Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A "How it all started" Race Report....

It was four years ago that I ran the DRC Half Marathon for the first time, it was also my first half marathon...ever!  Back in 2009 Brandon was not a runner.  He had never run more than a couple of miles and at the time he had no desire to.  He has always been super supportive of my running and has never missed a race.  Through all my years of running I've only had true "course support" at the NYC Marathon, that's it.  So his support means the world to me!  For my first half he made a Team Lindsay shirt, sported it proudly, and braved the frigid temps at the wee hours of the morning to cheer me on.  Pictures from 2009....
Such a trooper.

 

I'm taking this race report as an opportunity to maybe encourage some people to step out of their comfort zone and take the word "can't" out of their vocabulary.  Two weeks ago I was asked by a friend: 

"Have you always been into running? I've tried many times and failed on all attempts to get into it and stick to it. I ran a mile once without stopping. What's your tip?"

I started this running journey not knowing much.  Running started as a form of stress relief and to stay in shape.  When I started, I too could barely get through a mile.  Week after week of staying on a fairly consistent training schedule, one mile turned into two...two miles turned into three....etc etc.  The biggest tip on how to "be a runner"?  Stick with it.   I certainly did not shoot out of the womb with running shoes on. 

In the picture above I was terrified (and freezing).  I knew I had trained but wasn't really sure what to expect.  Worth noting in that picture, for my first race I didn't have a fancy Garmin watch, no water belt, no GU, that's my giant iPod strapped to my wrist, and my personal favorite - I'm wearing a thick $5 cotton t-shirt that I picked up at Target.  I didn't know what pacing meant.  My training just consisted of hitting certain mileage week after week.  I didn't know what a tempo run was or how many ounces of water I should be drinking before/during/after a run.  Without all of the fancy accessories and knowledge, I finished the race!  I might have suffered some serious chaffing from that ol' cotton shirt, but lesson learned and I purchased BodyGlide.  I was so happy at the finish line!  My first medal.
    
2009 Finish Time: 2:22:41
 
You don't have to know everything about running to be a runner, you just have to start.  Once you start, you have to stick with it.  If you had told me at my first half that one year from that day that I would be running the NYC Marathon, I would have laughed hysterically.  But that's exactly what happened.  In November 2010 I was so blessed to get to run my first 26.2 at one of the most historic races in the world.  I always refer to running as an adventure, because that is exactly what it has been for me!

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Brandon wasn't a runner back in 2009 right?   For those who know Brandon currently you know him as the super speedy, has to be partial Kenyan runner.   When Brandon first decided to take on running with me he started out slower than me.  True story.  For our "long runs" (of four miles) we would head to the bridge in Rockwall and run it back and forth.  After two miles he would be winded.  As he progressed we started doing a 5-mile loop together and I was actually faster than him.  My my my how time has changed!  He too started out just putting one foot in front of the other and ran his first half marathon in March 2011 with a finish time of 2:01:14.  Just last weekend he finished the Allstate 13.1 with a 1:40 finish time.  We are a far cry from elite status but the point is you have to start somewhere.

2009 to 2012 I ran several races, and many in fun destinations!  While I stayed pretty consistent with my training I didn't really change it up much.  I finished my races with respectable times but I wasn't seeing the improvements that I thought would just happen over time.  A few of those races I actually finished well over my first half marathon finish time which was frustrating to say the least.  You mean I don't just naturally get better and faster?  About a year ago I really started to focus on the nitty gritty of running.  I wanted to become a smart runner.  I wanted to understand how to be efficient, how to improve, and how to get stronger.  I became a certified running coach through the RRCA and  started to educate myself on how to prevent injury, how to strengthen my weak areas, and learning that even though it's my knee that hurts, it's likely not my knee that is actually injured etc.  I did a ton of research on nutrition and finding the fueling method that works for me.  Hill repeats, tempo runs, altering paces based on what type of run is needed, have all been implemented over the last year.  Finally stepping out of my comfort zone is when great things started to happen!  Set a new PR for the half marathon in March 2013 (took me two years to break my previous time), I PR'ed the San Francisco marathon in June by 35 minutes, and in October I FINALLY broke a goal that I have had in the back of mind for a couple of years now - I ran a half marathon in under 2:10!  More important than the actual time was that I pulled that time two weekends in a row...it wasn't a "fluke".  Of course seeing the time on paper is nice, but mostly it's just huge validation that my hard work is paying off.  I am seeing improvements in my fitness and overall health.  Mentally and physically I am becoming a stronger, smarter, more efficient runner.

Four years later, my 2013 DRC Half Marathon finish of 2:09:30 is my new PR.



One of the biggest insults I can receive is for someone to say "but it's so easy for you".   While I can appreciate what you might be trying to say, it's easy to forget that we all start somewhere.  

I remember that first mile.  
I remember being out at the River Legacy trails and seeing incredibly fit runners blaze past me making it look "so easy" and thinking that I wanted to feel like that.  
I remember almost passing out after my first 10K.  
I remember just three weeks ago at The Showdown Half Marathon almost throwing up from the heat.
I remember it wasn't until my 5th half marathon that I was able to run the whole thing without stopping.  That was such a HUGE victory for me!
I remember hurting so bad after the NYC Marathon that I literally just wanted to cry on the steps of the subway because each step was more painful than the last. 
I know waking up before sunrise 4-5 days a week and on weekends isn't always easy.

I know I can speak for many runners when I say that every day brings new challenges and it is a constant battle to continue to challenge ourselves and work towards improving each and every day and making the sacrifices that will get us there.  We all started with that first mile.  Are some people more naturally gifted with their running abilities?  Absolutely.  Will someone always be faster than you?  You bet.  Are some more injury prone than others?  Yep >raises hand<  

The question was posed today in our local running group "What makes a good runner?"  Some people would be quick to respond that you have to be fast, you have to be able to run at least "X" amount of miles, or you have to win races to make you a good runner.  A good runner is not defined by a pre-determined speed, distance, or running form.  

In my opinion, a good runner... 
  • is someone who is willing to put in the work and willing to make the sacrifices that will help them improve
  • is constantly chasing a new goal or looking to push the limits of their ability. 
  • is not constantly comparing themselves to other runners,  but instead is able to focus on their own personal goals.
  • is mentally tough and able to battle through the bad runs (because there will be plenty) and keep pressing forward.
  • is eager to share their stories and experiences in order to help others in their quest to becoming that "good runner"    
  • is able to have FUN on the course, even when things aren't going how they'd hoped.
  • is a HAPPY runner!   
A good runner knows that at any point the gift of movement and running could be taken away from us in an instant.  A good runner is thankful just to be running.