I have always said “I can’t run.”
Always. I remember my best friend in high school trying to convince me to join the field hockey team with her. Definitively, as if it explained everything, I replied with absolute authority, “But I can’t run.”
I did join the field hockey team. I played goalie.
For more years of my life than not, I have been physically active. I swam competitively for over ten years. Walked. Tried Jillian Michaels. Biked. Dabbled in yoga. Walked. Tried Jillian Michaels again. I tend to think of myself as “athletic”, even though I spent the better part of a decade pregnant, lactating, or so sleep-deprived that the most cardiovascular activity I could muster was showering and brushing my teeth.
But never running. I can’t run.
Then 2010 happened, and suddenly, I didn’t know who I was. Everything that I once held as a universal truth seemed suspect, and I floundered in a sea of pain, anger, mistrust and uncertainty. It was in those waters that I tentatively began running. Rather, jogging. Slowly.
At first, it was just to complete the Heroes for Children 5k in September, 2011. I used the Couch 25k app on my phone, and jogged when I could find time – when my kids were at their father’s, when my boyfriend (now husband) was over at the house to watch the kids. After the race, I took several months off from running, only to start again to get in shape for my May 2012 wedding, and then the HFC 5k again in September, 2012.
I continued to jog, running 2-3, 10-11 minute miles, 2-3x a week. Enough for basic fitness, but not much more. This past summer, I increased my frequency, running 5-6 times a week.
I can’t tell you exactly why. There was no game plan.
Then I decided, on a lark, to add the Austin 5 mile Thanksgiving Turkey Trot to my annual September 5k. It seemed like a safe “next step” – not as far as a 10k, serving more to distract me from a Thanksgiving without my kids than a new race benchmark.
I hoped to run it in under an hour. With a sub-30 min 5k still not on the books (although I’m pretty sure now I could do it), and my longest distance at the time hovering around 3.5 miles, finishing 5 miles in hills and cold in under a 12 minute mile pace seemed ambitious, but not impossible.
I clocked in at 53:21, never breaking stride, with negative splits the last 2 miles.
It was on the
oxygen deprived delusion high of that accomplishment that I decided HEY! I can do 5 miles! How hard can 13.1 be?!
I can run, as it turns out.
Why am I running a half marathon in April? Because I never believed I could.