Two years ago, in January of 2011, I registered for my very first 5K event. I had only been half-hazardly "running" for about 6 months at that point - and I say it like that because I had started and quit the c25k program a couple of times since the previous summer, and had never run for more than 2 minutes at a time. I was definitely not a "runner"! I did, however, want to run a race one day...but never signed up for one, rationalizing that I should actually become a "good runner" before trying a race. But that fateful day, I decided to change my thinking and use signing up for a race as motivation to stick with it and actually complete the c25k program.
I can look back and recognize that decision was a defining moment for me. I completed the program and ran my 5K, and in the process started to gain some confidence. I had spent so many years feeling defeated and incompetent, but accomplishing that goal started a fire within. It wasn't overnight, but slowly and surely I started to feel more confident. I felt better physically and emotionally.
I ran my second 5K a few months later, and finished just a hair over 30 minutes - something this ex-smoker never thought she could do! My goals grew after that: I wanted to run a 10K, then a half marathon and eventually a full marathon. Lofty goals, I thought, but not impossible like I once believed. I figured I would increase my distance each year, meaning 10K in 2012, HM in 2013 and full in 2014 - the year I would turn 40.
Of course, sometimes life throws a wrench in our best laid plans....
At the end of 2011, my marriage crumbled and I started 2012 alone and unsure once again. I knew that running had become a positive outlet for me, so I decided that I would register for a half marathon that was 9 months away in addition to the 10K I was planning to run that spring. I admit that I really struggled with the 10K, and was very worried about the half marathon afterwards. But I kept running, and that was the best thing I could have ever done. I ran my first ever half marathon 16 months after my first ever 5K and less than 2 1/2 years after quitting smoking. I scoffed at people who said they were impressed that I was running a half marathon, but I will admit now that I was (and am) very proud of that accomplishment.
After I finished the HM I recognized that while I (hate)loved that experience, it would be the greatest distance I would ever run. I scratched full marathon off my list - the dedication and time required to properly train for such a distance is more than I can commit to... at least right now.
I do honestly enjoy the long run, though... there is really nothing like getting out on the road early in the morning on a beautiful day, with the sun shining and birds singing, listening to the world wake up as the miles pass under your feet. It is, for me, such peace. I am snowbound right now, suffering on the dreadmill, but I know those days are coming again soon!
And they can't come soon enough, because I am now registered for 2 half marathons this year! The first will be in May and the second will be in September, the same event I ran last year. My goal is to improve my time, now that I know what to expect. My first HM time was 2:29; it feels a bit ambitious, but I'd like to finish around 2:15 in May...and try and get under that for September.
I've joked with friends that I'll add my two HM times together to make a "fake marathon" time.... is that ok??