So, my running life started over some beers and a peer pressure to do a half marathon with two very old friends of mine. I had a good friend who had recently done a full marathon and many other friends who had done halfs. I always thought that kind of running was crazy. I'd do the occasional 5k to make sure I was still "fit" but for the most part my workouts took place at the Student Rec Center at WMU. I had grown up a soccer player and quite honestly, HATED when the coaches made us run! Anyway, back to the beer, so over a few pitchers of cold cheap beer, my best friend said "Let's all sign up for the Holy Half Marathon at Notre Dame!" In my drunken stupidity I agreed and really just wanted a T-shirt that said I ran a half marathon. Unfortunately at this time in my life, I had no idea that there were other crazy people who actually got together and TRAIN for these things. I was on my own training, took a vacation in the middle and had a rough time getting runs in. I eventually stopped at 8 miles of training; 8 miles was my longest run before that day....oh wow was that hard! I finished in 2:28 and at that time I had no base for myself and was just happy to be alive. I knew I hadn't trained well, and I was a mess. My feet were cut up, I had blisters, I felt sick, and all I could eat for dinner was 5 baked potatoes. It was awful. I said only stupid people do this.
Then something happened. The realization that if I actually put some time into this, maybe, just maybe I could do better. So I decided to try again and this time actually train better. It was a year later and I was able to knock a significant amount of time off during my first Borgess Half Marathon. The crowd support was unreal compared to the small half I had run previously, I was emotional, I felt like a rock-star, and I could finally say I had "pr'd" something. Also, as much as some people hate social media, I was seeing more and more strong women I knew posting their runs, and accomplishments. I wanted to be part of this strong woman movement. It was 2011 and I was ready to commit. Borgess became kind of a staple for me after that year, the elation of that first year never wearing off. I stuck to about one half a year for awhile then of course bit the bullet when my same friend challenged me to do a full. Once again we trained, but not as consistently as we should have, and it HURT, but I was able to complete the Grand Rapids Marathon, and that medal was GLORIOUS. Even though that was a huge achievement, I finished saying "I'm never doing this again!" Sound familiar?
Most people recognize me when they see him fist. My crazy little (but big) red headed boy who loves yelling "Go Momma Go!" at all my races. Becoming a mom is what really changed my running. After having him I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be a fit mom, I wanted to be strong and set an example of fitness for him. I got joy out of my Saturday hours with my run groups, and that made me a better mom when I got home. Largely, I have been able to keep this going because Kalamazoo has such a strong running community. It's easy to find people to run with which is crucial to me because running has become a social time where I am also improving myself! Having my son see me set a goal and accomplish it, and an extremely supportive husband who realizes it's just better for everyone if I can get a run in, my family is what drives me to keep improving (wanting to make all of this training time worth something).
It has become my "norm" and our way of life. It's how I make friends and how I keep them. We keep each other pushing, going, making goals and sticking together to reach them. Without my strong women runner friends I wouldn't have a place where I feel so supported and like part of something. I may not be the fastest, but I'm consistent and driven and it's within that consistency that I have found MYSELF.