The first marathon!

Walt Disney World Marathon!

Once I started running,  I couldn’t stop.  Well, I did take a brief hiatus during my second pregnancy, but I started running again 4 weeks after giving birth.  It was a slow process and it is amazing how your body seems to lose interest in running if you haven’t done it in a while.  You have to give it a jump start!  Then there is the motivation issue again… fighting your way back into a running routine.  Oh well, I knew it was the only sure way to lose baby fat #2.

I ran along the coast of Half Moon Bay.  Mostly, I ran alone.  Bridget and I had moved into new homes that were nearly an hour away from each other.  It was tough to get together for consistent runs.  We still met up for the occasional race, but I was pretty much on my own.  Sometimes I pushed the jogging stroller.  Oh, the joys of jogging strollers!

Soon, it was time for us to move to Florida… a land that seemed so far, far away from all that I ever knew.  I arrived and tried to keep running.  It was so hot that I felt as though I were running in an oven.  Before I had time to adapt, I was pregnant… AGAIN!  I still ran a bit, but spent most of my days in the air-conditioned gym doing light weights and activities that weren’t so rough on my body.  However, I vowed that I would start running again as soon as this baby popped out.  I vowed to run my first marathon.  I really had to consider this after eating 10 cupcakes in one sitting.  Yes, now I had no choice but to run a marathon.

Four weeks after giving birth, I was ready!  I decided my best option would be to join Team in Training because I needed people to run with.  I needed some running buddies.  I wouldn’t get through the marathon without someone else by my side.

I saw her during the first group run.  She actually looked a bit snobby and I wasn’t sure if she was friendly.  Then I found out she was in the Coast Guard.  My goal was to get away from the Coast Guard, but I guess it was just meant to be.  The conversation started there.  I didn’t really run with her in the beginning.  She seemed rather hardcore and was always running further than the rest of the group.  Then one day I joined her on the longer run.  The next time, I joined her for an extra run over the bridge.  I ran faster and farther than I ever had before.

Tracey challenged me.  She made me realize that I could put in a little more effort and gain so much more.  We were friendly competitors always trying to outdo each other.  We forced each other to run faster and farther.  I knew I was more than ready when I stood at the starting line of my first marathon.  I probably should have been just a tad bit more prepared (or maybe I shouldn’t have indulged in so much food & drink the days leading up to the race) because Tracey whooped me in the end.  She took off and there was nothing I could do to keep up.  Oh, but that wasn’t the end of it.  I eventually got my revenge in later races.

Tracey and I had our war stories.  I remember the time she had to stop to throw up when we were training for our fastest 5K.  Or the time I tripped over my own big feet and skinned my knees in front of the Red Cross building.  There was the race where I ran on ahead (my glory days) while Tracey was stuck running alongside Jeff Galloway (her least favorite runner ever).  Speaking of Galloway, there was the time we yelled at a group of Galloways that kept stopping in front of us and blocking the whole path during the Bank Marathon. I seriously thought a high school brawl was about to erupt at any moment.

I won’t ever forget the time I went searching for Tracey in every ER in Jacksonville.  Yep, that fool decided to leave the group without telling anyone where she was going, except that she should probably get herself in the hospital.  I just happened to be running with another group on the other side of the bridge so when I returned everyone told me that Tracey was complaining about her swelling legs.  Hours later, I eventually found her at the ER on base.  I would have slapped her if she wasn’t lying prone in a hospital bed (don’t worry, after many months, she eventually de-swelled).

Tracey was the running buddy I could always count on to run with me rain or shine.  We would run together and then indulge in coffee and donuts (you can’t find too many friends willing to eat donuts in front of you).  She helped me achieve more than I ever thought possible (and I probably gained just as many calories as I burned thanks to her love of chicken wings and beer… and of course donuts).  I was truly sad the day I had to say goodbye as she headed overseas.

The first half marathon!

Napa to Sonoma half marathon

Bridget and I met while attending San Francisco State University’s teaching credential program.  We became friends the first time we started talking to each other at lunch.  It was awesome that we had all of our classes together and we even got selected to student teach at the same school right down the road from where we lived.  Of course we spent a lot of time attending classes, studying and teaching.  I don’t think I was really involved in a lot of physical activity during that time…. I was too busy trying to get through the program.

That’s why I really have no recollection of whose idea it was.  At first it was a trail run 5K.  Somehow we talked our significant others into doing the race with us.  Maybe I realized that running would help me burn off the baby fat that was still lingering even though my daughter was already 2 years old.  We ran that hilly 5K pretty well and even came in on the top 10 list… okay, so maybe there were only about 20 runners in the whole event.  I suppose that sparked the next plan.  We were going to run a half marathon.  Not just any half marathon, but the one that would take us through the vineyards from Napa to Sonoma where we would finish with some free wine tasting.

Bridget and I trained.  We ran longer and longer distances.  I remember the longest was the loop that went past her house and my house along the bay.  It was a nice run and our paces seemed to fit well together.  We would often listen to music and occasionally engage in conversation.  We suffered together.  We were able to motivate each other and make it to the start of that half marathon feeling like we could actually finish.

Bridget’s boyfriend at the time (now husband) decided that he would run the race with us.  Yeah, he didn’t train for the event, but do men ever have to train for those things?  I was surprised that my husband came, but didn’t run with us.  He could also do it on a whim if he wanted to.  Yet, he remained my best supporter and race day photographer.  The night before we all went out for pasta.  The boys insisted on wine, but Bridget and I refused. We had worked too hard to let it all go.  Besides, wine would be waiting for us at the finish line.

I remember that it was a very warm day and the vineyards never seemed to end.  I don’t think we expected quite so many rolling hills, but they didn’t bother us so much.  Finally, the finish line was in sight.  It never felt so good to cross that line.  We had just finished our first half marathon!  Wow, that was quite an accomplishment!  Too bad we weren’t really in the mood to enjoy our free wine… but the mexican food was great.

After that, Bridget and I planned to run the Rock n Roll half marathon in San Jose, but Bridget wasn’t able to finish the training due to an injury.  Yet, she was still there to cheer me on as I ran my second half marathon.  We kind of tried to keep up with each other after that.  We did a few smaller races and eventually it was time for me to move to Florida.  It was hard, but we found new running buddies and we kept running.  Bridget and I eventually finished our first marathons.

The last time I talked to Bridget she was still pushing that jogging stroller.  I look forward to running with her again!  She was my motivation to achieve greater things.  I may never have finished a half marathon if it weren’t for her.  Thank you Bridget!

My first running buddy

Jacksonville Gate River Run 2011

I have decided to dedicate the next few posts to my running buddies, past and present.  Each buddy that I will mention has had a significant impact on how I view running and has shaped the runner that I am today.  Valuable friendships have arisen from my running experiences and I will never forget the memories shared during runs (especially the painful ones :).  I hope to share with my readers the importance of running buddies.  I do find enjoyment out of running alone, but the most fun I’ve had running has been shared with others.

Let me take you back about 10 years.  I was in Officer Candidate School for the Coast Guard.  It was a 4-month officer training program that incorporated both physical and academic training.  I was always good at academics, but the physical part was a bit daunting to me.  Being yelled at to get up at 4:00 am to jump right out of bed and start doing push-ups wasn’t really my thing.  I was surprised though.  I always gave it my best even if I wasn’t the best (or if I caused others to be yelled at because I wasn’t able to crank out enough push-ups).  Of course, there running was involved.  A lot of running.  And you were never alone when you ran because you had to run like a herd of cattle trying to move in a straight line while being poked and prodded by the cowboys on the edge.  It was really hard for me not to trip over myself or anyone else since I am so graceful (not!).  The marching was just a joke.  I can’t even count how many times I was yelled at for not staying in unison with everyone else.  I guess I should have made it clear that I didn’t have a dancing background.

After about two months we finally had some freedom.  During our free time we could actually go for a run on base without the herd.  It was then that I found a running buddy.  This really sweet, adorable man who was way more fit than I was.  Actually, he ended up getting the “most fit” award in our class.  But, I have always thrived on challenges so when he asked me to go for a run I said “yes.”  Okay, so he must have cut his normal pace in half while I struggled to maintain steady breathing (forget trying to talk).  Yet, when he asked again, I said yes again.  I knew that he only ran with me because he had the hots for me.  That was okay with me.  I liked him too.

Needless to say, that man and I got married just a few short months later.  We are coming up on 10 years of marriage.  I guess you can say that this was a pretty important relationship that I gained through running.  He was always a better, faster runner than me… up until 2 years ago.  I really took the challenge and ran with it.  I spent countless hours planning and training… to beat him, of course.  And I did just that during the Jacksonville Gate River Run 15K.  During the last 1/2 mile I passed him.  Then, a few months later, I passed him during the second half of the 10-mile Pumpkin Run.  Yeah baby!  Sure, it might never happen a third time, but I won’t admit that it didn’t feel good, especially when I think back to the running days when we first met.  I have come a long ways since then!

My husband and I don’t get to run together very often anymore.  Since we have 3 kids and different schedules, we usually have to take turns.  However, my husband is my biggest supporter and I love him for that.  He knows how much running means to me and he will do anything in his power to help me achieve my goals.  I couldn’t ask for a better running buddy (or husband :)!