I discovered a love of running in 2005 when a friend convinced me to do an impromptu 5k to benefit the Gulf Coast Relief fund. I struggled before and during the race, but felt fantastic afterward. I loved the rush at the start and hearing everyone cheering - it just kept me going! After that, I was totally addicted to finding races to run.
I figured I'd work my way up the race chain and signed up for the St. Patrick's Day 8k, followed by the Capitol Hill Classic 10k (still one of my faves). Then one day I said I wanted to do a 10 miler. Say whaat??
Enter the Army Ten Miler - the country's biggest 10 mile footrace with 23,000+ runners (I think it capped out at 22,000 the first year I did it and it keeps growing).
This race was a HUGE deal for me. It was a lot longer than a 10k and much longer than I've ever run before. I had a pretty rough time with training (mostly mental) and I was pretty much willing to throw in the towel after the first few weeks. However, with a little gentle pushing, I made it through that summer and rocked the 10 miles in 1:43...and felt like I could keep running.
After that I set my sights on bigger and better things and entered the lottery for the 2006 Nike Women's Half Marathon. I got in and joined the National Capital Area Chapter of Team in Training. I learned a lot that summer...I learned about running, hydration, injuries and nutrition from the coaches and I also learned how far I could push myself.
I ended up switching to the FULL marathon halfway through training and committed to running my very first marathon. Woah. I really just wanted to hang with the cool kids on the Saturday morning runs ;)
Five months later I was in San Francisco and about to run my very first marathon. I was so incredibly nervous, but felt fabulous for the first 18 miles. The last 8.2 were another story...
I finished in 5:18, grabbed my Tiffany necklace and was absolutely amazed that I ran 26.2 miles. I told myself that I was done with my first and last marathon...maybe.
I did a half and some shorter races the following spring and as summer rolled around, I got the marathon itch, so I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. Training this time was rough since it was just me and a running buddy I met through Team in Training. Motivation was hard to find and I'll admit that I slacked off big time.
The windy city wasn't so windy in October 2008. I was not prepared for the freak fall heat that greeted me on race day morning. I knew I had to take it easy and went out to enjoy the running tour of the city. My only goal was to come in as close as possible to my first marathon time...and I did. Five hours and 11 minutes later, I had completed my second marathon.
I'll admit it, at that point I was pretty hooked. I felt surprisingly fine after the race; much better than the first. I shaved 7 minutes off my time and barely trained...imagine what I could do if I just had more discipline?? Btw, story of my life. Ha.
I started getting super nerdy and decided I wanted to complete 5 marathons by my 30th birthday. Totally doable...one a year. No real reason behind it all, I just figured 5 was a nice number. Plus it would give me something to look forward to every year. Duh.
I tried to get into the New York City Marathon and didn't (but I'll definitely keep trying!), but DID find a bib for the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon! I was psyched to do a marathon on my home turf with a friend...the friend that got me to do my first race :) We kept each other motivated and sane through training and I felt so much stronger and faster. My speed and endurance improved and I was ready to drop that marathon time under 5 hours. Then injury hit. Boo.
Achilles tendonitis a month before the race. WTF?! Actually, I know it's my own fault. More running, more mid-foot striking, more speed, all at once...disaster. I couldn't let friend down, so I vowed to jog the first few miles of the race and then switch to a run/walk. Yeah, that didn't really happen. Ran the whole thing because I felt good, no pain.
Came in at 5:10 and was more frustrated at the finish line than thrilled. I was injured, took it easy, felt fine and still cut time off?? UGH. I kept wondering 'what if I wasn't injured? How would I have done?' Whatever, I eventually got over it and focused on the positives - I was happy to finally run with a friend and see all the familiar faces in the crowd. My third marathon and my first with family and friends watching...all in my home city :)
Then my home city changed. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon once again even though I told myself no repeats until I finished 5 marathons. I just couldn't help it. A bunch of bloggers and friends were going to be running, it was perfect timing, plus it took place on 10.10.10...how could I not sign up?
I had a fabulous time exploring my new city on foot as I trained with a running group, met a bunch of new people, hit a new PR when I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon and was excited to bring my time under 5 hours. Finally.
It was hot, brother and gf came down from Michigan to cheer, I explored Chicago on a segway and I finished in 4:57. HOORAY! It was a rougher road than I expected (seriously, cut a girl a break. What is with the heat whenever I run??) and it felt SO GOOD to finally dip below 5 hours. Not the time I was looking for, but considering the conditions, I'll take it :)
Next up is marathon number five with running buddy. Avenue of the Giants, here we come!