Monday, October 17, 2011

The Very First Time

I remember my first time.  Do you remember yours?

It was hot.  Very hot.  And sweaty.  Oh so slippery sweaty.  And it hurt...

Minds out of gutters, please!  I'm talking about the first time I ever went running.  And here you thought my blog was going X Rated.  No.  Not yet...unless there's a "Naked Marathon" somewhere that I can use for an N.  Although naked running is likely bad naked, I'm pretty sure!

Jokes aside, I want to talk about the first time I ever went for a run.  Yes, I have been for many, many runs.  Thousands, maybe.  But the very first run?  It is etched in my brain forever and holds a special place in my heart.

I had decided that it was time to get the bod back into fighting shape after several years of neglect.  I was a competitive swimmer in my misspent youth, and years and years of two practices daily and the pool had kept me in great shape.  Unfortunately, I moved onto university and decided that I was going to focus on other activities and wasn't going to spent my twenties going back and forth and back and forth in the pool, so I quit.  And discovered beer.  And parties.  A lot, a lot of parties.  And late night chicken fingers and pizza delivered right to your residence room.  And $5 pitchers at the Den.  I think everyone can see the picture and it's certainly not a pretty one.  Needless to say the weight gain was rapid and I was left with more than a few extra pounds to lose.

The decision to run, truthfully, was not one that I put much thought to.  I owned running shoes (cross trainers, actually) and I had two legs.  Done.  I had all of the necessary equipment.  So, one fateful, sloppy, warmish spring afternoon, I set out on my very first run. 

This is what I was wearing:
1. Adidas men's cross trainers.  Really.  Men's cross trainers.  Apparently that salesperson knew exactly what was going on the day they sold me those.  And I knew exactly what was going on that day because I purchased them.
2.  A T-shirt- an old and likely over sized one.  Recall, I had gained a few pounds.  And I wasn't super pumped about it.  Nothing like an over sized cotton tee to hid the jiggling.  Ugh.
3. Sweat pants.  No commentary needed.  And men's tube socks.
4. A large, red O'Brien fleece.  That's right- polar fleece.  The stuff that gets HEAVY when you sweat.  And then makes you cold.
5. My earmuffs, also known as my earphones that went with my equally awesome bright yellow Sony Sports Walkman.  Have I mentioned that I am not cool?  At all?

Anyhow, I set out to run from the top of McKenzie Portage Road, around Keewatin, and then onto Keewatin Beach Road and back to McKenzie Portage.  This is likely about a 6km loop- nothing too crazy, perhaps 25 minutes in total? Or  maybe even 30 since I was a newbie.  I ran one lap and then, because I'm crazy like a fox, I ran another one.

And guess what?  It was NOT awesome.  Not at all.  It hurt.  My muscles ached like they had never been used before and my knees felt kind of funny.  I was winded and breathing like a rabid dog.  However, all was not lost. Despite the extreme physical difficulty, I actually felt a sense of accomplishment of my two loop run.  I had decided to do something about the extra pounds gained from all the Den beer and I had just gone out and done it.  And that felt pretty great.  It didn't feel great the next day when I was so sore I could hardly walk, but mentally and emotionally, it felt simply awesome.  And that was enough to keep me going.  To put one foot in front of the other again and again and again.  Soon the 25 minutes didn't feel so terrible.  I was able to go for longer, tackle hills and run at a faster pace.  Then I ran just a bit further, to the Dairy Queen in Norman, in fact.  And then I ran a bit longer a bit more often. Until one day, I suddenly found myself at the starting line of my first half marathon, and almost one year later, my first full marathon. 

If you are thinking about starting running, if you are training for a race, or recovering after a race or just running for fitness, it really doesn't matter.  Because you, yes YOU, are running.  Amazing, fabulous, awesome and totally cool.  Please take a moment and think of yourself as a runner.  Maybe even say out loud, "I am a runner." Not a person who runs to lose a pound or two or person who might run a couple of times a week or a person who runs but can't fathom running in a race or a marathon or a 10k or a 5k.  YOU ARE A RUNNER.  Wherever you are in that journey, be proud of it and honour yourself by referring to yourself as a runner.  Running is not an easy endeavour.  It is a tough, physically and mentally demanding activity. To run and then to keep on running is not for the faint of heart, so be proud of that!

Since that first time, I have acquired some actual running gear (I think I am single handedly supporting lulu's running line), gone through umpteen pairs of actual running shoes (first Nike and now Asics for a long time), have a GPS watch that uploads my routes, pace, calories burned and endless other running information to my computer, and have several marathon bibs.  I have figured out the ins and outs of marathon training (but I still have much, much more to learn), have joined running groups, started running groups, trained half marathoners, volunteered at races and travelled with amazing friends to amazing races in amazing places.  I have taken up yoga to prolong my running life, gone back to the pool for some great cross training, hit the trails with new found running friends and am a lululemon running ambassador.

And all because one day, in the not so long ago past, I laced up those cross trainers, threw on the red fleece and went for a run for the very first time.  You just never know where the path will take you.  You just have to decide to take the path.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Double

Two posts in one short weekend, my faithful followers!  Several items of consequence to pass...

First.  I was the guest runner at the Centennial High School X-Country practice on Friday.  FUN.  It was sunny.  It was hot.  And we had the best time.  I was super impressed with this small but tenacious bunch!  In particular, I had the pleasure of meeting a young runner who, for privacy's sake, shall remain nameless.  Now, I imagine, this one is going to be a GREAT runner.  Better than great, actually, I think she is probably going to be a fabulous runner.  She has all the qualities that will take her far in running- dedication, perseverance, and a true love of the sport.  I hope she realizes what a talented athlete she is, but more than that, I hope she remembers that the races, the training, the miles and miles and should always be fun!  You focus.  You train.  You race.  And in the end the only person you need to impress is yourself.  Anyhow, the last city X-country race is on Wednesday- so I hope everyone out there in the running community can send some energy her way for an amazing run! 

Second.  I was going for my long run this morning.  My Sunday morning partner couldn't make it as he was feeling under the weather.  20 minutes in, I ran into Miss AW, soon to be marathoner extraordinaire as she is running in her first marathon next weekend in Victoria.  I so appreciated her company and conversation on this run.  Made the first 2 hours of my run go by so quickly!  Thanks buddy! 

Third.  Random Ryan from Vancouver who builds racing canoes who was Calgary this weekend in a paddling race prior to running his dog around the reservoir, it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.  Best of luck with your Las Vegas training.  I so appreciated being able to run with you for the final 30 minutes of my run this morning, because let me tell you, after just about three hours and almost 35km, I was starting to feel it.  The company and distraction were most excellent.  You will likely never, ever read my blog (unless it goes viral, which really it should- come ON peeps, pass it on :), but thanks a million!

Running WAS really all around this weekend!

Last.  I'm thinking Ottawa for my spring marathon.  Thoughts? 

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Check it.

I like it.  Not an even number but even numbers in it...and the double 63 bodes well.  At least I sure hope so!

NYC marathon is in 1 short month.  I have a lot, a lot, a lot of training to take care of in this shortest of time periods!  This, I am looking forward to!  I just need the old bod to hold up for an intense month and then I will be out there pounding the pavement on marathon Sunday with 45 000 other crazies in the Big Apple.

This week I had the pleasure of a tempo run with PDiddy.  No, not THAT PDiddy.  The one that lives right here in Calgary and is a super fast runner.  I met him on the track doing intervals one fine day last winter and we got to chatting.  Finally our (running) paths converged and we got to do a super quick session on Tuesday evening.  And by super quick, I don't mean the run was short; I mean rather that it was FAST and HARD.  Being the competitive gal that I am, I am never one to back down from a challenge, despite feeling a wee bit nervous about my ability to keep pace during this workout.  The result was that this was one of the greatest training runs I've had in a long while.  We repeated 1.3k 6 times and maintained a pace that was GREAT for me (a bit better than 3:05 marathon pace) and on the top end of slow for PDiddy.  I would just like to give a big shout out to PD for taking me running, for the encouragement, for reminding me that I CAN and WILL run fast when I set my mind to it AND for sacrificing one of his own speedy sessions to slow it down and help me out. He even emailed me my lap times.  All of this I truly, truly appreciate!

Big. Long. Run. Tomorrow morning.  And now I must rest.