Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Running Story

Ten years ago this week, my boyfriend of four months bought me a shiny blue iPod mini and that marked the (near) beginning of my running journey. That little iPod has run with me through rain, snow, sleet, two pregnancies, and lots of sweat. I've often thought about sharing my running story here but shied away from it because I've felt a) you're probably not interested and b) it's a little personal for this private girl (who has a blog…..the irony is not lost on me).  However, on the off chance that I might inspire some of you to not put limitations on yourself, I thought I would share this piece of me.

The beginning of my running story is not a glamorous one… at all. It began with a lot of frustration, some tears, and asthma. I hated running but wanted to love it. I loved the idea of being able to get a workout in with no equipment other than my running shoes. I wanted to love it, but hated it. Connor was in ROTC at the time and we would often run together and he would get me on a breathing pattern "In In, Out, Out" he would say whenever my breathing got difficult, and it helped. (I still follow that breathing pattern when I feel my breathing getting difficult.) Slowly my three mile max became four and a half miles. I remember the first time I ran that four and a half miles and I said "Do you think I could ever run seven?", and Connor said "of course." with no hesitation whatsoever. My mileage stayed consistently there until we moved to Seattle. There was little to no humidity in Washington and I was having less and less breathing issues as a result.
That Fall in Washington I ran my first 10k, and I was so overcome with excitement (almost to that dream of seven miles!!). Little did I know that by the end of that year I would complete both a half and a full marathon. After that 10k I started running with another army wife….who ran marathons like it was a monthly ritual. She inspired me and asked if I would want to run a half marathon with her that summer. I remember coming home a little skeptical and asking Connor if he thought I could do it. "Of course" he said. So- I signed up. Halfway into my training, I started to dream really big, bigger than I had ever dared to dream. Connor was going to be deployed to Iraq for a year, and I felt like I needed something that made me feel like I was accomplishing more that year than just spending it waiting. So I asked "Do you think I could do a full?", and again with no hesitation Connor said "Of course". So that year I ended up doing my first 10k, my first half, and my first full marathon.
I found that I could always run one more step, and concentrated on that rather than "today is the 20 mile run".  During training, I had issues with my IT band…which for me meant if I stopped to cross the road my knee would buckle and I couldn't bend it for half a mile sometimes, but I kept trucking on hearing that "of course you can" in my ear and praying under my breath. My marathon came about a month after Connor deployed which needless to say was difficult. I remember running my 18 miler a couple days after he left while I was trying to pack up my house, say goodbye to friends and my life in WA, and move across the country (not to mention I was the matron of honor in two weddings that month). I was stressed, food made me nauseous, and I was not sleeping. So that last month of training was purely about mileage for me (the nutrition aspect was seriously lacking). So it should come as no surprise (though it did), that race day was difficult. I flew through those first 18 miles before I hit what I assumed to be the dreaded runner's wall. In actuality it ended up being hyponatremia, or over hydration. I was seeing black spots, I was nauseous, lost all strength in my back so that I was hunched over, and had a lot of mental confusion (had difficulty saying something as simple as my name). Despite those slower remaining miles, I was able to run the race within the time range I had hoped for(though on the very low end of that range). I was rushed to a medic tent right after the race and spent over three hours there on IVs getting pumped with sodium while I drank chicken broth with an ambulance waiting nearby. Thankfully after three and a half hours, my sodium levels climbed to a place that the medics were happy with and I was allowed to get my medal. That night in bed was the greatest feeling (aside from the fact that I had lost 9 toenails and had to sleep with my feet out of the sheets). Would I do it again? I think about it every year….the time commitment keeps me away right now. But I would like to do another full at some point. These days I enjoy half marathons- they are still fun (for me, full marathons don't fall under the fun category), they keep me in running shape, and I don't have to be as rigid with the training.

I often think about that frustrated girl who had asthma issues at mile 2, and I wish I could tell her that someday she would run 26.2 miles. And if you were to ask me now if you could do a marathon, even if you have never run a mile in your life, my response would be "of course you can!".

Ps. It's back to design come Friday, thanks for taking this detour with me :)