Running on my mind

Running and me go way back.

The first time I remember running and actually enjoying it was in fifth grade when I made the 4×100 relay event for the local elementary school. I had the time of my life being selected as one of the “fast kids.”

The next school year my parents got us involved in club track with USATF along with competing for our middle schools. Most of that is a blur but during that time I became one of the fastest kids in my city and broke all kinds of PR’s. I also got talked into running cross country by my parents. I had sworn up and down that I was a sprinter and occasionally did long jump. Cross country was out of the question completely. My parents promised my just one cross country race and that was it, that eventually turned into 8+ years of running cross country in club, high school, and in college.

I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t run cross country in high school, so thank you mom and dad for challenging me and knowing that I was capable of more than I thought I was. High school track and cross country gave me some of the best memories of my life. It taught me to have confidence in myself and that I can do hard things. I met so many great friends, ran at some amazing races, and became the district champion for my district in the 3000 meter my senior year. When I graduated, I was a two-time state track meet qualifier and a four-year cross-country state meet qualifier. I even got a scholarship to run for a private Christian university in Portland Oregon.

That first cross-country season was one of my best regarding times. I was being pushed by my coach to my limits and seeing great results. I also had some amazing friends and support from my sister and parents. After a cross country season where I finished as the fastest girl on my team and two spots away from qualifying for the NAIA cross country championships, we (my twin sister and the rest of the team) found out that our college was going to shut down in the spring due to low funding. My coach told us that he would update us over the winter break on his plans. One day over break my sister and I got a phone call from our coach, where he told us that we weren’t the type of people that he wanted on his team next year. He spent the next 15 minutes gaslighting my sister and I to believe that we were awful teammates, athletes and people.

You could say that was hard.

My sister and I went to campus after break to collect our things and move back home where we would attend community college and run attached that track season at any meet that would take us. I was running great times and still putting in the work, I wanted to continue running in college by next fall.

We reached out to Western Oregon University, a school that we had blown off during our college visits senior year, to see if they had room on their team. Coach Mike Johnson was very understanding and welcoming to both of us. Growing up I always felt like the extra side of fries that you get for a meal. My sister was the main dish, and I was the add on. Coach Johnson never made me feel that way. Those three years were challenging but three of the best years of my life. I ran my PR’s during those years, challenged myself, met my best friends, and fell more in love with running.

Then June of 2012 came, and so did the end of my collegiate career. After my last meet my dad and I stood outside of the track in silence. We both were looking at the track in awe when he said, “so this is it huh?” to which I responded with “yup.” That was the end. No more early morning practices and daily doubles, no more workouts and blisters, running was over.

I wish there was a course provided by the NCAA or colleges for athletes who graduate from college where they can get support and find out other opportunities post-graduation. That moment when your career ends is earth shattering. More support and guidance would have been wonderful, but since there was none, I was left to navigate it on my own.

After graduation I ran a few times here and there but wasn’t training for anything specific. It wasn’t until the day of the Boston Marathon in 2013 when I decided that I needed to do something more with myself and my running. My sister and I signed up the next day for the Portland Marathon in October with our longest long run under our belt being 13 miles.

The story of my first marathon is a long one, and one that I can save for another time. After that marathon I went through a five-year cycle of occasionally running for a month or two and racing directly after. It wasn’t until the spring of 2018 when I decided to train for a half marathon on the fourth of July. That half marathon ended the way Portland did, with me in the med tent.

Following that half marathon, I ran a 5k in 2018 and another one a year later. Both at around 7:25 mile pace and both first in my age group. Both races were so much fun, so why did I stop?

Comparison. It is an ugly thing and has been the biggest problem throughout the last twenty years of my running career. Comparison told me that I needed to stop running because I was not fast enough. Comparison told me that people were running 6 miles when I was only running 4. Comparison told me to just stop while I was behind. To be honest, I’m ready to be over the comparison and ready to run for me.

Here I am now. 32 years old and 20 years into my running career and feeling that itch again. Honestly, it has been going on for a few months now, just ask my friends who have helped me navigate my worries and fears around running…shoutout to Nicole and Amanda…there for me in college and there for me now.

I have a few goals in mind, one might be to run another marathon some day since my first did not go as planned. For now, there’s a 10k that I enjoy doing that will be ran in July that I am going to be training for. After that, I want to run a half marathon a year from now.

After that, I’m not sure, who knows where I will be.

But this is me, putting my goals out there and knowing that I am ready for this.

I know that I am not going to be going to the Olympics. I know that I may not be running 7:00 minute miles like I did when I was 22. I know that I am a different runner than when I was 22. I have had cancer, two babies, and have put my body through so much during these last 10 years.

And honestly, I am ok with that.

I am 32 and am so incredibly strong the way I am. I am so excited to get back to the sport that taught me everything I know about life. The sport that gave me my best friends. The sport that gave me my husband and my life. The sport that challenged me to do more than I ever thought possible.

I am excited to start this new relationship with an old friend next week.

This is me, putting my goals out there and knowing that it may be hard.

This is me being excited to push my body and to fall back in love with my favorite sport.

This is me running again.

It’s going to be so fun.

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