To this day calling myself a “runner” still seems bizarre. As a child, I was the opposite of “athletic” (involved in band, choir, theater, academic clubs – yes, anything nerdy you could possibly think of). I was also horrible at sports. I always ended up walking during the dreaded “mile” test every year while my fellow classmates were sprinting out sub 6-minute miles.
In college and after graduation I started working out a little, but it was the normal on-and-off routine. The most I would ever run was about 30 minutes at a 6.0 setting on the treadmill (10-min mile), and I never even fathomed motivating myself to run outside by myself! I also met my now husband (and BibRave co-founder!), Tim, who grew up in sports and was a high school state champion wrestler, so when he encouraged me to run my immediate reaction was “I can’t do what you do.”
It wasn’t until I had moved back to Chicago in the Fall of 2008 that I decided to sign up for my first race. I will always remember… it was a gorgeous day, and it was the day of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The city was BUZZING with energy! My friend Cherie and I were driving around and I was in awe of the marathoners and their amazing accomplishment. “You could do it, ya know. You just have to train,” Cherie said. I was flabbergasted. I CAN BARELY RUN 2-3 MILES! How in the world would I EVER run 26.2? We argued for a long time. I’d never even done a 5K! Cherie wasn’t a runner either, so what did she know?!
Then, Cherie said the line that has now changed my running life – entire life – forever. “You’re young and you’re healthy. It would never be easier than it is right now.” For some reason, that one phrase clicked with me. That day, I committed to running the Chicago Marathon in 2009. I posted it on Facebook (ensuring I would not back out since my Facebook friends would hold me accountable). I texted Tim and my best friend Andy to let them know I was going to run the marathon in 2009, and to my delight, they both agreed to do it too!
I knew NOTHING about running (or training for) a marathon.
I didn’t own one piece of dry-fit clothing. I didn’t even own a basic watch! My running shoes were $35 from who-knows-where. But, after much research and many emotional ups-and-downs (more on that in a later post), I crossed the finish line in 3:59! The amazing sense of accomplishment and knowing that my 16 weeks of dedication, sacrifice, and training had all paid off with an AMAZING marathon finish is something that I will always remember! I still get goosebumps hearing people talk about their first marathon because I know what a life-changing feeling it was to accomplish something I literally thought was impossible.
Even after that great experience and being in the best shape of my life at the time, I again began the on-off yo-yoing with running. Signing up for distance races (10-milers, half marathons, 1 more marathon attempt, etc.) seemed to be the only thing keeping me running regularly. I would regularly go weeks or months without running (or working out) for 3 more years until the Fall of 2012.
After running a 3:48 in Spring 2011 at my 2nd marathon (SunTrust DC Marathon, now the United Airlines Rock ‘n Roll Washington DC Marathon and ½ Marathon), I decided to attempt qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Seeing the excitement and grandeur when Tim ran in 2011 had me jonesing to get there myself. I qualified at Chicago 2012 (nearly in tears because I never imagined that it was possible in my wildest dreams! Also, more on that in another post), and since then I haven’t gone more than a month (or just a few weeks) without running. I’ve run 13 marathons since Chicago 2012 (16 total so far!). And YES, I proudly call myself a runner!
Running has changed my life in more ways than I can describe. It’s given me a sense of control, empowerment, and pride! I am now one of those annoying people telling anyone who is “not a runner” that they should consider a marathon…or half… or a 10K!
I have become, simply put, an evangelist.
And I WILL convert you 😀. Let’s chat!