I wrote this post back in November 2012 when I first started blogging, but I thought it would be nice to share it again, especially now that I am a 2013 Cleveland Marathon official blogger. It provides a little snapshot of life as a runner
(Preface: this is going to be a long post. Get yourself a cup of coffee/tea, maybe some popcorn, and get comfy.)
Did I mention that I really, really, really like to run? Well, if you didn’t know this already, now you do. I LOVE running. I love running as much as I love cheerleading, and for those who know me well, you know that is a lot. Running and I weren’t always BFFs. I dreaded having to run “The Mile” in gym class in middle school…brings back horrible memories. I had a very short stint as a track “star” in 7th grade, but I was part of the sprint teams and did long jump – hardly any distance worth noting. I always said I would not run unless I was being chased. All of that changed about 4 years ago. I decided that I needed to do something to lose the extra baby weight from carrying the twins and bring back my sanity, and a friend at work suggested running. It was something that was free (major bonus when you have four kids to take care of), and I thought if she could do it, I could do it. So I set out to run, and wow, major disappointment. I was so completely out of shape. In my mind I felt like I ran 2-3 miles, but in actuality, it was about .5 miles. I was discouraged, but I kept at it. Slowly my stamina and speed improved (note: I am by no means fast, and I don’t think I will ever be fast.) I decided to register for a race, the St. Malachi 2-miler in 2009. Race day came, and I ran. It wasn’t pretty; I was a sweaty mess (dressed in too many layers), breathing harder than I ever had, but I ran the entire thing. It was a proud moment for me And that was it; I was a runner, a real runner!
Fast forward to 2010. I had quite a few races under my belt, mostly 5K, but I decided to try something new. I signed up for the Cleveland 10-miler! WOW, 10 miles…could I even do this?! I trained, and everything was going well until IT band problems. This was a major bummer, and I was so upset. All that hard work stomped out by injury. I still did the race, but I was only able to run about 6 of the 10 miles. I was thankful that Raymond did that race with me, and we finished together. I knew that I needed to try this again. I gave 10 miles another shot with the Towpath 10-10, and I DID IT! It was such a great feeling, to know that I could run in the double digits. I was hooked on distance at that point. Screw being fast; I wanted to run far!
2011 – this was a big year for me, distance wise. I not only signed up again for the Cleveland 10-Miler, I committed myself to the Cleveland Half Marathon!!! For the non-runner, this is 13.1 miles. The 10-Miler was a success, and I was happy to have conquered the distance for a second time. Next up, Cleveland Half Marathon. When I did my training runs, I didn’t go any farther than 11 miles. I remember how I felt when I passed the mile marker. It was like I was treading into uncharted territory, an extremely cool feeling. Aside from a bathroom stop (when I was at the end of the race, no less!), it was a great race. I scooped up my medal and smiled, pleased with my accomplishment.
2011 also brought me the most amazing opportunity EVER. Raymond’s dad lives in Hawaii, and Raym (cute nickname, I know) goes there every year in December to celebrate the holidays. His dad decided to sign him up for the Honolulu Marathon. He has a group of family members that run it every year, and this year was his turn. In October, Raymond said he was talking with his dad, and his dad invited me out to run the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles)!!! I immediately jumped at the chance. How many people get a chance to go to Hawaii AND run a marathon? It didn’t matter that I only had 9 weeks to train; I was going to do that race if I have to crawl across the finish line. So I trained, I logged the miles, and I went to Hawaii. Race day was great (with the exception of numerous bathroom stops on my part), and the best part of the entire experience was being able to run the whole race with Raymond. He had knee issues and wasn’t able to train like he planned. I said it didn’t matter how long it took us or whether or not we had to walk, I wanted to cross that finish line with him My favorite part of that race was quite possibly the hardest part. Around mile 23 there is this lllllooooonnngggg hill that you have run up – very challenging after you’ve already gone that far. I dedicated that stretch, which was about 1.5 miles, to my Grandma and Grandpa Gielink, who are both living happily together in heaven. They were such an important influence on my life, and I miss them so very much. I had tears streaming down my face, but I was so happy. I knew they would have been proud of me. After that, Raym and I were in the home stretch, and we happily finished in 5 hours 10 minutes. I WAS A MARATHONER!
In 2012, I had a huge disappointment and a huge accomplishment. I decided that marathons were for me. They were challenging but fun, a true test of your physical and mental abilities. I was super pumped when I won a race entry from my friend Jessica, who was an official blogger for the 2012 Cleveland Marathon, and signed up for the marathon without hesitation. Training began, and I was on track to do very well. I was logging training runs of 22 miles under a 10 min/mile pace (for me, this is super fast), until injury struck again. The knee pain was so bad that I couldn’t even go 1 mile. I went to the doc, thinking it was IT band pain again, but it turned out I had impinged fat pads in the knee (did you even know those existed?) I rehabbed, took the anti-inflammatory meds, and rested. Race day came in May 2012, and I just didn’t have it together. The race was my most horrible race experience to date. Everything was fine until we split from the half marathoners, and I completely fell apart. I think I used every bathroom stop from the half to the finish. My legs cramped up so badly that I couldn’t even run. The sun was beating down on me like a bully picking on the wimpy kid. The entire second half of the race was a walk/jog combo. I just kept telling myself that I can do this, I will finish this race. FINALLY I crossed the finish line – 5 hours 22 minutes…pitiful. I NEEDED REDEMPTION, DAMMIT! I also swore I would never, ever run the Cleveland Marathon again.
Right after the Cleveland debacle, I signed up for the Columbus Marathon. I needed to prove to myself that I could do this, that I could run 26.2 miles. I trained throughout the summer, and goodness sake, was that rough! I used to love running in the heat…not so much anymore. Thankfully, my body stayed healthy and injury free, and I was able to carry out my training planning without much deviation. My mom, my daughters, and I drove down to Columbus the Saturday before the race. We went to the Expo, which I thought was awesome, grabbed my goodies, and did a little shopping. The rest of the day was spent lounging around my brother and sister-in-law’s house, resting up for the big day.
On the morning of the race, I woke up really early, got myself ready (yes, I wear makeup and do my hair for every race because you gotta look your best for the photo ops), ate breakfast, stretched, and was out the door. I got downtown, parked, and made it to my corral with no issues. I felt different that morning, and it took a while for me to realize that I felt great! I knew that I was ready and was going to own this race. The gun went off and the race began. There were tons of spectators, and I loved the partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Each mile was in honor of a patient at the hospital, and at most miles, the child was out there cheering for the runners. This was truly humbling and motivating. I started to get a little misty because if those children could fight back against their illnesses and cheat death, I could run this whole marathon. The miles clipped off one by one, and I had the most amazing thing happen – NO BATHROOM BREAKS! Not even one in the entire 26.2 miles. It really hit me when I got to mile 25 that I did this, I ran an entire marathon! Holy emotional, I was crying as I ran past the spectators coming into the finish. I rounded the corner to the finish line, and my family was there cheering for me. I wanted my daughters to be part of this accomplishment, so I took them from the side, held their hands, and we finished the race together. This was my favorite part of the race. I hugged them and squeezed them and was so excited that they could finish with me. I will never forget how happy this moment made me, and I did it all in 4 hours and 38 minutes. PR (personal record) PARTY FOR ME!
So, what’s next for my running adventures? I said I would never do Cleveland, swore up and down that I was done running their full marathon but would do the half, but I think I may eat my words. Columbus gave me newfound confidence in my running abilities, a boost that I desperately needed, and seriously, I would like to make Cleveland my bitch in 2013. My daughter Alexandra is really interested in running, so I would love to do a race with her, just a short one to start and then we’ll move up to 5Ks. I plan on running throughout the winter, but the cold really isn’t my thing. I might be treadmilling it for a while, but I don’t mind all that much. I figure if I could do a 22-mile training run on a treadmill, I can do anything!
So there it is – my running life story. Descartes, the philosopher, said, “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am.” I am saying, “ I run, therefore I rock!”
Why do you run? What do you use as motivation? How long have you been running?