Two months ago, I hit a pretty significant milestone: ten years of running. I began in June of 2007 at the age of 36 . On day one, I thought I was going to die during a 1/4 mile run on a treadmill. It was terrible but intriguing. I kept running at the YMCA that June, slowly increasing my distance, and sometime later that month, I ran my first nonstop mile outside. I still remember it well. Red-faced and gasping for breath, I walked into the house and told my husband, "I just ran a mile!" He was duly impressed. June in Tennessee is probably not the ideal month to start running outside, but I do enjoy a challenge!
My first 5K was that August in 34:59. My goal had been under 35 minutes. I was immediately hooked and proceeded to run one 5K a month for the next several months, beginning a string of PRs (personal records). I like to call this the honeymoon period. Every race was faster than the one before it. In February, I upgraded to the 10K distance and finally broke 30 minutes in the 5K. I joined the local running club. In April, I ran the Country Music Half-Marathon with 30,000 other runners, with a happy 2:19 finish.
I find it difficult to dabble. After the half marathon, I was all in. I continued running 5K's, 10K's, and half marathons, sometimes multiple races per month. Since I don't like to do anything half-way (see what I did there?) only twenty-two months after that first short run, I completed the Country Music Marathon. Then I decided I needed to share all of this running goodness with others. I became a Road Runners Clubs of America certified running coach. Just after the start of my third year as a runner, I was hired by the YMCA to coach a half-marathon training group. Since then, I've coached over 140 half marathoners.
For a few years, my life revolved around running-- my own runs, my running friends, competing in races, running club activities, and coaching others. It was more than a hobby and a job, it was a one-dimensional way of life. I planned my week around my runs, not my runs around my week. My type-A-ness took over. I was consumed by it. I think after having been a stay-at-home mom for 5 years at the time, I was just thrilled to have something FOR ME outside of these four walls, outside of being a mom and a wife. Other than my family, it was the primary source of my fulfillment as a human.
In hindsight, I see I was not just immersed in running, I was drowning in it-- to the detriment of my own health. I was somehow able to remain uninjured the first few years of running, but when my obsession got the better of me and I began experimenting with ultramarathons and multiple marathons a year (plus Crossfit), I found myself injured part of the year every year. There might be a pattern there, or maybe it was just turning 40!
During one particularly challenging training cycle in my early forties, my immune system decided to attack my thyroid gland. I noticed my body was breaking down, my hair was falling out, I was constantly fatigued, I couldn't sleep, and my emotions were, let's just say, volatile. There is a family history of thyroid disease on my mother's side. There can be a genetic component that is latent until some source of stress activates it. Did running give me hypothyroidism? No. Did training extremely hard for a goal race with little recovery, high mileage, and too many "quality" runs? Probably. Since my foray into hypothyroidism, my race times and enjoyment of double-digit runs have both been slowly but definitively declining. I have had to learn to let go of the runner I once was and embrace the one I am now. A quick(ish) two-miles? Run/walking a gentle 6 or 7? Sign me up!
Monday, August 21, 2017
Two months ago, I hit a pretty significant milestone: ten years of running. I began in June of 2007 at the age of 36 . On day one, I tho...
For about a year, my right IT band has been bothering me after long runs. It actually started on January 1, 2014. There is a bursa (flu...
Today's Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon was fraught with weather drama ! All week we'd been warned about possible thunderst...
It's been a while! Right after my last post, I ran the Indian Celina trail half marathon, which turned out to be an important day in my...