So how did I become a runner you ask? Well, running and I have dated for well over a decade. We had a few times when we got more serious, and I ran a few 5Ks, but inevitably we would part ways again. Then, when we got together again in August of 2012, we really clicked. I'd go out for a run and felt like I could run forever. I got in that "zone." Mind you, it wasn't easy. Over the course of the next few months, I injured my knee and my foot (more on that later). But in October, we decided to get hitched. We set a date - Thanksgiving Day - at the Atlanta Half Marathon.
Increasing Distance and InjuriesUnfortunately, by the end of August, my knee really started hurting. I got my first introduction to how easy it was to injure yourself as you increased distance. You really need to listen to your body, build up slowly, and get help understanding how to train for and run long distances. I got through it, by taking a week off of running and allowing myself to heal, then investing in a really good pair of shoes.
I started running again in September, and by the end of the month, I had reached seven miles. By mid-October, I reached nine miles, after which I decided to register for my first half marathon. Unfortunately, I had run nine miles on hilly terrain I had not run before. I ended up getting extensor tendonitis in my foot. This sidelined me for two weeks. I was nervous I would not get back on track and be able to run the half marathon I had just signed up to do.
The two weeks off allowed my tendon to heal, and I began to run again, very careful not to get injured again. By November 10, I hit the eleven mile mark. One week later, twelve. Five days after that, I ran 13.1 miles in the Atlanta Half Marathon in 2:04:06. I was incredibly proud of this accomplishment.
Before We Go Further, A Little HistoryIn high school, I could barely run a mile. I finished second to last in my grade in the one mile run portion of the fitness test. Basically, prior to cancer, I was a terrible distance runner; the longest distance I could consistently run was about a mile and a half. After cancer, and particularly chemotherapy, I seemed able to rebuild myself differently. I ran a 5K and had gotten up to six miles at my longest. However, as I alluded to earlier, running came and went, until this past year.
I knew I needed some kind of exercise in my life again, but I had conditions. I'm not a fan of gyms; I fit the norm in that I always stop after about three months. Basically, I don't find much satisfaction in a room with machines or weights. I wanted to be outside, and I didn't want to spend a lot of money. So I started to run again and gradually increased my distance until I started going further than I ever had. I got in the zone. I enjoyed taking in the scenery, and did not listen to music. I would just be in the present, running. That's when I ran my first half marathon and became: