On Running Happy

To say that I’m ready is an understatement…

Let me start from the beginning (of 2012). During the first half of this year, I really struggled with running. The first three races of the year were half marathons I promised myself to train hard for, and all turned out to be complete flops. I wasn’t motivated. I wasn’t excited about my daily runs. And I certainly was lacking the kick in the a$$ I needed to train for my first full 26.2 in two years – the New York City Marathon – later in the year. I knew that running was a privilege and I was lucky to be “one of those people” who could head out for a casual 10 mile run, but I had started to take it all for granted.

Additionally, I had felt myself getting slower and less confident despite the successful weekly mileage I was able to piece together from time to time. I had a glimmer of hope for SFM since I knew the course and I knew my fellow Ambassadors would make it a fun weekend, but did not put in the right amount of training for the race (the first half marathon) and I had to settle for “not racing” expectations and treated it as my first long training run for NYCM.

In looking back at my NYCM training, July 29th turned out to be the definitive moment when my running mojo took a turn for the best. For the second year, I found myself in San Francisco for SFM and, as an Ambassador for the race, I found myself surrounded by nothing but true runners high for four straight days. It was my first time traveling to a “destination” race alone (my runner-couple better-half was in London for some big sporting event) and although I had run the race the year before, something about this year was different.

As an Ambassador, I spent the previous twelve months getting to know some of the most inspirational, enthusiastic, experienced and just-plain-awesome runners around. Whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, email chains or blog posts (yes, we were a chatty and savvy bunch) I spent the year in awe of these amazing individuals. Nancy was kicking butt at local races in Boston, Peter was running crazy amounts of ultras all over the place and Charlie was taking names and winning marathons left and right all up and down the west coast. I’ve never been an “age group winner” and certainly not ready for an ultra (yet!), but I would frequently find a sense of confidence from talking to these fellow runners throughout the day as I awaited my next PR and signed up for the next local race.

On race weekend, I re-connected with other repeat Ambassadors and finally put faces and laughs with Facebook photos and Twitter handles of the newest crew. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of runner friends in New York and is one of the few runners at my office, it was so refreshing to be around people who shared in this similar passion and got excited about this crazy and emotional sport called running. The entire weekend – both the positive running karma (that’s a thing, right?) as well as the hilly miles – was the jump start I needed to kick my butt into NYCM training. And I haven’t looked back since.

Since that weekend, I’ve had a complete attitude 180 on all things running. I can’t wait for my daily runs. I proudly talk about my weekly mileage (sorry, co-workers). I’ve been so happy and entertained during all of my runs (even my 20 and 21 milers) that I now leave my headphones at home (something I never thought I would do). I’ve made a training plan and stuck to it (for the first time ever). I’ve made the goal of this training to focus on what many a fellow Ambassador has exemplified – the importance of ENJOYING running. And, of course, I’ve again started buying way too much running gear.

Now, I’m yet again a proud repeat Ambassador along with some of the folks I mentioned above (they liked us! They really liked us!) as well as some new faces for 2013. I can already tell this group is going to be just as energized and dedicated and chatty as last year’s. Maybe it’s the 15 iPhone notifications I wake up to every morning but who knows – maybe this year’s crew will inspire me to do even more with running (who’s up for training a newbie for an ultra or a tri or a trail race? I’m game!).

In short, this post is meant to be a huge THANK YOU to the amazing crew of 2012 TSFM Am-badass-adors and a warm welcome to the 2013 newcomers. This amazing running community surrounding this race has been such a motivational experience for me and one that I am eternally grateful for. While I too have enjoyed my two 13.1 mile treks around the beautiful city of San Francisco in 2011 and 2012, the most rewarding takeaway from two years of working with this race has been the friendships and encouragement and excitement for one another and the positive impact that has had on my running journey (and number of Facebook friends).

As I’m writing this I’m five days away from toeing the line at the New York City Marathon and words (and tweets, and squeals, and clapping for myself at the end of great runs) cannot begin to describe how excited I am for the 26.2 mile experience. Having just weathered a terrible storm that ripped the city apart (leaving most of it in darkness and under water), I have an extra sense of pride for running through the five boroughs and seeing a city prevail yet again in the wake of disaster. Take that, Sandy.

This is not my first marathon (it’s my third) and not my first road race in New York, but after the best and happiest 15 weeks of running of my life, I am feeling as confident and happy and excited about running as I ever have. And I have some very cool runners to thank for that.

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