn’t know that at the time or I would’ve done it differently) and I didn’t fuel properly (again … I didn’t know what I was doing). I did manage to get a Boston qualifying time though (3:24:11), so I was super happy! I would love to work with first-time marathoners (and half marathoners as well) to help offer some guidance along the way and eliminate some of the newbie mistakes that I had to learn the hard way.
The next year I ran Boston. It was one of the hottest Boston Marathons on record. The temperature was close to 90 degrees for the entire race. I rode the struggle bus for the majority of the race. Again, my training was not where it needed to be (I’ll blame tax season for that one) and I was not acclimated to the heat at all. I ran 4:37. Not what I was hoping for at all, but it was still pretty cool to be a part of such a prestigous race.
After Boston and for the next couple of years, I continued to steadily increase my weekly mileage and started to really enjoy the longer distance training runs. The speed workouts took a back seat while I focused on increasing the quantity of my runs (as opposed to the quality). I built a really good endurance base during this time and while I didn’t really have any breakthrough races or anything like that, I think this time was very valuable in the overall scheme of things.
In 2014 I started working with a coach. We added back some track and tempo workouts and over the course of about six months of consistently focusing on quality (as opposed to quantity), I pretty much PR’d in every distance (5K, 10 mile and half marathon). That training cycle culminated with the New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon where I ran a huge, approximately 20 minute PR. At this point, I definitely saw the benefit of working with a coach, although I ultimately decided to change coaches at this point.
I wanted to work with someone that was more hands on and gave lots of positive reinforcement (I need that). Different coaches have different coaching styles and it is important to work with someone that you feel comfortable with and that gets you. My current coach is awesome! He was an accountant before he started coaching and we think similarly on a lot of things. I hope to replicate what he is doing for my athletes!
I started the blog a few months after I started working with my current coach, so if you want to read more about this past year, hit up the archives and go for it! Running has been a huge part of my life. From the day of the attack, to the day that I first met my husband, to the day that Daniel and I ran a 5K the morning of our wedding, to the day that I broke the tape in New Orleans, to today … each day has brought different lessons, different meaning and different perspective to my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today or who He was calling me to be had it not been for each of those days, and all of the days and miles in between.
I have been searching for “my purpose,” or rather “God’s will” for my life and I feel like I am being called to help people. That’s super broad, but for now, it means helping people meet their running goals, helping people to discover and fall in love with running and being a witness and an encouragement to them along the way.