Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The word "marathon" isn't in my dictionary.

Yeah, that's what I used to say. Of course, that was 3 marathons ago...

Many years ago I was looking for a good way to lose weight (okay, I'm STILL looking for a good way to lose weight but, that is a story for another time). It had been about two years since the birth of my first child and the baby weight wasn't coming off as quickly as I had planned. I wanted my college body back and I was determined to find a way to do it!

I tried getting some workout videos and even went as far as letting Billy Blanks work me to death in his Tae Bo program. I thought, hey, if I can do Tae Bo then maybe I should try Tae Kwon Do (TKD)! Although I enjoyed TKD, I always felt that it wasn't really helping me slim down but rather bulk up. Yeah, I could kick some booty in the sparring ring but it really wasn't what I was looking for to help me slim down.

One day I was chatting with a friend and she suggested that I start running. I laughed - out loud - and explained to her that I couldn't even run around the wrestling room (very small wrestling room) as a warm up for TKD. After a few short laps I would be so out of breath I could barely perform my warm-up kicks! A runner, not a chance! She encouraged me to go out and give it a try "for her."

Her suggestion to me was to throw on my running shoes and head out the door. I should run until I felt I couldn't run anymore then stop and walk. Then, after I caught my breath and felt like running again, pick up the pace and run some more. I was running to the crack in the sidewalk then walking to the lamp post then running to the fire hydrant then walking to the crosswalk then running then walking then running then walking. I came home and immediately got in my car to see how far I had gone then I rushed back home and called my friend with the news that I had run 2 miles my first time out! Her first words to me were "YOU ARE A RUNNER!" Again, I laughed...out loud!

It felt a little crazy thinking I was actually becoming a runner but I wanted to challenge myself. I always love a challenge so I considered my first 5K. As I began training, my friend gave me several pieces of advice along the way. One of the best pieces of advice was to get a gait analysis at a running store and get good shoes. That was really key to my decision to continue running because now I felt more comfortable in my shoes and I wasn't so wore out after my runs (well, not at the pace I was going anyway...).

Several months later I ended up running my first 5K. I was excited about the feeling of crossing the finish line and it encouraged me to sign up for longer distances. I guess you can say I officially started calling myself a runner after that race in 2002. I began signing up for 5K’s, 5 milers, 10K’s, half marathons and then by October of 2003 I was training for my first marathon. What, a marathon? Was I crazy? (yeah, don’t answer that one…) What had I just gotten myself into?

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to run my first marathon due to an injury but I didn't let that stop the goal I had in my mind to run a marathon. In October of 2004 I ran my first marathon - the Marine Corps Marathon (Washington, DC). What a wonderful race; great organization, great crowd support...I couldn't ask for more. Well, maybe I could ask for one more thing: Gatorade instead of Poweraid at the water stops. One thing I knew prior to the race but didn’t follow through on was the “rule” that you aren’t supposed to change your race-day routine from your training routine. Of course, after 20+ miles your mind sometimes isn’t functioning quite the same. So, I ended up, shall we say, "leaving my mark" 9 times on that race course. Yeah, you heard me - 9 times - but I was determined nothing was going to keep me from finishing that race so I said a little prayer and ended up crossing the finish line and became an official marathoner!

After having a second child, I decided it was time to make up for the horrible run time from my first marathon so, in 2007, I entered two marathons in the same year. Long story short, I have cut my marathon time not by minutes but by over an hour!

So, I accomplished what I never thought I would. Not only have I added the word "marathon" to my dictionary but now I was ready to move on to something bigger. What would it be? There are local ultra marathons just waiting for me to sign up. Would I be brave enough or strong enough to finish a 50 or 100 miler? I seriously considered it. However, there was a bigger bug out there that was ready to catch me. I knew I could run...I didn't have a good bike but I knew how to ride...I've been swimming my whole life...HEY, what if I consider a triathlon??? Well, that is exactly what I did. In 2008 I competed in five triathlons and after winning some hardware in my division I knew this was the sport(s) for me (yeah, I have a competitive nature!). And, dare I say it…the word “IronMan” isn’t in my dictionary?

3 comments:

Moises E. Jaramillo said...

Inspiring story. You might even inspire me to do an Ironman too.


Don't give up on the TKD though, it is a nice way to cross-train.

Tracy Endo said...

Unfortunately I gave up on TKD when I started running! I can still throw a kick to someone's head, though! :)

Angela Porter-Kenney said...

Inspiring! And "running" is not even in my dictionary. ;)