If you would have told me a year ago that I would not only have completed my first ever half marathon but was also in the midst of training for a second, I would have laughed.
Growing up, I hated running. It was boring. It was hard. It’s not to say that I wasn’t an active kid, it is just that there were other ways that I preferred to induce sweating and an elevated heart rate. I have always played softball and was involved in basketball until high school. I love outdoor activities like kayaking and rock climbing and hiking. I always had an interest in fitness and exercise which was one of the reasons I decided to major in physical education in college.
Although I was having great success my freshman and sophomore years of school, there was one major difference from high school; I wasn’t on a team anymore. From the time I was five playing t-ball to the time I was 18 playing softball for my high school, I was always a part of a team and no longer having that group to fall back on was difficult for me and my fitness was struggling too.
I realized that I needed to find something to do that was active. I wanted to continue feeling like an athlete. After being denied a spot on BGSU’s club softball team (twice), I decided to try running.
I’m not going to lie, it was a tough start. I had good days and I had bad days. Days when running seemed to come so easy and I could bust out two miles to days when one mile seemed like a marathon. I wasn’t about to give up. I still wanted to be an athlete. This was about the time I voiced my concerns and frustrations with the sport of running to one of my best friends, Melissa. She listened to what I had to say and then simply said, “Let’s run a 5k.”
Looking back, That was just what I needed to fall in love with running. I had something to train for, a goal to look towards. I had a training buddy and someone to keep me accountable. We crossed our first finish line together on October 4th, 2012 at a time if 29:16 and I’m not afraid to admit, that she actually finished first. We celebrated, as any athlete should, with a trip to the apple orchard to pick apples.
I was hooked. In 2012, I ran a total of two 5k’s. In 2013, due to a surgery, I was only able to run one race. I bounced back in 2014 where I was able to run ten 5k’s and I also completed my first 5 mile race in which I came in first in my age group on a course where you ran through corn mazes, cow barns, and fields with tall grass and mud that I was warned would “suck your shoes off your feet if they aren’t tied tight”.
In January 2015 I set a goal that I would run a half marathon. The name of the race was the Lake Health “Hill Yeah” Half Marathon. If the name doesn’t give it away, the course was super hilly and pretty daunting in the moment. I was able to finish the race in 2:20:32. Looking back, I know it is one of the greatest accomplishments in my running career so far.
Training for my second half marathon, which will take place in October, is currently underway and thus far I am feeling faster, stronger, and more confident in my running. It is amazing how quickly your body adapts if you push yourself. It is also a great feeling when you can say to yourself, “Oh, it is just a 3 mile run” when exactly a year ago today, 3 miles was the ultimate max you could run.
Every runner has a different reason for running. I’ve come such a long way with my health and fitness in the past year and I feel more like an athlete now than I did when I was on a team. I have committed to a training schedule and make sure I plan around it, much like others would plan around a practice schedule. I think a lot of athletes will agree it is hard to give up that title. This is one of the reasons I make it clear to the middle school students that I teach that EVERYONE is an athlete, maybe they just haven’t found their sport yet.