I unintentionally discovered running. I was starting high school and I needed a new after-school activity and cross-country was one of the only no-cut sports. I had just started running with my parents a few months earlier so it wasn’t an out-of-the-blue decision to join, but running was still new to me. Plus, I wasn’t so gung-ho about the six-days-a-week time commitment either.
As I was not only a freshman but also a new runner, I slowly built up my mileage. Most days I stayed around 3-4 miles, but I discovered that I really enjoyed running. It was a great stress relief after school and it kept me sane during a stressful time in my life. However, I did not enjoy being told to run or actually racing…which happens to be the point of cross-country. I actually dreaded meets. (I would be on the course running by my parents yelling, “I’m going to die. This sucks.” Just a bit dramatic. Apparently I made really ugly faces when I ran past them, too).
While I did run cross-country for three years, my best and happiest running memories occurred during the off-seasons. I ran my first half-marathon in 2010 as a sophomore in high school. My mom and I ran the Princess Half Marathon at Disney World. I’ve never been so nervous for a race as I was for that half-marathon. I couldn’t eat dinner the night before because I was so queasy. However, it turned out to be an amazing race and I finished strong at 1:45, way surpassing my goal time.
That was the start of my racing “career” (not like I get paid for it…more like I shell out hundreds of dollars to race). Since then I have run four more half-marathons and one full marathon. I ran the Disney Marathon in January 2014 and it is my proudest accomplishment to date. (Note: I don’t run all my races at Disney. But I live an hour a way so it’s pretty convenient!).
Right now I’m in the midst of my running hiatus, partly due to the Florida heat. But really, I ran a lot (for me) from October-March, had some minor injuries and needed to give my body a break. However, I will be cutting the hiatus short to start training for my second marathon in mid-July. I’m running the NYC Marathon this November! You better believe I screamed in the middle of my religion class when I got the acceptance email. So until training starts I’ll continue to run when I feel like it (without a schedule), usually 3x a week.
I love that I can set short-term and long-term running goals. I love that I don’t have to set running goals. I love listening to music when running. I love running technology free. I love running even when I hate it. It’s not always easy or fun, but it’s the post-run high that keeps me coming back.