Throughout my life I’ve always enjoyed being physically active, from racing other kids in elementary school PE class, to biking around the neighborhood and jumping carefully built ramps, to playing recreation baseball and JV track in middle school, to being a lifelong tennis player since the age of 4. For the most part, my experience with running was short sprints. Running long distances gassed my lungs and every year when it was time to test our mile for school I would inevitably stress myself out. However, I’m naturally very competitive so I would go all out and end up with a respectable mile time of roughly 7:00. I knew I wasn’t the fastest runner by any stretch of the imagination, but I always met the standards set by the Presidential Physical Fitness Test and that made my effort acceptable.
Fast forward a couple of decades to the summer of 2012…..AND I decided to train to run a half marathon! For those who know me know that it isn’t uncommon for me to pick a lofty goal and throw all of my energy into achieving said goal. So, without being able to run a single mile nonstop, I printed off Hal Higdon’s novice half marathon training program and started my journey of becoming a runner. There was a lot to learn such as pacing strategies, fueling for long runs, the importance of rest and cross training, proper nutrition day to day, and so much more. I knew one thing for sure from the beginning; I was up for the challenge!
I didn’t have a set run schedule per se; I ran on prescribed days of the week, but ran when I could squeeze it into my day. Some mornings I ran at 4:30 am before work, some days I ran on my lunch break, and other days I ran at night after work.
Summer training in Virginia Beach is hot and humid! I ran as long as I could and walked when I had to in order to log my miles. It was hard and I thought I would never be able to string together 13.1 miles of continuously moving. However, as the weeks crept by I was getting better and before I knew it I was running 2 – 3 miles without walk breaks! Then it was 5, 6, 7, and even 8 miles at a time of running.
As fall weather approached my running efforts seemed to improve drastically with my paces increasing and my long runs feeling a little more enjoyable. I was starting to feel like there was hope after all. I was running consistently and guess what?!? I finally felt like a runner.
My first half marathon was the Anthem Richmond Half Marathon (now named CarMax Richmond Half Marathon) on November 10, 2012. I finished with a time of 2:20:31 which equates to a 10:42 mile pace. Since that race I have run three more half marathons, three half marathon relays, a Biffledinked 10 x 5k (with a partner), and an ultra challenge in which I was able to complete 16 miles before stopping due to an injury. From time to time I entertain the thought of running a full marathon and have my eye on one scheduled for the spring of 2022 in Indiana.
What started out as the crazy thought of running 13.1 miles on a fall weekend in Richmond, Virginia for fun, turned into the reality that I am a runner!
“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” – John Bingham