Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Starting Line

On Saturday, I will lace up my running shoes and run my first half marathon! I’m a mixture of nerves and excitement. I will have some of my running group from our Saturday morning runs with me – Joe, Gail & Carol, I couldn’t do it without you!

Lately lots of people have been asking me questions about running. Truthfully, I can understand the surprise in their voice when I tell them I plan to run several half marathons this year. My most athletic endeavor before last August was one week of tennis camp in high school, though I would argue the waitressing I did in high school and college could also be considered athletic.

So how did an extremely non-athletic girl start running? I owe it all to Fleet Feet and their amazing team. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to run, but every attempt I’ve made ended with me giving up 47 seconds into the run. Several of my coworkers have been runners and I have been curious and admiring of their sport.

One day last summer, Julie convinced me to ride with her to Fleet Feet during lunch. As she was checking out, the guy at the register asked me if I was a runner too. I casually laughed and said no…I’m sure my tone was total sarcasm. He told me about a program they would be starting in a few weeks called No Boundaries. It’s a couch to 5k program. This seemed totally doable!

As much as I wanted to do it, I also tried to talk myself out of it. Here are a few of my long list of excuses. “I won’t have enough time.” “I won’t be able to do it.” And my personal favorite, “I won’t fit in”. Despite these negative thoughts, I really WANTED to do it. So I convinced my best friend Rene to do it with me. If she was there, I was accountable to someone other than myself.

We started out running for 1 minute and walking for 2 minutes. I remember thinking surely I could run for 1 minute…I can do anything for just 1 minute. And I was right! We progressively added to our run time 30 seconds a week and then decreased the walk to 1 minute until we were running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. At the end of our 10 weeks, I ran my first 5k. In December, I signed up for another training program at Fleet Feet to run the Country Music Half Marathon in April.

I would love to tell you I found the elusive runners high or that I was instantly hooked on running. But that would be a lie. Running is hard work and at times intense. I get out of my cozy bed before 6 a.m. on Saturdays for my long runs, even in the cold, rain, snow or sleet. A few weeks ago, I was nearly in tears midway through a short run because my calves had tightened up and were hurting. Why do I participate in this torture? Because I love the way running makes me feel. I feel strong, accomplished and confident. I also love the people I run with.

My advice to anyone who wants to start running would be to join the next No Boundaries group that starts in April. Don’t be shy and try to make friends with the people running with you. Chances are they are looking for a friend in this new scary world of running. For more information on the No Boundaries program go to Fleet Feet’s website

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