Have I always been a runner?
Like most kids, my parents let me sign up for some local sports teams and it just so happened that we lived down the street from soccer fields. This is where it all began. I started playing soccer when I was 6 years old and I played it for the next 11 years of my life, so I suppose you could say that I’ve always been pretty active. But being active and being an avid runner is a whole different story….
Running: Yes, soccer players run… but only to chase down a ball – or when our coaches wanted to punish us. I hated/despised/loathed running. This might be partially because I was the slowest kid on the team (no lie). I hit puberty at a freakishly young age (4th grade anyone?) so while most girls were still running around in the little girl bodies they were used to, I was trying to figure out how in the world to run with these new hips and boobs I suddenly had. Not fun. I struggled through any and all running that was required of me.
Leading into high school, I knew I would have to run all summer in order to make the soccer team – so I started running… I remember one day I ran for what I felt like was forever – I was so excited to have my mom drive my route and tell me how many miles I had run (remember the days before GPS?) – it definitely had to be like 5 miles. Fail. It was 1.5. Not even the 2 miles we were required to run for try-outs. Ugh.
Flash forward 3 years: I got burnt out on soccer, but knew I had to do something to make up for not having soccer practice anymore. I did what a lot of people do. I ran. And one day I just happened to be running at the same time as my school’s cross-country team… and the coach asked me to join the team. Hell no. Did this woman realize how much running sucked? There was no way I was joining a team that just ran around everyday. But she kept asking me & my friends to join… and eventually we caved. Okay fine, we’ll jog together after school and blow this off. Then something funny happened… I started to become a fairly decent runner. I suppose running 6 days a week will do that. Running with a team made running… dare I say… fun!? Now, by no means was I the best on my team. But as my times dropped, my confidence just kept getting the boost it needed. Eventually, I worked my way up to 10 miles/day. 10. This was huge! I was hooked. Fastest 5K of my high school career – 23:06 (7:27 pace)
I was so hooked, in fact, that I voluntarily signed up for the track team that spring. (It may have helped that my
boyfriend at the time was a track star…) but nonetheless, I voluntarily signed myself up to run. For me, track wasn’t nearly as fun as cross country (you run in circles… on a track…) but I was forced to do a lot more speed-work, which ultimately made me an even stronger runner. Win. Fastest Mile of my high school career – 6:10
Flash forward to college: I was so hooked on running from high school that I joined Penn State’s club XC team. I figured
I could continue running, meet friends, and have that team bonding experience I wanted. I had fun for a while and met a couple of new friends… but it just wasn’t the same. A lot of the runners were insanely fast and I was too intimidated to keep with it. This is when I started focusing on swimming (Stay tuned for How I Became a Swimmer)Even though my main collegiate focus was swimming, I
always continued to run every so often since it was so easy to just lace up my shoes and head out the door… but in 2010, I was feeling crazy and signed up for my first half-marathon with a bunch of my friends. I ran the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon in May 2010 and it was the most amazing experience of my life. It was official, I was a runner. First Half-Marathon time – 1:58:13 (9:02 pace)
Present day: I run about 3-4 days a week and I’m constantly trying to push myself for some new PR’s and challenges. I’ll keep you posted on all of my upcoming races – and eventually my first Marathon 🙂