This is part of series I wrote in 2011, which describes my progression from non-runner to Ironman athlete — a long journey that I am very proud of! I hope this story will inspire you and help prove that you can achieve the impossible, no matter where you start. Links to the rest of the story are at the bottom of this installment.
I grew up as a dancer – from age 2 through college. That was my life, I spent countless hours in the studio & on stage and LOVED it! I never really thought about it as working out, it was fun. After graduating college, however, it was a lot harder to find an outlet for my dancing. The adult classes in my area weren’t intended for those of us who had danced all our lives. I tried the gym thing – lifting weights & cardio thrown in, but that was tough for me to get excited about. I didn’t really have a reason to be going to the gym, no purpose that excited me.
When we moved into our first house, I decided running sounded like a good idea. How hard can it be – just put on some shoes & head outside. That is a lot easier to say than to do – I couldn’t even run to the front of my neighborhood (.2 miles – I clocked it!). I was a good “internet researcher” and found the Couch to 5K program and slowly run/walked my way to the 5K distance over the next 3 months. I finished my first 5K, with a little walking thrown in, in less than 45 minutes and was thrilled!
Being a goal-oriented person, I figured if I could run 3 miles; 6 miles must be better. I signed up for a 10K and found an online training plan to get me there. I don’t remember the time from my first 10K, but I do remember that I was getting hooked. I didn’t really like running, but I loved the feeling after I was done with a run! One crazy day, over lunch with my hubby & friend, I decided to sign up for the Disney Marathon. I hadn’t run over 6 miles yet, but I had 6 months and I like a challenge! Did I mention I’m a Disney fanatic? :)
I trained a lot with my Dad for my first marathon, which was really fun. I remember how scary it was hitting the longer distances for the first time. 14, 16, 18, 20 – yeow! I actually don’t remember if I finished the full 20 miles before my first marathon, hmm…. The week before the marathon, we went on a short vacation with some friends (over New Years) and I came home SICK with the FLU?!? After all that time and energy training, there was no way I was not racing. My “carbo-loading” the night before the race consisted of a few noodles and a half a banana – that was all my stomach could really handle.
The race itself was really tough. I was okay for the first 8 miles, but the remainder of the 26.2 was a struggle. My body was just wiped out and not really recovered. I did beat the sag wagon and finished the race within the cut-off: 6:45! I could barely walk the next two days, but the joy of completing a marathon was overwhelming. I signed up for my second shortly after – the Chicago Marathon.
I trained with a group for my second marathon, Get Fit Atlanta, which was a great experience. This was the first time I really felt the community of runners and how integrating running as part of my social life made it more fun! My second marathon was much better than my first, but I still had a tough experience and finished feeling completely wiped after 5:40. It took me several years to sign up for marathon #3.
To be continued…
Missed any of the 4-part Couch to Ironman series? Check out the links below!