Thursday, February 23, 2012


I've been running since I was 7 years old. Competitively. I remember when I told my dad that I wanted to run the Sunburst 5K - he responded with a "well, why don't we try running that distance on the track first, and go from there?" I'm sure he thought that I would get bored by 12 laps on a track, it would make me too tired, or something else would come up that would make me not want to do this. Instead, we got done and I still wanted to run that race. (And for those wondering, it is an incredibly well-run and well-supported race. If you get the chance, run it.)

After that, running was what my dad and I did. We ran the Sunburst every year until I got to high school, did fun runs at the local parks, and he coached my grade school track team. In high school, I picked up cross country and indoor track. Combined with cross conditioning during the summer, I was running year-round. And I loved it. Until I didn't.

It was a no-brainer for me to continue running xc and track when I got to college. It was one of the benefits of going to a D3 school - I wasn't a speed demon by any means, loved the communal aspect of team running, and I could keep enjoying a sport that I'd been involved in for almost a decade already. But college was different. Mileage was upped, and that wasn't a good thing for me. I'm more of a long sprinter (400, 800) than a distance runner, so I was constantly exhausted. Going to meets and invitationals sucked up my weekends while practices sucked up my afternoons. My friends would go to the cafeteria for dinner before me because I would barely make it before it closed. It sucked. So I quit cross country, or at least quit racing. I went to practice when I could, went to meets to cheer, and called it good. And I enjoyed track, so I kept up with that for another year or so. Sprint workouts were much shorter, the sprinters were fun to be around, and meets were fun as well. But in the end, I quit track as well.

As an aside, I learned a lot about how not to coach from how coaches handled me leaving the team. My freshman year coach in college was 100% for me not competing as often, cutting down mileage, etc. The coach who came in the next year said he was for it, but really wasn't. And then when I quit track, he protested volubly. My friend who quit at the same time? She wasn't as fast, so he let her go without a word. I have stories from high school coaches douchery as well, but let's just say that they were pretty damaging to my psyche as well.

Once I quit racing, I basically quit running at all. I didn't enjoy it anymore, there was a whole lot of emotional and mental baggage associated with lacing up running shoes, and I would get incredibly nervous before even a regular old run. It wasn't until a few years later that I could begin to enjoy running again. Except for a couple half-marathon-related incidents, I was back to really enjoying running for running's sake. Because running is fun, it's a great stress reliever, and you make awesome running-related friends. So after a multi-year racing hiatus, I'm running the Tar Heel Ten Miler in April of this year with my mom. In August, I'll be running a 5K with my dad - the first race I will actually run with him in years. Am I nervous about it? Hell yes. But I feel like I'm able to own the sport again. Running is my thing. It has been my thing for a long time. And I'm incredibly excited about that.

(Oh, and the picture at the top? It's the elevation chart for last Saturday's run, the first time I willingly ran up the hill into downtown Chapel Hill. It has basically made my week. I'm pretty sure I irritated friends with my excitement about that run. But damnit, I'm excited.)


sarah (SHU) said...

aww, good old 'up the hill'! i miss that run :) hope you are doing well!!

Y said...

Didn't realise you had such a history with athletics. I was always the non-sporty kid, growing up. Still kinda am, actually. Good luck with the ten miler!!