Almost eight years ago, a persistent friend peer-pressured me into signing up for my first 5k road race. I don’t remember much about my training, but I know that on race day I’d never run three straight miles before; my goal was simply to finish the 3.1 miles without walking.
I made it in a respectable 33 minutes, but it was one of the hardest physical feats of my life. For a week afterwards, I limped around, legs sore and stiff. Climbing stairs was a nightmare.
Still, the following year I signed up for the race again, and ran my first sub-30 5k, a huge feat in my mind. Shortly after that, I took up long-distance biking, and eventually Olympic-distance triathlons. But the run was never my friend. I’d smoke the swim, and kill it on the bike, only to plod along on the run getting passed by everyone I’d passed the previous two legs. I resigned myself to never running much faster than a 10-minute mile.
in the midst of a ride from Miami to Key West
The 10-minute mile mentality stuck with me for years. When I moved to Boston running became the most convenient form of exercise, and while my mileage increased over time, I didn’t get much faster. Last year, a friend convinced me to run the Reach the Beach relay, which included an 8-mile leg. I was scared, but not wanting to let the team down outweighed my fear, and I finished, quads screaming. Still, once I knew I could run 8 miles, doing 13 didn’t seem like a stretch, and so I signed up for my first half-marathon last September. After three months of training, I finished with an average pace of 10:16, and hardly ran for two months after that. When I did the Jingle Bell run in December, I couldn’t believe how hard running had become. I struggled to finish the three mile race in 32 minutes.
This year, I decided to start running more seriously. I set a goal back in January of completing three half-marathons. I started tracking my mileage via Daily Mile, and clocking the majority of my runs with the Map My Run app. Over the summer, I found an amazing running group that motivated me to get out of bed in the morning, rain or shine. I started boot camp again to work on my core and upper-body strength. On Labor Day, I ran 17 miles, doing a 10-mile run with friends in the morning, and then a 7 mile run with the group that night. My splits for both were sub-10. AMAZING.
running took me across the Golden Gate bridge/ Cambridge race/ stats by month
Suddenly, in September, I started to feel like a runner, a word I’d never used to describe myself. I felt energetic, not tortured, on runs. My form improved. When Reach the Beach rolled around, I completed 24 miles in 36 hours, and while I was sore afterwards, it was nothing compared to the way I’d felt after that first 5k. Last week, I did a training run in preparation an upcoming half-marathon. I knew I wanted to do 8 miles, but I also wanted to compete in a local 5k. So I ran an easy three miles to the race, then raced, and ran home. I finished the 5k in 26:06, a time I never dreamed of seeing.
my morning routine
I’m running my third-half marathon of the year on Sunday. My goal is to PR. I’d also love to run a sub-2 hour race, but I’m not sure if I’m quite there yet. Yet is the operative word there, and in order to motivate myself to keep running through the cold months I’ve signed up for two half marathons next year: one in February, and one in March. I’m committed to getting stronger and faster.
While general fitness is my overall goal here, I have to say it feels really great to tackle something that once got the best of me. It’s also awesome to do this alongside a group of inspirational and fun people who drive you to get out of bed on cold, dark mornings. And it’s fun to be outside rain or shine, enjoying a piece of the city that few see. It is hard, sometimes. But not once have I ever finished a workout and regretted it. Can’t say that about many things.
view on my favorite local run route
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a prize. And this muffin recipe is a pretty good one. I can’t remember how I stumbled onto it… I think I was looking for a baked oatmeal recipe that I made last year, but it might have been Twitter. I’ve blogged about other oatmeal muffins, and I’ve blogged about overnight oats– this combines those two great things into something delicious. The oatmeal is more tender after a night of soaking, and these muffins are a bit moister and fluffier than the others I blogged. If you soak your oats and then forget to cook the muffins, don’t worry. I’ve left them in the fridge for a week and still made perfectly delicious muffins.
Overnight oatmeal muffins
1 cup rolled oats (not quick/instant)
2 cups low-fat buttermilk, or regular milk
1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
6 tsp ground flax seeds
– 1 pint blueberries
– 1 cup raisins
Combine oats and milk and refrigerate overnight.
Heat oven to 350. Combine flour, wheat bran, soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In a large bowl combine milk/oat mixture with oil, sugar, and eggs. Stir well and then add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold in berries or raisins, if desired.
Spoon 1/4 cup of batter into greased muffin tins and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of ground flax over each one. Bake 18 minutes or until centers are firm. Makes 14 muffins.