I realized today that I never really shared my story completely on here. No worries, it’s only a few years long.
I would say that as a young kid, I was healthy and active. My mom understood what was good for her kids and what should be limited (thanks to an interest in nutrition during college) and we were raised likewise. As I got older (think 8+) I was less active and more into eating. I would say I was pudgy, but never so overweight or obese. I didn’t really care or notice, and no one else did (except I do remember a doctor visit where my doctor was talking about this with my mom and I just remember her talking about food and the key being “servings, servings”….good on ya, doc). At around ages 9/10 I remember P.E. classes. They involved sports, which involved hitting, or even, heaven forbid, kicking balls. And running out the the sign and back. The older girls I hung out with (and imitated) were fit….one was a serious ballerina, so I was toast. I remember hating the feeling of being out of shape and not being athletic like “everyone else” (I remember everyone being a superstar athlete, but that’s probably not true). I just didn’t know what I could do differently, so I moved on.
Skip ahead to age 12. I don’t remember which interest came first, just that it all happened around this time. I started jogging with my older sister and thought it was cool. Hard, but cool. I was also getting into “healthy food”. All this was encouraged by my mom, whose philosophy was “eat a balanced diet of wholesome, natural foods as minimally processed as you can have them, and have that cookie once in a while”. I got more and more interested in exercise, started going to the gym, and cleaning up my diet. I think that when I started, I weighed about 170 lbs. Yeah, not ideal for a 5 foot 3, 12 year old female.
I went to a running store at the recommendation of a nurse (I was getting shots of all things and learned about our local running store) and got a much better shoe to help my running. The service was great, the guy knew a LOT. Reading all his race bibs on the wall was how I found out people actually ran 100 mile races….”Insane!”, I thought, “I can barely make it around the block without running!”.
These super shoes were Nike’s that had a hole for a sensor….so I ordered that nifty sensor and started tracking distance and pace. I had officially caught the running bug. I remember when I decided I wanted to run a race. A race coming up in November was a 2 mile and 10 mile series. “Can I really keep running for a whole 2 miles?” I wondered. At the time, I would run and walk, totaling about 2-3 miles. I decided to do it with my aunt, a runner herself. She gets all into the races with her friends (she’s the “crazy tutu or cat sweater” lady you always see 😉 ), so of course we made shirts, mine stating that it was my first race and both of ours screaming “run fast or be last” (for the record, neither of us ran fast, although I of course was setting the pace). Based on training I was aiming for under 20 minutes. I remember seeing all the runners, some of their bibs with “10-miler” printed on the front. 10 miles! I would have bet money that I could never run that far. The race went great and I finished in just under my goal! That really boosted me. “OK, so a 5K is next,” were my thoughts.
I was starting to train more and was really enjoying my runs. Then I started having really bad back pain. I hadn’t grown in over a year, so that didn’t seem to be the problem. It was truly terrible pain (just thinking about it makes me cringe). Bending over became a last resort. I had to use a heat pad. Then the pain spread to my hips, then my knees became very sore. I had to ice them every day and running hurt. Finally I went to an orthopaedist, who ordered I have MRI’s done of my spine and hip. Not too bad, as I was already interested in going into orthopedics, so some time in a small space listening to Christmas music didn’t bother me since I had the promise of a CD copy of my imaging. Turns out my MRI’s were beautiful. Good, but not so great for identifying my pain source. Next step: physical therapy.
This was a groundbreaking time for me. My therapist was not a runner, but he was a certified athletic trainer (worked on the field with athletes). Long story short, he fixed me up over two months. I was pitifully weak in the truly important areas – glutes, hips, deep core. But I was determined to be a good patient and work super hard. He said he really saw a ton of improvement and was impressed, especially since most patients my age “rolled their eyes” at him. He also really respected me as an athlete, something that was important to me at 13. I remember when he was saying something and said I was “very much an athlete”. That made me feel really good about my running. I also identified two things about me – I have flexible flat feet (arch looks normal until weight is put on and then its flat as a pancake, which equals over pronation) and I am loose jointed (this had a lower impact on my running, but is still interesting). He recommended I go back to the store and try out some new shoes. This lead me to my babies of two years, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS.
Once all that cleared up, I really started pushing myself. By now I had discovered the FIRST training method (my favorite and the only plans I’ve used for years now). During my injury time, I got into reading all the info I could on Runner’s World. I printed off tons of stuff and made a notebook with sections. I kept dreaming bigger and, after much contemplation, printed off a page about training for a half marathon. I grew stronger and stronger, growing to love strength training (even from the start I never did easy little workouts – I was all in!). I was also losing more and more weight. In July 2012 I ran my first 5K. In December 2012 I ran my first 10K. As you know, I ran my first Half Marathon in February this year. It has been a great journey with ups and downs, but I have grown in knowledge and strength. I still have a ways to go in my weight loss, but I look forward to going towards the gal of about 120 lbs. for my marathon in February. Run on!