Friday, January 23, 2015

Five Minutes Friday

There are moments in our lives that change us forever:  being born, getting married, having children.  Big moments where you realize that something irreversible is happening to you.  But today I am thinking about smaller moments, little things that maybe didn't seem like life-changers at the time, but have absolutely shaped the person I am today.

Five minutes in my life as a runner:

1.  The first time I ran an entire minute.  It was early (well, early at the time, like 6 am, which is practically mid-day now) on the morning of September 14, 2006.  I had been walking for months trying to lose weight with no success.  Somewhere around the first of the month, I started toying with the idea of running, so I started by counting my steps - if I could run 50 steps then I got to walk 100 steps.  I bumped it up to 100 steps of running and didn't actually die, so maybe, just maybe, I could go a little further.  I decided to try.  And, really, that's probably the moment that changed my life even more than the actual running.  I ended up running an entire mile!  Uhhh, more or less.  This was long, long before I owned any sort of tracking device.

You're right, this is a photo of me getting ready to do some yardwork.  The reason I'm posting it is because this is the EXACT outfit I was wearing when I ran that first mile, right down to those solid pleather shoes from Payless Shoe Source, the enormous cotton sweatpants and crappy old cotton T-shirt.  I didn't invest in "real" running clothes for several months.
2.  The minute I ran my first race.  I had been running consistently for a few months and felt like running three whole miles in a row might not be entirely outside of my abilities, so it was time to sign up for a race.  I had walked the Susan G. Komen 5K with my mom and sister a time or two, so I was familiar with the race course and it's local, so it was an obvious choice.  UltraIronHubs agreed to run it with me, thank goodness, because I might not have had the courage to do it by myself.  I was excited but nervous.  Mostly nervous.  I knew I could complete the distance, but this was well outside my comfort zone.  It was so crowded and we spent the whole three miles dodging and weaving around other runners.  It wasn't officially timed, but there was a timer at the finish and we came in right around 30 minutes.  This was long, long before I knew about the difference between chip time and gun time, so I was a little disappointed that we had gone "slow."  Ha!  As soon as we crossed the finish line, I thought for sure I was going to throw up, but I held it together.  The bug had bitten me, though.  There was another race that month and my first half marathon later that year.

I really, truly dislike running in races this large.  Give me a couple hundred or - at most - a couple thousand runners, please!  None of this 25,000 people nonsense.  Also?  Why the fuck was I wearing long sleeves in May??  Rookie move, for sure.
3.  The minute I decided to do some speedwork.  I had been running for a few years and had felt the crushing disappointment of not hitting my time goal on race day.  I felt like I had more in me, but I wasn't sure how to harness it.  The answer, of course, was speedwork.  UIH had done a cycle of speed and tempo work for one of his races and highly recommended it.  I rustled up a free plan from Runner's World in the hopes of running a faster 5K and decided to give it a try.  I set out that first day cautiously, almost as nervous as a race day with "what ifs" filling my brain.  What if I can't hit the speeds?  What if it hurts?  Then I did my first quarter mile repeat and it was glorious!  My feet flew!  I loved every single thing about running fast for a very short amount of time and I was hooked.  Up until I started running ultras a few years ago, I included speedwork in every training cycle.  Now that I'm running shorter distances again this year, I've begun adding it back in and it feels like a long-lost friend.

I wish I could tell you that my first round of speedwork yielded amazing results, but no.  Back in 2009, I trained for 8 weeks to run a sub-25 5K, but I crossed the finish line of this race at 25:00.43, if you can believe that.  I was PISSED!  I blame the tights and long sleeves.  I mean, yeah, it was late January, but that was way, way, waaaaaaaay too many clothes for a hot runner like me.
4.  The minute it took to set up my Blogger account.  You know, I'm racking my brain and for the life of me I cannot remember what possessed me to start blogging.  Seriously.  I remember being home alone one afternoon and noodling around on the internet.  I have no idea how or why I stumbled on a running blog (BTW, it was Marcia's old blog, before she started her Healthy Slice - I loved this girl from the word go), but I was fascinated!  Do you mean to tell me that other people from all over the world get on the internet and talk about nothing but running?!?  I love to talk about running and I'm pretty sure the people I know in real life are sick of hearing me.  Could I get into this blogging thing, too?  Yes.  Yes, I could.  I'm pretty sure I signed up right then and there (and promptly busted out my first timid post), but I didn't tell anybody for months.  Not even UIH, because I was pretty sure he would think it was crazy.  I vividly remember taking my first uber self-conscious sweaty selfie.  UIH was out on his run and the kids were still asleep.  I was already sweaty from my run, but taking a photo of myself brought on a new round of clammy skin.  Was I nuts?  (No need to answer that.  I already know.)  While my posting schedule has been sporadic, to say the least, over the years, I've never regretted that spur-of-the-moment decision.

It only took four tries to get the one that eventually made it to post.  I think that's actually a record for me.
5.  The minute I crossed the Finish Line of my first 50-miler.  If there's a life-changing moment in running, it's definitely this one.  I think most runners graduate to the big leagues when they finish their first marathon, but that distance has always been problematic for me.  I landed in the Med Tent and DNF'd my very first attempt, so crossing the finish line of my "first" wasn't the sort of pure triumph I had hoped for.  Marathons are hard for me.  I mean, they're hard for everyone - duh! - but my feelings toward that distance are just complicated.  So, why in the world did I ever think I could run 50 miles?  Well that, my friends, is just how full of myself I actually am.  Why couldn't I run 50 miles??  And I'm so incredibly glad I did (twice now).  It takes a different kind of heart and guts to get you through a distance like that and everything about that journey changed the kind of runner I am today.  I'm much gentler with myself now and also more confident.  It taught me that running for speed is a very different animal than putting one foot in front of the other for 12 hours.  That finish line showed me that I really could do anything.

One of the happiest finish lines I've ever crossed.  Everything about this day was awesome.  Except getting lost.  That sucked.

What are Five Minutes that changed your running life?  It doesn't have to be five, you can tell me one.  :)


Sharon said...

1. 5/24/13 - the trail where I went on my first run with you and finished without dying.
2. The minute I signed up for the first 5k I would RUN.
3. Unwittingly pounding down my time goal for said 5k.
4. Running my first half marathon. (Losing my toe nail has to be mentioned, but only as an after thought.)
5. Starting a "run streak" with a small goal and quickly upping my expectation!!

**note.. I'm eternally grateful for your resolve and tenacity. I said I'd never be a runner, but you never gave up on me. Thank you for all you've done for me (and TO me) to bring me here. Love you!!!

PahlaB said...

Love you too, girlie! And love that I was there for all five of the minutes that have made you an awesome runner!!

Michael Weatherly said...

This was a really cool post. Really fun idea. One for me non sport related was volunteering to work on a project at work...which introduced me to my "new boss" and a whole new position. Amazing how something that does seem so small can turn into something big.

Marcia said...

Really? Mine was the first blog you stumbled on? Hahaha! We do go way back, don't we? I love that you're blogging more again. Gosh I remember my first 5k was the biggest deal. I made my sis do it with me and I too pushed so hard at the end I was fighting back the puke. Good times!

Laura said...

I can so relate your blog "minute"! I have no idea what possessed me to start a blog either! I don't think I really thought about it. I just started one... weird.

I can think of two minutes:
1) The first time I ran two laps around the track in middle school. That seemed like such a HUGE accomplishment at the time!
2) A moment back in 2010 when I looked in the mirror and decided that I was fully capable of being in the exact shape I wanted to be in. I just had to actually do something instead of just wishing it.

dion.middelkoop said...

I've always run and always done speedwork Comrades is 88km (don't know how many mile that is...

I started a running streak a couple of years ago (bit mistake) I'm still running every day 3 years later!

Had a stress fracture back in '97 took me a long time before I started to rest, but then I called it... stop running! (I was off for 9 months)

OK maybe the minute I saw a flyer for a 5 day trail race (211km) I told I friend, we can win this get us a sponsor... (we did, and I've now had a number of trail sponsors!)

Andrea said...

The minute I decided to run in a race instead of walk and became a runner.

PahlaB said...

That was a very big minute!! It changes everything, doesn't it? :)