I guess I’ve been athletic most of my life. Growing up, my family always encouraged me to play sports and remain active. In middle school, I ran both cross-country and track & field. In high school, I turned away from running slightly and devoted time to playing soccer (midfield, of course—apparently I loved running?) and participating in other activities. I don’t think I ran for myself when I was younger. I ran to have fun, spend time with my friends and to be part of a team.
When I moved to Chicago for college, I ran every now and then but I wasn’t a serious runner. I would go to the gym to run on the treadmill every once in a while but I rarely took advantage of the lakefront path just a mile from my apartment. Looking back on it now, I can’t believe I passed it up! (Clearly, I had different priorities in college.) When I graduated, I decided to make another goal for myself. I need something that would get me back on a schedule.
So, just as I do now, I put a race on the calendar. In May 2010, I ran my first half marathon in 1:56. I was incredibly proud of this time, considering my training was abysmal. I didn’t make any connections with other runners and didn’t have a support system to get me excited about the race. I trained by myself and followed a simple Hal Higdon training plan.
Running a half when I truly considered myself a “runner” was very exciting. I remember running past my friends and family saying, “I’m at a nine-minute pace! I don’t know how I’m doing this!” After running in the Indy Mini Marathon and seeing my older brother run his first Chicago Marathon in 2010, I thought, “Yeah, maybe I’ll give the marathon a try.”
My first marathon was an incredible experience. I think I still have a hard time putting it into words. It was exhilarating and fun and freeing to discover that running 26.2 miles in a matter of hours was possible. Training for and running that first marathon made me wonder how much faster I could be. And that’s why I keep running.
My cadet is my older sister, Brittany. She’s much wiser, much taller and much more disciplined than I am in almost everything she does. She’s an amazing athlete and I really don’t consider her a cadet at all. Brittany has run several half marathons, so when the opportunity came up for her to train for her first marathon, I wondered if it was something she wanted to do. I sent her a quick e-mail asking if she was interested (no pressure, right?). I crossed my fingers, just hoping that she’d say “yes.” And she did!
It turns out running a marathon has been on her bucket list for some time. And now is the perfect time to do it. Brittany lives in the Indianapolis area where we both grew up, while I now live in Chicago. We text, e-mail and call each other often so I don’t think I’ll have a hard time coaching her from a distance. Plus, once she has a plan, she’s good about sticking to it. I’m looking forward to doing a few weekend long runs with her this summer and fall. I have a feeling she’s going to surprise herself this year.
For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.