I am a Runner

Today, I’m sharing a small glimpse of my journey with running, how I got started and where it has taken
me over the years. I thought it was important to share this part of my story before diving
into my relationship with running and my health. And as you might notice -
I’m introducing you to my husband known on here as “E.” (Shh…don’t tell him though.)

Running Journey with Autoimmune Disease

The Start

My now husband - E, who at the time was my boyfriend actually was the one who inspired me to get into running. He was starting out in the Army and I was learning along the way. He was telling me about their PT test and the competitive side of me said “I can do that too.” This was back in 2007. With my SanDisk MP3 player on my side, I started running it out on the treadmill getting closer and closer to my 2 mile goal. And that’s when I started to fall in love with running to the beat of the music and escaping from the day. It was then that I became a runner- well a mediocre one.

Then in 2009, I decided to ordered the book The Runner’s Book of Secrets and started to get a little more serious. I truly only remembered the name of that book because I looked it up on my Amazon history. But I do remember referencing it often so it must have been good. What else do I remember? Spending the summer at my parent’s house between college semesters, while E was deployed and spending my runs with my childhood dog, Boomer. He was a great running partner and always tried hard to run faster than I did. One of the biggest things I noticed was how when I cheered myself along how much better I felt. Even on those days, when I didn’t want to push and felt like stopping - yelling and cheering was what I did and it made me so proud. It was something I did automatically when running, something that came naturally.

In 2010, it was the year we got married and honestly, my body felt a little tired of working out but this was back in the days of crushing Insanity videos in the basement of our townhouse - feeling like I was jumping around like a fool. On the nice warm days, I would run along the river walkway in the small Pennsylvania college town we used to live in. I tried out trail running here and there and disliked it very much. It was mainly E’s thing. I ran extra slow trying not to stumble over rocks and exposed roots. I wasn’t too graceful at the time.

The first race

2013 came and it was coming into spring. We had moved again at the end of the 2011 and now in a new location I was going to run my first 5 mile trail race. Over the last three years, I slowly tried it more and more and still didn’t love it. I was sort of picky of the trails I’d go on. Trails that were mostly rock gardens - no thanks! Naturally groomed trails with decomposed dirt under my feet - much better! If you are from Pennsylvania you know how April whether is - freezing and rainy! So why did I decide to run my first trail race? Mostly because E challenged me and told me I wouldn’t. (I was WAY more stubborn at that time.) I kept it a secret that I actually signed up and planned on sending him a photo the day of the race since he was away. I bought a cheap Timex watch at Walmart with a timer and started training. We lived in a town with a lot of hills and I’d practice running up and down them. This time around I didn’t have a certain amount of miles to meet every week, I just tried to run as often as possible and as many hills as I could. To build confidence, I did a few practice runs on the course to get myself familiar. I ended up spilling the beans early to him and he was equally proud of me when I scored third place in my age group with a time of 53:20. >>> Coming soon full story of my first race.

The first marathon

As 2013 came to an end, we found ourselves in another new location - this time an entirely new state - North Carolina. Within a few months, I joined a local running club and again my running journey went up another level. Working out now was focused around how I could strengthen my running game. And although, I’m not an extrovert in any way, I enjoyed the company of the club and it is one of the things I miss the most about living there. While there I decided I was going to run my first marathon and this time around I was very regimented. E upgraded my Timex and bought me my first Garmin GPS watch and ID running bands in my favorite colors. On Monday nights, I’d do sprint workouts with the club and was proud of myself that I was the girl that could keep up pretty well with the guys. I managed to get my mile time under 8 minutes and could hold it there pretty well after consecutive miles. I was ecstatic and everything evolved around running - my workouts, weekly hot yoga classes, sports massages, and what I ate. I squeezed in foam rolling and hip flexor exercises while watching TV and running 5 miles at a time became my normal. I tracked my workouts, my miles, and my health religiously.

Late spring of 2014, I ran my first marathon with my goal being to run the entire time and keeping it around 10 minute miles! And I did in 4 hours and 30 minutes and E was at the finish line cheering me on.

When life happens heavy

In the fall of 2014, my life took a turn with a lot of big changes. I was now teaching full time in a first grade classroom and E had recently broken his ankle which dramatically impacted his career. Most of the weekends were spent doing way too much paperwork and lesson preparation. And one thing I wish I would have done differently - not let school take over my life. I bailed on hanging out with friends and missed spending quality time with my husband. I no longer participated in the running club. I started to beat myself up about it but couldn’t figure out how to fit it all in - life, health, career, marriage and eating well. Occasionally, I would squeeze in a run here or there but my body was tired. I’d try to force myself to get up extra early and work out before the day got started but I was simply stretching myself too far. Sometimes we would go on a trail run at a near by state park just to get away from it all.

The following year was more of the same except we did improve on a few things. I cut back on how much I worked at home and for the first couple of months we dedicated some time every weekend to spending in quiet just the three of us - me, E, and Jag. Often times including relaxing by the lake, while the adults drank coffee and Jag fetched his ball. Life was still a lot to take in most of the time though. And by the winter/spring of 2016, I experienced a relapse in my health.

So did I continue to run? Around that time, I started to work with a functional doctor and he told me that I should not be running for my health. A hard to pill to swallow and I took it quite literally with him explaining that the stress from running was impacting my health in a negative way. So desperate to heal I completely stopped running.

>>> Coming soon. Breaking out of that mindset and building a running foundation again.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please comment below and share how it helped you. I’d love to hear so that we can build a community here and I can support you better.