This time of year reminds me of when I first took up running as a hobby. When I moved to Tallahassee to attend FSU in the fall of 2004, I moved in with my cousin, to whom I have always looked up. Then a junior, Charlotte showed me around the campus and one day brought me to a foreign place- it was the gym. This was big, coming from marching band being the most physical activity I’ve performed my whole life. My cousin spent a lot of time on the second floor of the Leach Center, on the elliptical machine. This was a favorite contraption among the young ladies, as cardio is the most important physical activity for women (a belief at the time). In fact, I remember there being a line waiting for the low impact, high-intensity machine.
For me, I was drawn to the treadmill. I know this machine. Growing up my mom had one in her walk-in closet, although I never saw it used. It was pretty useful for hanging additional garments though. Another nice thing about the treadmills at the Leach Center was that they were facing a huge window looking out onto a busy walkway. I became a regular by the springtime. The best part was that this antiquated machine had no wait. One of my first memories of running was watching my crush, Justin, walk to class every morning. I’d smile and wave to him frantically, while he returned a cool, nonchalant acknowledgment back.
It took way too long to hit the pavement outside. First, I started with the small paved trail outside our apartment. It was probably one mile each way. By this time I was dating Justin and we trained together for our first ever 5K. This was the first I’ve ever heard of such a race. At the Palace Saloon 5K, you earn a beer and hot dogs at the finish line. To get there was quite the effort. I had to stop and walk during and literally threw up on the finish line. It took 33 minutes.
Justin and me at my first ever 5K in 2007. Note the 100% cotton shirts and cool armband.
After moving home from FSU and moving on with my life, my running life evolved. Through a chance encounter, I became a last-minute “fill-in” for the second leg of a Sprint Triathlon. That sparked two more Sprint Triathlons within the next year or two.
Trek Women’s Triathlon in 2009 with my Sports Authority bike.
Along the way I trained and completed my first half marathon in 2012 (I run my eighth this summer in Provo, Utah), I was able to do a mud run, and even saw the other side of things while working at a running store and race management company (racetimesports.com) for a couple of years.
Joe Hunter and me after winning second place in our age/gender groups at the Seminole State 5K in 2010.
Ten years later I am celebrating with having completed my second full marathon (in under 5 hours), last year having achieved a long-awaited PR at the half marathon (1:59:31), not to leave out a PR on the 5K (25:00).
I’ve been able to watch running explode, shoes going from cushy, to minimal, to overkill support (Hoka, anyone?). Trail running and ultramarathons are now mainstream. Born to Run is becoming a movie! All right, all right, all right!
And obviously, I can do what runners do best- brag. Here’s to another 10 years a runner!