According to Facebook, I ran the Huntsville Half Marathon on this day in 2011. On Saturday I’ll run it again for the 5th time in a row. It’s a sentimental race to me because it was my first half marathon back in 2006 when I first attempted to become a runner and then my first half marathon in 2011 when I successfully became a runner. I failed miserably in 2006 because I tried to do it on my own and after 2 decent half marathons and one almost 8-hour marathon (that’s how long it takes if you walk 18 miles of it) I swore off running FOREVER. “I am not a runner! I hate it!” Is something I actually said. Which, if you are new here, you probably wouldn’t believe.
A year after my almost 8-hour marathon I was pregnant with Wes and wrote this:
I think the half-marathon is the distance for me. For now. I won’t train for another marathon until I’m done having kids and the ones I have are all at least potty trained. Until then, I want to try to at least run one half-marathon a year. Because that’s also a distance I feel proud about, but not one that takes me away from my family an unreasonable amount of time.
In 2011 I signed up for the Fleet Feet half marathon training course, making my first attempt back at running since that first go in 2006. That was the best decision I’ve ever made and I’ve not stopped running since. Small injuries and one failed pregnancy and miscarriage kept me out for small chunks of time…but I think the longest “break” was 2 months. I’ve completed 33 half-marathons or longer since I wrote about maybe doing one 13.1 a year. I’ve run 2 stage races (3 days in a row of racing), 7 50Ks, and 3 12-hour runs where once I ran 52 miles. In less than 2 weeks I’m doing my first back-to-back (50K on Saturday, Marathon on Sunday) and then I’m signed up for my first 100K in January.
All of that change in 4 years.
I had originally wanted to try to PR this race on Saturday, since it’s my sentimental favorite. I was hoping to try for a sub-2hour as my current PR is 2:01, but then I decided that “racing” a race instead of just “running” it one week before my 57-mile race weekend would probably be stupid. So, I’m going to show up and have fun. Period. I’m going to enjoy the race that started my career and I’m going to reflect on how much one person can change in 4 years. My only regret – if you can call it that – is that I didn’t start this journey while Dad was still alive. He was there for my almost-8 hour marathon in 2007 and I’m certain he thought I’d never do the things I’m doing now.
But…it was his death and the depression that followed and the unbearable grief that pushed me out of my comfort zone in 2010 to join boot camp and again in 2011 to join that training class. So, I guess there’s really no way he could have seen it since it was his death that pushed me down the path to begin with.
The day I ran that Huntsville Half Marathon in 2011 to complete my Fleet Feet training…I had just started considering maybe the next year doing a full marathon. I had learned what proper training could do and thought maybe I’d give it a go. There was no part of me considering triathlons though, and I’ve done a few of those in the 4 years too. I think surprising yourself once is something that ripples across your life. Signing up for the training class to begin with, then hurdling my social anxieties which made me skip some of the early weeks, then crossing the finish line with my friends? All of those things surprised me, so my self-imposed limits have stretched out further and further to where they basically don’t exist anymore. It’s all just a factor of time now.
That’s what happened to me training for the Huntsville Half Marathon in 2011, my nevers became ifs and then crossing that finish line? They turned into whens.