I might as well be starting at square one. I haven’t run at all in a couple months and I haven’t run consistently since 2009. Thanks to the new year, that was THREE years ago now. I’m being pretty ballsy by putting “run a marathon” on my list of to-dos this year. Zero to 26.2 miles in one year. That can be done right?

Thank God I have enough running under my belt that I can coach myself back to being a road/trail warrior. The first sport I participated in competitively was cross country when I was in the sixth grade. I wasn’t stellar at it. While I didn’t come in last, I definitely wasn’t in the front of the pack either. But my middle school coach taught me a lot. By eighth grade I was actually doing pretty well. Most school courses were about two miles or less. For practice we’d run our course or do repeats of part of our course which was 2.1 miles and included quite the hill and then sprinting exercises.

XC Middle School

When I got to high school I elected to participate in track but not cross country. I needed a break from cross country. During eighth grade was also the year my coach died of a heart attack at one of our meets. Needless to say, that image stayed with me. I did enjoy high school track and field. I ran the 200m, 400m, 100m, 4x100m relay, and 4x400m relay. I even tried my hand at doing the long jump and the 300m hurdles. That didn’t last long. I was not born to jump while running at full speed. I am a human being not a gazelle. Although I think my performance would have been enhanced if a lion was chasing me down for his lunch.

When I went to college, I decided to try my hand at cross country again, but not until my sophomore year. I spent my freshman year running on my own. Sometime I ran with a friend but mostly I ran by myself. I never did like running with a partner. It’s just not my style. I have to put some ear buds in and just run until I start to get tired. Then I would turn around and head back to my dorm. I ran cross country and outdoor track and field for two years. My favorite part of the work out was the ice bath at the end. During my junior year at college, I was doing 100m repeats on our indoor track (which was a suspended rubber track on top of concrete) when i collapsed mid-stride. My knee was throbbing and I hobbled to the trainer. He checked for my stability (I passed) but it hurt to try to straighten my knee. The trainer suggested I get an x-ray. A nice ambulance ride to the local hospital later, and I was told something showed up in my x-ray. Next stop was an MRI. For someone who doesn’t like tight spaces, it wasn’t so bad. I got the films and dropped them off at the hospital where the orthopedic doctor was on vacation. The hospital misplaced my films and I refused to go back. I think mostly I was scared of what the outcome would be. Worst case scenario: cancer.

XC College

A year later (yep, you read that right) a friend finally convinced me that I needed to know what was going on in my knee. I found a orthopedic surgeon who specialized in sports injuries and brought him my x-ray and a copy of my first MRI (all I had to do was return to the imaging center that I got the MRI at and request another copy). His suggestion was that I get another MRI so that he could see if there was a change. Back to the imaging center. But finally, I got good news. Well, at least better news than cancer. It was a lesion. The doc described it as a missing cobblestone in the middle of a street. He said he could try to fix it with surgery or I could strengthen the muscles and tendons that attach to my knee to stop the pain. Plan B please.

That began my hiatus from running and I actually decided to take up shot put in track. I was in the gym 5-6 days a week weight lifting. Squats were a challenge for me, but I got stronger and stronger. And I was officially the smallest girl doing shot put. I wasn’t horrible for only doing it for one season. I couldn’t even tell you my furthest toss.

My senior year of college was all about classes and my part time job at a residential facility for children with behavioral and mental health challenges. After I graduated and my part-time job went to full-time. I didn’t have all that much time to run. But at least I could run without knee pain. In 2006, I got a new job as a case manager for adults with Traumatic Brain Injuries. I began running consistently after my shift (mostly 3-11pm) which meant I was running at about 11:30/midnight. I loved running at night. I was by myself and it really helped me de-stress after a rough shift. That continued after I picked up my life and moved it hundreds of miles away to the South… until 2009. My longest run was about 13 miles… just for fun. I can’t believe I have never run in a 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon. But that will change this year. I’m gearing up for the Marine Corps Marathon held in the fall of every year. I imagine it will help me to sign up for short races along the way.

Anyone have any suggestions for fun races they’ve done in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Virginia? Also, feel free to share your training schedule for any distance races. I’ll post weekly updates once I begin training (Probably 4 months before the marathon). Keep an eye out!

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