Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oh, running memories

I didn't run more than a lap around a basketball court until I was 23 or so. I did a 5K occasionally (very, very slowly) and always said I 'hated running' and 'wasn't built to run' until I was 26 or so. On a whim, I signed up for the Aloha Run in 2008 - it's a 8 mile run from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. I had never run more than 3 miles, and I was terrified. It took me almost an hour and a half to finish; but I did it. I thought then, if I can run 8 miles, why can't I run 13?

So I signed up for a half marathon in 2008. I also signed up my husband, who had just returned from a deployment and had not trained at all. We finished, but I remember not being able to walk later that day. I think our time was about 1:57.
Perfectly in step, that's how we roll. Also, really bad hair decisions (aka that 2" ponytail here)

So we conquer that one. We later went on to run another half marathon later that year, shaving 5 minutes off our pace. My husband, K, can run much faster than me, but he often chooses to run races with me because he says "it's more fun that way" (yes, he's awesomesauce, and no, you cannot have him, he's mine). 

We then bit the bullet and signed up for our first full Marathon. It was the Maui Paradise Marathon, and it was the inaugural event. We were totally clueless about races. We assumed that all races were pretty sizable. WRONG. The Maui Paradise Marathon only had about 50 runners total for the full marathon. For most of the race, it felt like a training run; we couldn't see anyone behind us or ahead of us. A few hours before it started, there was a terrible thunderstorm with lightning (very uncommon in Hawaii) and sheets of rain; for the first 10 miles or so, we got pounded with rain that stung the skin. This was pre-LASIK - I even had a contact lens pop out at mile 9 (I managed to catch it and get it back in my eye). The roads were flooded - we had no choice but to run through 6-10 inches of water at some points. All this was really exhausting, and then in the 14-20ish mile point was an out and back on a tiny rural road of mean, short, steep hills. At 18 or so I told K I just wanted to quit. He wouldn't let me, so we walked on and off and finally got to the finish - soaked from head to toe. I really wanted a sub-4 hour marathon, and we missed it: we finished in about 4:20.

Totally soaking wet. My shorts kept falling down because they were so heavy!

We finished. Yes, I am crying.

I burst into tears at the finish line. The girl that handed me my metal was terrified. I think she thought I was hurt. I wasn't hurt (I mean, I was in physical pain) but I think I was just overwhelmed. I'd spend 4 months training and it felt like it was over so fast. And it really didn't go the way I wanted (gross understatement).

So later that year, my husband left again for deployment, and I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. Mostly because I am super stubborn and I really wanted a good marathon experience. A REAL marathon experience with cheering crowds in a big city. A friend of mine met me there and ran it with me. I lived in Hawaii at the time, and since I was a relatively newbie runner I knew nothing about gear. I checked the forcast a few days before and realized it was going to be cold at the start in Chicago - so I packed the only pair of tights I owned and I bought long-sleeve DriFit shirt at the Nike store. Oh, how dumb I was! It was 25 degrees at the start. It was a shock to the system for sure. Biggest mistake? I didn't have gloves. My hands were so swollen at the finish that I couldn't get my rings off for about 3 days.

But it was an AMAZING experience, and we hit our goal - we finished in 3:55:56. Can you tell we were happy? For the last 3 miles we were totally delirious (runners high is real, fo sho) and we kept saying back and forth to each other "we're doing this!" "we are really doing this!" I am sure we sounded insane.

Oh, Christen, if only you had known about winter running gear... you could have prevented THIS:

We look great for having just run 26 miles, but OMG sausage fingers! It was SO painful.

So after that I said to myself, "Alright, successful marathon DONE. Check off life list" and went on with my life without considering to ever do another one. I had a pretty significant IT band injury only a couple months after Chicago and was unable to run more than 2-3 miles for 7 months (with the exception of running the Aloha Run again with that injury - VERY stupid). We moved to SoCal, and ran a half marathon in LA:

We're back bitchez! Finished in like 1:50.

And then, of course, K leaves again. So I threw myself into other things - like going to 6 spin/gravity/bootcamp classes a week. I also was in full-time grad school and working 30 hours a week. I tend to do crazy sh** like this when K leaves - I totally overload myself to stay busy. So last summer, I ran 3 half marathons, which was a blast:

RnR San Diego. J's first half! I talked her into starting to run. I am a very persuasive friend. 
I set a new PR: 1:45:55

K came home! Napa to Sonoma Half. BEST RACE EVER! 1:51-ish. It was my birthday. I consumed copious amount of wine! Also, the medal is a wine stopper. Only useful medal I've ever received!

 AFC Half. I HATED this course. The elevation profile is basically a giant U shape.
And there was no free beer at the finish. BOO. 1:52.

And that leads up to today... we've been running a lot of shorter races - and I've gotten a lot faster. We moved (AGAIN... 4th time in 6 years, yay for military life!) to Boston in the fall and running REALLY got back in my blood. This is the first time in my life I've been able to consistently run sub-8 min miles, so I have got my eyes set on another marathon in the fall where I can hopefully BQ!

And that's my (brief) running history! Now we're off today to Nashville to run yet another half. We were at a hockey game on a Friday night when we got a text from an old friend asking if we wanted to run it. We were a few beers into the night and we said 'OF COURSE!' and signed up from our phones. The moral of this story: don't drink and sign up for races! I am excited to go, but it has cost us a small fortune and generally left a bad taste in my mouth already for RnR races. I think this will be the last one we do. From now on, smaller local races that don't want to take all our $$$.

Looking forward to wearing my cowboy boots and having some warm weather! 

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