My Running Story

For as long as I can remember I have always been involved in a sport. My first love was gymnastics! My passion for the sport started at a young age and I started competitive gymnastics when I was in second grade and fell in love with the sport and continued to do gymnastics throughout college.  After my freshman year of college, although I loved gymnastics I felt like my body was falling apart and wanted to try something new. So I started coaching gymnastics to stay involved in the sport, but I didn't want to sit around a be a normal college student, so I contacted the head coach of the track and field team and asked if they would be interested in having a pole vaulter who was a gymnast. They were thrilled to have me and let me be a walk on to the team. Now of course I had no clue what I was doing, but I learned fast and fell in love with pole vaulting. At the time we had to do a lot of speed work with the sprint group and they even made us run the 200 at track meets. This was so embarrassing at the college level because everyone else was so fast and I looked like a lost rabbit out there. We would also go for some longer runs *gasp 3 miles* and I felt like it was the longest run ever. Some of my friends were CC runners and I always thought they were nuts for running long distances and never could image myself being interested in running or wanting to run a marathon.
Me coaching at a gym meet
After college I moved from Ohio to Fredericksburg, VA to take a job with the govt. I had an ungodly commute, a new job, no friends, and more importantly NO SPORT! Everything was so new and I felt like my world was turned upside down. All my life I have had to balance school, friends, and a sport. I was used to being busy and now all I was doing was working and coming home to do nothing besides being depressed. So, I joined Washington Sports Club and started working out everyday after work. I would run 3-4 miles, bike for a half hour, abs + weights, and sometimes through a step class in there too. Basically my life became work, workout, sleep. But I still felt like I was just working out with no real purpose since I was not competing in anything and still something was missing. Then I found out that one of my coworkers was going to run a marathon and he told me I should train for it too since I liked running 3 miles about 5 days a week. I really didn't want to run a marathon and had been looking at doing some 5ks on my own, but I didn't think I would be fast enough for a 5k as I was not a sprinter and I was really just scared to try something new when I had no clue what I was doing. Long story short is I never sign up for a 5k and somehow got suckered into signing up for the Marine Corp Marathon. Basically there was about 7 people from my office that were going to run it that year (04) and I secretly really wanted to run it as well. One of my co-worker said he would sign me up and pay my entry fee and I never believed he would actually pay for me. Boy was I wrong. Our deal was if I didn't run it I would have to pay him back. I was scared and nervous and had no clue how to train for something like this! But, now I wasn't just running to running, I was running with purpose and a goal! This was a great feeling! During this time I was also moving from terrible Fredericksburg to Odenton, MD which would free up a lot of my time (what! a half hour commute on the MARC) and make training easier. I lived just 2 miles from one of my co-workers who was running the marathon and we did most of our long runs together. It was so nice to have a training partner but I soon found out I was faster than him, which made some of our long runs hard to do.
My first race was the Fredericksburg Ambulance 20 Mile Run about 3-4 weeks before the Marine Corp. I was so nervous because I didn't know what to expect out of a race? There was 5 of us total from my work who were running this, so it eased my nerves a bit to know I would have someone to run with. The weather was perfect for the race and I felt great while running! I left 2 of my co-workers at about mile 10 and ran ahead of them for the last 10 miles. At about mile 15 I remember thinking I can't believe I have 5 more miles to run and how in the world am I going to be able to finish a marathon in just a couple of weeks! I finished strong though and def could have ran another 6 miles! My official time was: 3:21:46. I was doing the math in my head and was excited to think I could finish the marathon in a little under 4:30. This race was good for two things: 1) I found out that I love races! The people cheering you on and all the other runners around you was just wonderful! 2) I was now confident I could run a marathon w/o dieing!

Finally it was time for the Marathon that I had been training for so hard. My parents came down to support and cheer me on! They are the best and have always come to all my sporting events :) We took the metro down and I met up with about 4 of my co-workers who ran about the same pace as myself. It was super, super hot that day! Like some kindof freakish heat wave at the end of Oct. I think it ended being 90 degrees that day! Yikes! My run started off well and I felt strong. I had trained with walk breaks after every 10 minutes and did so in the race as well. The crowed as great during this course and I saw my parents at several points during the run which made me feel so happy! At one point my dad ran with me for a mile, which I think was the best mile in the whole 26 miles! Probably around mile 15-17 (Haines Point) I felt like I was going to die! Just a few short weeks ago I felt so strong at this point in the 20 mile race, but today with the heat I thought for sure I could not finish the race, but I had never quit anything in my life. I literally had to walk about 2 miles around this point :( My friends were nice and walked with me instead of running ahead. I remember thinking I have no clue what I am doing out there and am never going to run again in my life. But, I finally got a little more energy and started running again as I crossed the 14th street bridge (which was hell in itself). Not only were my legs killing me, but my lips I think were to the point of bleeding! Luckily I saw my parents again at about mile 20 and my mom ran me some chap-stick! This was a real life saver! And at this point I knew I only had 6 miles left and knew I could finish even if I had to walk some more. About mile 23 I was so sick of running and really just wanted to be done! I started to pick up my pace and ran ahead of my friends (even though they had stuck with me the whole time). I felt like I was running so fast, but I was probably only doing a 9 minute pace for the last 3. I could see the finish line then saw that damn hill at the end. What the F is a hill doing at the end of the marathon. I ran up the hill slowly and finally crossed the finish line, which was the best feeling ever! I finished in 5 hours, which is not a good time at all, but I finished! 
Running through G-town during the Marathon

With my mom at the finish of the Marathon
While training for my first marathon I realized that I loved being able to train for a race and I think I fell in love with running along the way. I felt like I had found a new sport and my life felt complete again. Even though I told myself while running the marathon that it was the stupidest most painful thing I had ever done and I would never do it again, I somehow forgot about those feelings as soon as I finished! And I found myself looking up all these races to sign up for and ran the Baltimore marathon the following year! Long story short .... a runner was born :)
Running the B-more Marathon with Jess

At the finish of my second marathon