“I didn’t plan on running today, but those cops came out of nowhere!”
And just like that, a runner is born. Everyone’s story is different – some are born to run, some are born out of necessity. I started my journey out of necessity 16 years ago. I had embarked on my weight-loss journey in January 1997 by joining my local YMCA and immersing myself in their group exercises classes. By April 1998, I had lost 35 lbs and had become a full-fledged group exercise addict, attending class every single day of the week. When I decided to take a week-long vacation that year, I realized to my horror that I couldn’t take my fitness instructor with me. What do you mean you can’t go with me on vacation so I can still work out? I had to improvise so that first day of vacation in June 1998, I hopped on the treadmill at the hotel gym and a runner was born. Born out of necessity to stay on track even while on vacation.
Looking back at those early years, I limited myself mentally and physically on what I could achieve. For those first 5 years, my running was confined to the treadmill (except for a few short road races). And the most I would run was a 10K distance. I was afraid of what would happen if I tried going farther.…maybe my legs would fall off, maybe I’d faint. Never did it cross my mind that I could actually succeed. Fast-forward to April 2005, now a mother of two, a toddler and a newborn, and going through a divorce. It was an emotionally draining time for me and I was looking for outlet to escape, if only temporarily, the personal turmoil and uncertainty in my life. That was year I committed to running my first half marathon. I had no idea what I was getting myself into as the thought of running 13.1 miles was terrifying but it was the distraction I needed. This was also the first time I took my training outside. Up to this point, I was a treadmill runner only. So, gripped with anxiety and fear, I joined San Jose Fit Run Club and benefited from their weekly group runs, training plans, and informational sessions. For 7 months, I committed to this training, and it paid off. I completed my first half marathon on October 30, 2005, finishing in 2:15:22. My love for the half marathon distance was born. Born out of necessity to deal with the unpleasantness of divorce but hey, running is cheaper than therapy. I can say without a doubt that my half marathon experience defined that time in my life. The positivity of that experience still outweighs the negative 9 years later.
I’m a creature of habit, and I like being in my comfort zone until I’m forced, pushed, kicked, or punched out of it. Well, turning 40 last year was the needed kick in the pants to finally achieve a long sought-after goal of completing a marathon. A good friend of mine had been pushing me in that direction and dropping a hint here and there that now was the time. This is the same person who convinced not only once, but twice to do Tough Mudder so I knew I couldn’t say no when he suggested The San Francisco Marathon. My birthday month is in August so the timing of last year’s TSFM in June was perfect. I signed up in January 2013 and started the mental and physical preparation that a marathon warrants. I even had a time to beat – Oprah’s marathon time (4:29:15). In fact, I had an event-filled February and March to keep me on task – TAJI 100 challenge (100 miles in 28 days), three half-marathons, a marathon relay, and a 5-mile race – all in the span of 10 weeks.
By early April, I was broken…literally. Lower back, IT band, and knee issues came out in full force which forced me to the sidelines. There was only 10 weeks left before TSFM and running was out of the question. The good thing was I never gave up my group exercise classes. I found a balance of running and fitness classes that’s worked for me over the past few years. In fact, I’m now a certified Les Mills instructor in three of their formats – BODYCOMBAT, BODYSTEP, and GRIT. I used these classes to help me stay physically and mentally fit for the 26.2 miles that were looming ahead. Postponing my first marathon experience was not an option in my mind because it’s not like I could postpone turning 40. It was going to happen. Meanwhile, I had to reset my time to beat so I honed in on Al Roker (7:09:44). Sunday June 16, 2013 arrived with all the excitement and fear I expected and to my surprise, participating in The San Francisco Marathon event turned out to be the most exhilarating experience of my life. I ran, jogged, walked, and pranced my way from start to finish in 5:09:52, and most importantly, without injury. My love for the marathon was born. Born out of necessity to cross it off the bucket list before turning 40 and to beat Al Roker.
If I were to ask 100 people why they started running, I’d hear 100 different stories. Actually, if I were to ask my kids why they participate in 5K races, they’d blame me. They’re born to run out of necessity to not make Mom mad. What can I say? They’re smart kids.