Soccer became my go to sport. I spent countless hours on the field and kicking the ball off my neighbor's railroad tie wall. I must have driven the neighborhood crazy with the sound of that ball hitting that wall over and over!
In high school, in addition to playing soccer for the school and the traveling team, I also signed up for indoor and outdoor track. I was a sprinter and did rather well, placing often enough to earn my varsity letter my freshman year.
I went to college and became a cliche, gaining 15 pounds my first semester. I vowed to eat better and exercise while on break and for the first time I bought a pair of running shoes that weren't flats and started running on the road. I quickly burned off all the weight I gained. That summer, my boyfriend started making me go to the gym with him, and I became hooked. In fact, years later, I would meet and fall in love with my husband at the gym where we both worked out!
I did a few races here and there while I still lived at home, but it was usually only if someone else was doing it and wanted a partner. When I moved to Maine in the summer of 1998, Joan Benoit Samuelson decided to plan and host a 10k in Maine. She invited some of the world's elite runners to participate and I decided to sign up for it as it would be my last athletic event as a single gal. Running the inaugural Beach to Beacon 10k was exhilarating and I vowed to do more races.
The next few years were a whirlwind of babies and breastfeeding and attempts to fit in runs with the jog stroller whenever possible. In the spring of 2006 I made the decision to run a marathon and started to train for the Maine Marathon. I did all of my weekly runs pushing my youngest two in a double jog stroller and woke early on the weekends to get my long runs done. On Sunday, October 1, 2006, I completed my first marathon, finishing in 4:02.
My running career took a major detour shortly after. I was broadsided less than a week after the marathon. We were all okay, but the driver's side door was pushed in and badly bruised my leg, forcing me to take some time off. Just as I was starting to heal, my youngest child was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and most of my time was spent bringing him to various therapy sessions. (Glad to report that all of those therapy sessions were worth every second of running I missed!)
Then I got sick. And I missed a lot of time running. I also unfortunately gained 60 pounds due to a combination of lack of exercise and high doses of prednisone.
But now I am back. I have been running a few 5k's both local and joining up with some high school friends to do the Lincoln Tunnel Challenge to raise money for NJ Special Olympics and do the Warrior Dash as our girl's weekend!
(Warrior Dash 2011! Only a few weeks until the next one!)
I have also started running 5k's with my kids. My son and I did one in Portland and it was cold and wet, but he did great.
Both my son and daughter ran with me during a local 9/11 memorial run. We had a good time and helped raise money that went to local high school students in memory of Stephen Ward, a local man who died on 9/11.
The race that keeps me motivated and seems about the right length for me to log miles is the Pinelands 25k Trail Run. This is part of a running festival and is a wonderful experience. There are 5k's on Saturday (regular 5k, barefoot 5k, canine 5k) as well as a 10k. On Sunday, runners compete in a 25k, a 50k and a 50 miler. All races are run along the beautiful trail system at Pinelands located in New Gloucester. This is my second year doing the 25k and I also did the 5k with two of my kids on Saturday.
Woo Hoo! 25k done!
Jumping for Joy at the finish.
I'm going to be aiming for the Maine 1/2 Marathon this fall on September 30th. I'm finding that registering for a race keeps me motivated to get the miles in, particularly on days when the dreadmill is the only option.
I'm hoping this time next year I am updating on my preparation for a full marathon or about taking the next step at Pinelands and doing the 50k! I put the 50 miler on my bucket list, but that will probably have to wait until my children are in college.
Until then, I just keep putting one foot in front of the other!