Good morning and Happy National Running Day! Yes, there’s a day for everything – but this one is clearly one of my favorites. 😉
I wasn’t always a runner. You might read my blog now and think that I’ve always been able to run 10 milers and half and full marathons — but that’s not the case at all!
When I first graduated from college in 2004, I ran occasionally, but I’d never run more than 2 or 3 miles. I mostly stuck to using the elliptical and weight machines, but every once in awhile I’d go for a run on the treadmill, or outside. But I still couldn’t make it past the 3 mile distance.
In 2006, I signed up for my very first 5k race. It was the “2nd Annual Gulf Coast Relief 5k” for which the proceeds went to help revive the New Orleans area following Katrina. A big group of my friends and I all signed up for the race (which was basically the whole reason I signed up), and I remember being so nervous and excited that morning standing waiting for the race to start. And then — what a thrill! Races have such an incredible energy because there are so many people — both on the sidelines AND in the race itself! I loved running among all the others in the early morning light, listening as we passed people cheering us on. It was over in a flash and I was SO proud crossing that finish line! My first race and I was hooked. (If only I had a photo from that race!)
Flying high from that accomplishment, I decided it was time to delve into the world of over 3 mile runs. Tentatively, I agreed to sign up for a 5 mile turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day, 2006. My dad, uncle, and brother also signed up for the race, which really helped my motivation. I remember that race as being the day I really believed that I could run longer distances. Running is never easy, no matter how much you do it, but that’s part of what makes it great. It’s always good to challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone!
It wasn’t until 2009 that I tested the waters in the world of longer races. While I was still living in Prague, but planning on moving back, my friend Ashley and I signed up for the Army Ten Miler in fall 2009. When I moved back to DC that August, we hit the ground running – literally! Ashley was my first serious running buddy – after we trained for and ran the Army Ten Miler together, we moved on to training for my first half marathon together, too (she had already done full marathons, but was coming back after a couple years off). And the rest is history, as you say! 13 half marathons and 2 full marathons (something I said I’d NEVER do) later, and I’m amazed at how quickly your body can adjust to training and get comfortable with distances I previously thought sounded completely insane. I also realized that the key for me was running buddies – turning running into a social event made all the difference, and I started to really look forward to training runs with friends by my side. While living in Chapel Hill in grad school at UNC, my grad school social group formed largely due to running, and a bunch of us trained for a couple half marathons together. (Missing you ladies – and you too, Libby, our honorary runner!)
Anyway! My original running buddy, Ashley, is back in the DC area after finishing up grad school internships down in Richmond, and I’m so happy to have her back! We met up on Sunday to knock out some miles together.
Ashley has been injured lately but is now getting back into it. Hooray! I had 9 miles on the docket for my Seattle half marathon training, and Ashley said she was up for half of that, so I ran from my place down to our meeting spot and around a bit before I met up with her to get in the extra miles.
Along the C&O Canal, I made a new friend. (eek!!!)
Ashley and I were both at weddings on Saturday night, so we didn’t meet up until 10 – I’m not sure if the extra sleep was worth it, though, because MAN was it hot out by the time we met.
We decided to run on the Capital Crescent trail since it’s mostly shaded, and kept it casual on pace. We stopped a couple times to cool down/stretch, too. Soooo hot! I brought some margarita shot bloks with me to snack on – love these in the summer because they are really salty. They taste kind of like a solid version of my Homemade Citrus Sports Drink! I ate two over the course of my 9 miles and gave the other one to Ashley.
9 very sweaty, hot miles – done! Whew – that was a tough one. Fingers crossed it’s nice and cold in Seattle on race day. It’s only a week and a half away now!
And now, in honor of National Running Day, a giveaway! My friends at Brooks (with whom I’m a blog ambassador, as you know) have offered to give one lucky fANNEtastic food reader a new pair of running shoes of their choice. Enter below. Happy running! 🙂
p.s. Want to read more about my running history? Check out my running training plans and tips page, and my race recap page, which includes all the races I’ve ever done and my finish times and PRs, too!