Growing up, running was one of the most stressful things in my life. I hated it. In elementary school, I definitely cried over having to run the mile. Things slowly got better when I started doing organized sports in high school, but it was something that I endured rather than enjoyed and I thought people who ‘ran for pleasure’ were lying to themselves. How could you love to do something that hurt and wore you down?
After high school, I started to form a sort of admiration for runners. It was something that I was terrible at, so I saw them as supreme athletes, someone to admire for their athletic prowess. I tried to start running a little in college, and it never really took off. I got up to doing 2.5 miles on the treadmill, but that was exhausting and I never sustained it. This past summer, Eric encouraged me to give it another try. He was definitely a better runner than I was and brought me along on his runs. When I got indignant and insisted on stopping, he would push me to go a little further, and showered me with positive encouragement. After going on runs pretty regularly, I built up my stamina to doing 3 miles. The distance was an achievement in itself, but do you want to know the biggest change? I liked it. It was no longer something that I did because I knew it was good for me. After a run, I had that high people talked about. And it was awesome.
At this point, I still wouldn’t have classified myself as a runner, but I felt I could hold my own when talking about it. While adjusting to life in Maryland, I took a bit of a break. I was used to running outside on trails, and this area was completely unfamiliar. I didn’t know if it was safe or what routes I could use. After about a month and half, I found my bearings and started up again. I got to the point where if I missed a day, I actually missed it. Now I really had the urge to enter a race. I felt confident enough to do one. I was consistently running about a 5k so I knew that I wouldn’t embarrass myself if I entered. Thanks to Melissa, I found the Rudolph Run, sponsored by Bullseye Running. It was a 4 mile race through the state park near my home. It was a 2 mile loop done twice or in a relay. Originally, Melissa and I were going to do it together, but she got sick that weekend. Undeterred, I still went. And I am do happy that I did.
That’s right, I ran my first race. On December 15th, I ran 4 miles in 46 minutes and 22 seconds through the woods with a bunch of other people. It was so much fun, and now, I finally feel like a runner. It was such a great experience. There were spectators lining the course at points, cheering you on, even if you were a complete stranger. (TIP: Wear a shirt that has some identifying mark. I was known as “Uconn”, so I kept hearing things like, “You got it Uconn!”, “Looking good Uconn.” A little encouragement goes a long way)
My goal was to finish in under 50 minutes because I had actually never run a full 4 miles before. I figure if they expect marathoners to run 6 more miles than they trained for, the extra fraction of a mile couldn’t be too tough. Overall, I had an incredible experience and I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in entering a race to do so. There is such a comradely among runners and you may meet some really nice people while achieving personal bests.
Do you run? What’s your story?