Sometimes, the road to your destination becomes clearer when you look back to see how far you’ve come. On Friday, Facebook reminded me that it’s been 5 years since my first half marathon, which I ran in 2:08:45.
Although my time has improved tremendously, I rocked the same green Hollister hoodie post-race in November at the Historic Georgetown Bridge 2 Bridge Half Marathon. Some things never change.
I know how it feels to run a 2:08 half marathon as well as a 1:41 half marathon (Hint: they both hurt). Physically, running faster gets tougher, and after five years, my beginner gains are long gone. I now work to shave seconds off a 5K or (maybe) minutes off a half marathon. I do believe my best times are ahead.
I ran three or four times a week in training, and my longest run was 11 miles. Since the area where I lived didn’t have safe places for long runs or running groups (at the time), I ran the 11 miler on the treadmill while watching a college football bowl game. Occasionally, I ran the same 1.5 mile path multiple times to reach the distance recommended on Hal Higdon’s beginner training plan.
As a veteran runner, I sometimes forget how mentally challenging it is for beginners to sign on the dotted line and enter a race. I was terrified before that half marathon- so terrified that I only told Clay I was running it. I didn’t even tell my parents until I called them on the car ride home.
I wasn’t sure I’d run another half marathon, much less run 13 (or more) miles as a weekly long run, or actually improve at the distance. I never imagined a 27 minute improvement.
Whether you’re an elite or a self-proclaimed “back of the packer”, we all have a place in the sport of running. My 15 minute 5K friends inspire me each day, and so do my 15 minute milers. After all, races are like mullets- business in the front, but the party’s in the back. I prefer to balance the business of training with the partying of having fun.
Success in running is different for everyone, and I define running success as whatever brings joy to your life. If your idea of success is improving your race times, and you’re willing to consistently train hard for months or even years, you can do it.
Run fast, take chances, and dream big.