Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How I Found Running

My first marathon! E and I ran it together.
I recently was asked how I found running, and I gave the short answer, but giving that short answer made me think about the long answer, and how much running changed my life.

Cliche as it is, I came to running on the heels of a really bad breakup. Prior to that, I had been a gym rat, logging hours on the stair stepper, using weights to work out my upper body and dutifully knocking out a series of crunches and pushups daily. I worked out to get in shape and stay fit, but it wasn’t for the love of it, it was just the healthy thing to do. I was still in college then, pretty poor and splitting my time between my classes and a job assistant managing a bookstore.

When the breakup happened, I was devastated. It was unexpected, and I was heartbroken, angry and needed an outlet for all the emotions that seemed to crowd out everything else. My time of the stair stepper no longer cut it; I needed to move.

At the time, the closest thing I owned to sneakers was a battered pair of Chuck Taylors that I wore to work and to punk shows. Poor college student that I was, I took myself to Target and bought the cheapest pair of shoes I could find, a $20 pair of Champion brand sneakers. I pulled on the only workout clothes I owned, which were leftovers from my brief stint as a shot-putter and discus-thrower in high school, hit the trail.

There was a park next to my house that had a .75 mile paved running trail, so I started going there every day, morning, noon and evening, wherever I could fit it in. I was a pack-a-day smoker then too, so speed and consistency were hard to come by; I walked far more than I ran. And really, I knew nothing about running. All that mattered was to keep moving, to break a  sweat and work out some of my angst. And it worked. I didn’t get significantly faster nor even increased my ability to run for periods of time, but I pushed through.

I was working part-time as an office assistant at a law firm by then, and I started going out at lunch with one of the girls. We’d run/walk the bridges, meandering through the downtown area where we worked. It opened a whole new world for me; I didn’t know what it was to explore a place like that, learning the area from the ground up.

Eventually, I moved up slightly in the world by purchasing a pair of New Balance from Kohl's, when the Champion brand sneakers started to make my knees and hips ache (I knew I couldn't afford running store shoes, so I purchased New Balance based purely on the fact that they were on sale, and the fact that they were the brand of choice for my dad, also a runner).
I started doing yoga too, and between the two, found a sense of salvation. I ran my first 5k, and then a couple more. Eventually, I started dating again, and eventually met E. He was training for a marathon when we met, a distance that I barely knew existed, and one that I couldn’t fathom ever completing myself or even wanting to complete. I quit smoking and started running more, really running, and ran my first 10 mile and then my first half marathon, and finally my first marathon. I was hooked. It was (and is) something that's wonderful to do together as a couple, and also something that I have found that can just be for me.

And I still am. I have found a passion for running that has stuck with me; I read about it, write about it and have even been lucky enough to work with a couple running and triathlon companies in my other life as a freelance writer.

I look forward to aging as a runner, and exploring new places and new cities from the ground as I run through them. I've found favorite running spots in places like Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, and some little backroads we explored on a recent trip to Lake Murray in South Carolina. As I began to do triathlons as well, I feel that my fitness journey is only beginning.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Kicks and Finding My Running Mojo

As much as I enjoy triathlon, my first love remains running. I took a lot of time off after my marathon in January, and when I started back up, I was a little appalled at how much fitness I had lost. It was really rather crushing, and I spent a fair amount of time, both running and non, moping about it.

I’m happy to report now though that I seem to have gotten to a better place. Finally - finally - my times are improving again, and I no longer feel like I’m crawling, trying to keep my heart rate down while struggling to get in some distance.

So, as a reward, I finally used my coupon to and bought the Merrell Dash Gloves that I’ve been eyeing.

I’ve started to run the vast majority of my runs in my Nike Frees, and that now includes my 10+ mile runs, so I feel like I can justify treating myself to the pair of minimalist shoes that I’ve been so excited about.

I know I won’t be able to log many miles with them until after the 70.3, but I look forward to at least getting a little bit of time in them. I know they are going to be an adjustment, but it’s a challenge I look forward to!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Trainer Days

The training plan that I’m using to train for this 70.3 has be on the bike on Wednesdays and Fridays, with my weekly long ride on Sundays. So far, Wednesday’s are proving to be challenging to get outside to ride, so I’m spending a lot of time here.

This also means I’m logging a lot of t.v. time. All I can say, is thank god for Netflix and Hulu, and for Arrested Development and Top Gear (U.K., of course.)