August 24, 2014. I just purchased the cheapest jogging stroller I could find. I was wearing 26 dollar Nike “running shoes” from the Footlocker clearance rack. I also wore a sports bra that was too tight, a shirt that wasn’t made for working out, and I didn’t bring any water because it was “just a mile” (in August, in direct sunlight).
When I realized I clocked a mile less than 15 minutes, I felt like the ultimate bad ass. This run is what started my half marathon day dreams. At the time, they were just that – day dreams.
I had no idea that this very slow, very disorganized, and very unprepared mile “run” would teach me and where it would take me. I’ve completed two half marathons, too many 5k races to count, a few 10k races, and a bunch of other random distances since this day in 2014.
I could get all sappy and talk about my journey, but instead, I’m going to humor you with what I have learned about running so far…
There will always be that person who walks in the middle of both lanes on the running path, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You know the one. The one who you continually yell “on your left” at, and she scurries to the left instead of the right. She keeps her dog on an unusually long leash. The funny thing about her is that she becomes part of your training plan. If you run at the same time every day, you can bet that you will see her when you’ve gotten to mile ___.
No matter how many times someone tells you “don’t do anything new or different on race day,” you’ll never learn to listen. Whether you buy new shoes at the Expo, insist on eating oatmeal instead of your usual peanut butter toast, forgo the outfit you have worn already to wear a new one, or wrap yourself like a mummy for the first time in KT tape – you’ll discover that it’s nearly impossible to follow the rule of consistency. Oh well.
Physical pain isn’t imaginary, and acting like it is will not make it go away. Running along with the race course with a broken ankle doesn’t mean it isn’t broken. Runners are a tough crowd when it comes to resting or slowing down. Trust me that injuries that are not treated, or at least rested, will probably get worse. It’s cool, though…we’ve all decided that finishing the race is somehow the cure-all.
Sports bras are for women who have something to put in them, so don’t spend a lot of money on them unless you’ve got a rack. I’ve spent a ton of money on sports bras for running. What I have found is that this is not money well spent if your regular bra size is “I” for “indent.” Buy tank tops instead.
If you want to up your MarathonFoto collection by at least 30%, you must wear a costume. I was decked out in full Captain America gear for the Pittsburgh marathon. I was in the video, had 29 MarathonFoto prints to choose from, and I got a free professional photo from the marathon. Had I worn simple and efficient clothing that did not require a cape and shield, that wouldn’t have happened. Be smart: dress ridiculously.
You will never trust Invisible Fence. No matter how many signs are in someone’s yard that indicate there’s an underground wire thing, when you see two German Shepherds running for you, you will not feel comforted because of an imaginary fence that apparently stops dogs over 100 lbs from tearing your ass apart.
You’ll learn to enjoy the smell of your own sweat. I’m so serious. I know that’s gross, but…when you run late at night and plop your soaked head of hair onto the pillow, you can’t expect much else. In an ideal world, we would shower before bed. Not happening at midnight; no way.
You will secretly be annoyed when your friends run faster than you. Your comments like “that’s awesome!” are pretty lackluster – because really, you want to beat all of your friends, even if you don’t want to admit it. You will be slightly annoyed when their PR includes beating you.
Speaking of friends, you’ll make a lot of them simply because you have running in common. When you identify that someone else is a runner (either by their clothing or over-hearing a conversation about running), you’ll jump right in. Runners are part of a fraternity-like group that they became a part of simply by beginning the sport. Some of the people I consider great friends I have met through running (and may have never even met them in person, yet).
Remember in Titantic when Rose asked Jack, “[teach me how to] spit like a man”? You won’t need lessons – you’ll just become really good at it. I wear makeup and presentable clothing most of the time. I sometimes even wear dresses. But when I get out on the race course, watch out – hockers abound.
Last, but very importantly…
…You will learn not to give up. You will understand what it’s like to fight to become something. You will experience the sweet joy that your tears of determination produce. The photo above is a race from July 2016. In nearly two years, I have cut my mile time almost in half. That’s a big deal.
Happy Runversary to me. Cheers to many more (because, let’s be honest – a training plan for a distance race might as well be your significant other…).