I have never been much of a fitness buff. In high school I was in the marching band (yes, I was a band geek). I was not a natural athlete, so running or cycling or swimming or tennis or basketball were just not on my list of things to do for fun. This mindset carried on until I got older.
In my 30’s my mother challenged our family to run a half-marathon. My first thought was, “She’s crazy.” The only way I could imagine myself running was if a big man or a big dog were chasing me. Even then, I doubt I would run 13.1 miles to escape. At some point, I would have just given up and let the dog gnaw on my leg and the big man take my purse.
My mother was no fool, so she offered us a bribe. If we actually trained, we would get an all expense trip to run in Phoenix, Arizona’s Inaugural Rock-n-Roll Half-Marathon. Hmmmm….I had never been to Phoenix before and if running would get me there then maybe I should give this some serious thought. She knew she had me hooked and the training began.
My first run was a painful and gasping experience. I thought I was going to keel over. My mother and sister encouraged me and offered running tips. I both appreciated and despised their advice during our running sessions. It was frustrating to be so bad at running yet during each outing I could tell I was getting better. Well, by better I mean less grouchy and windbag gaspy.
I remember the first time we had to cancel a training run and actually missing the feeling of running. I wondered if I was going loco. I should be thrilled that I didn’t have to put myself through another torturous run, but I was actually sad about it. That’s when I knew that maybe there was a runner in me after all.
The morning of the Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon was mild by Texas and Arizona standards. The highs were expected to be in the lower 70’s. My sister stayed with me up until around mile 3 when I told her to go ahead and run at her own pace. I knew I was going to slow in comparison to my mom, brother and sister so I was already prepared to run at my own tortoise pace.
Between mile 7-9, I hit that wall that everyone talks about. My mind and body started an all out complaint fest: “This isn’t fun anymore. I’m tired. Who thought this was a good idea?” There are more thoughts that are of the Rated R variety that floated around in my head. Luckily we had trained using the John Galloway 5/1 method. I ran (slow jogged) for 5 minutes then walked 1 minute. I did that for the whole 13.1 miles. So during the mile 7-9 wall period, I tricked myself by saying, “You only have to run for 5 minutes.” This mind trickery got me out of that slump and back on track. By mile 11, I felt like I was on top of the world.
I finished that 13.1 miles in about 3 hours, 6 minutes and 51 seconds. It wasn’t great time by normal standards, but to me who had never done anything like this is was a very beautiful thing. I wore my finishers medal with great sense of accomplishment. It was with head-held-high-and-chest-puffed-out pride that I told family and friends “I’m a runner” whenever they mentioned how great I looked. That started a period of time for me of running. I completed 3 half-marathons and countless 5K’s and enjoyed the experience of being a runner.