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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Running.....my love/hate relationship is blossoming

Take a step back in time with me to mid-February. My waist had grown, my gut had expanded, my motivation was lacking, and the deadline to sign up for the spring races was a few hours away. Working at such a great company as Chesapeake (CHK) provides one with the opportunity to enter several races throughout the year for free. CHK pays the entry fees and as long as you run the race, you don't have to pay anything. Entry deadline was quickly approaching and I was struggling with the idea of entering races, which I knew would require me to get off my butt and start running again.

I was comfortable. I had a routine. I knew it would make me change my daily life and the thought of upsetting the apple cart was holding me back. Part of me didn't think I could do it. The other part wanted to have a goal. A specific point in time I could set my sights on and push myself to the end. The competitive side won out and I faxed in my forms for the Red Bud Classic 5K and the OKC Memorial Half Marathon. I figured since I was only 10 weeks out from the Memorial, I should push myself to highest attainable goal. Thus, my relationship with running began on Feb 16, 2009.

Keep in mind I hadn't ever really ran seriously Sure, I ran for conditioning in baseball in high school. I ran around the bases as an adult playing softball. I occasionally ran a mile or two on the treadmill at the gym when I felt I needed to lose a few pounds. Never before had I actually ran. This was the beginning of something big for me. I was excited. I was nervous. I was doubtful.

Training started off really well. I picked up a training schedule from the CHK intranet and adjusted the 12 week schedule down to a 10 week schedule the best I could. I know it says you should have a base of 10-15 miles each week before you start, but I made a compromise and started from scratch. Two miles here, two miles there, and before I knew it, I was becoming a runner. I wanted to run. I looked forward to running. I needed to run.

Fast forward a few weeks and it was time for my first race. It was a Sunday afternoon. It was cold. It was windy. It was only a 5K. I honestly didn't know what to expect. I never knew that I could get such an adrenaline rush from running. The whole atmosphere on raceday was fun. It felt like I was competing. Not only against myself, but against the other 700 people running the 5K with me. I started off fast and actually finished a lot stronger than I thought I would. I ended up running a 23:19 race into a stiff north wind. I think i got around 75th overall which wasn't too shabby for my first go at this racing thing. I was hooked.

Next up, the 10k in Stillwater for the Remember the Ten run. It was a very personal race and one I ran alone. Back in January of 2001, my freshman year at OSU, 10 members of the OSU basketball team were killed in a plane crash in the Rocky Mountain foothills on the way back to Stillwater. It was a very sad time as an OSU student and fan. This race was to remember the ten. It was there to bring the OSU community together once again. I saw a lot of familiar faces and talked about the good times in college. I remembered why I love OSU. I remembered why i am and always will be a Cowboy. I also ran a great race for my first 10K. 46 min 41 sec. I got 34th overall and 10th in my age group. Another good finish for my first crack at a 10K.

Training got a lot easier for me as the weeks progressed. I looked forward to the long runs. I looked forward to pushing myself and setting new personal records. 8 miles, 9 miles, 10 miles, 12 miles. My all-time longest run has been my best to date. 12 miles on a beautiful sunny, crisp April morning with a group of 175 OKC LandRunners along by my side. It felt great. It was inspiring. It was a huge boost of confidence. At that point, I knew I could conquer the half marathon. My self-doubt has been washed away and now I am just ready. Ready to set another personal record. 13.1 miles. Me and the pavement. My goal : 1 hour 45 minutes. Wish me luck!

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