In August 2014 I had a problem. My 5k times were slowly getting worse and I was struggling to make it through a race without stopping and walking. I felt like something was wrong. I was running races in 30 or 31 minutes when in that year my best race ever was a 28:54. To most runners that might not seem fast but I had only been running for a little over two years. I thought I was content to be running 5ks.
I was talking to one of my best friends and “Coach”, Lori, when she offered a suggestion. She thought that maybe I was just getting bored of doing 5ks. Maybe I needed more of a challenge. The whole idea scared me. Running three miles was hard enough for me, how could I run more than that? With encouragement from her, I signed up for my first 5 mile race. It was going to take some training though.
I had just began my first year of teaching health and physical education along with coaching volleyball to start the school year. With all of that going on, I
made a commitment to my training. Everyday, I got out of bed at 5:30 and went to school. I would park my car and run in the neighborhoods around there, following a training plan by Hal Higdon (halhigdon.com). I was feeling great. The accomplishment that was being able to run more than three miles was more than motivating for me. I was incredibly proud of myself.
While I was training for the race, I had a few other 5ks that I signed up for. One of those races was a part of a running series with a marathon and a half marathon. Lori would be running the full marathon so I was able to be there when she finished as my race was obviously done first.
Standing at the finish line, watching the half marathon runners coming in, I felt like I could do it too. This was my “Half Marathon Epiphany” moment. I’m sure it has happened to other runners too. That random spark in your brain where suddenly, even though you may have been hesitant in the past for such a feat, you were ready. You tell yourself, “I can do that!” My training for the five mile race was getting me excited for the possibility that I could conquer a half marathon. I just needed more time.
In November of 2014, I ran my five mile race. It was a difficult but fun course where runners flew through a cow barn, a corn maze, and fields with mud that we were warned prior could “suck your shoes right off your feet if they aren’t tied tight”. I finished that race in 54:25. I was exhausted but I placed first in my age group which made the whole day worth it. Let’s be honest, it was worth it anyway.
This coming October, I will be running my second ever half marathon which also happens to be the half marathon that sparked my interest in the first place, the Northeast Ohio Half Marathon. I’m looking forward to dominating the course and beating my first half marathon time, 2:20:32. Although I have only completed one half marathon so far, I have already set a goal for myself that I will run a full marathon by the time I am 29 years old.
I think a lot of people are afraid to run because it seems hard. And it is. And it’s scary. But just like anything else in life, if you want to get better at it, you need to practice. If you want to make it easier or less scary, the best thing to do is face it. Running gets easier every time you run. With the right shoes, a commitment to training, and epiphanies of confidence, who knows how far you will run.