It’s true, life is better when you’re running. Whether it’s a treadmill or you’re out hitting the pavement, running is a type of therapy for people – you have time to reflect, to clear your mind, to just zone out and forget about everything, or it can be a great way to get rid of any anger or frustration. No matter what your reason is, we can all agree that it’s a good way to escape reality. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons I still love running to this day, but I didn’t always feel that way…
I started running in high school, not competitively on the track team or anything, but just as a side hobby for myself. I think I started so late in life because I honestly used to hate running on its own. Sure I used to run drills in soccer and volleyball, but plain ole running felt like it didn’t have a purpose or an end goal. Like I get why I have to run down the field in a game, but running around a track or long distance just seemed silly.
At that time my brother-in-law was just getting back into running and signed up for all these big races. He was just so excited to talk about them and you could tell running just made him happy and feel good.
I went to a couple races with my sister to cheer him on and was amazed at all the crowds of people and all of the runners for that matter. I remember seeing people cross the finish line and break down into tears because they were just so overwhelmed with emotion. I didn’t understand why at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense. These races mean more than just crossing a finish line, they represent months or even years of hard work and dedication. They signify strength, determination, and extreme endurance. They strip away any doubt, whether it was coming from someone else or yourself. And it’s a true testament that you can do anything you put your mind to. It turns out there actual is a purpose for running after all, and I wanted in!
Even when I started running, I never thought I would be at one of those long distance races. Hell, running a mile was tough for a newbie like me! But I still wanted to have that “finish line feeling” so I set my sights on a small race – the Shamrock Run, a 4-mile route through Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, NY. I started training by running on the treadmill at school and doing incline intervals – again, tough for a newbie! I worked on my endurance and started running for longer periods of time instead of alternating walking/jogging when I got tired. It was hard, but it felt really good to push myself and test my limits to see if this is something I could actually do.
Race day rolled around and I was a ball of nerves. There were all of these elite runners doing practice miles before the race started (yes, even for a fun run like this) and here I was saving every ounce of energy for the real deal. I pushed all those nerves aside and tried to enjoy the moment, after all, I was running MY FIRST RACE. Having my own bib number made me feel legit, but my thin leggings in 30 degree temps, annoying bouncing necklaces, and lack of an armband for my phone made me realize I still had a lot to learn! I still had a blast though and was able to finish the race with a 10 (ish) min mile pace.
This race was so important not only because it was my first, but because it showed me that hard work pays off in the end and that I really can do anything I put my mind to. (Plus I got to run with my brother-in-law so it was a win-win!)
After that, I caught the running bug 😉 I immediately signed up for a 5K and roped in my friend, Jess to do it with me. Back in 2013, these Color Me Rad rans were on the rage! Everyone was doing them. I think they were so popular because you didn’t sign up just to run, you signed up for an experience…and that’s definitely what we got! Yes, we paid money to ruin our clothes and have people throw colored powder at us, and yes, I enjoyed every single second of it.
Fast forward to March 2014 and me and Jess were back it with the Shamrock Run. It was Jess’ first, my second and we both just wanted to have fun with it. We crushed the course and then crushed some Shamrock Shakes after we were done. And in case you were wondering, I learned my lesson from the year before and wore different leggings.
I took some time off from running in 2015, but I did squeeze a couple races in! I ran the Corporate Challenge with Wegmans (went to run, but stayed for all the food #perks), and the Teddi Trot 5K to support Camp Good Days and Special Times. I was just getting back into the swing of things from a knee injury so I had no idea how this race was going to go. The course was through the back woods of my college and it was muddy as hell! My time was horrible, but I finished and that was good enough for me at that point. I had my momma there to cheer me on since the race was during Parents Weekend, but I think she had more fun hanging with all the mascots…
Fast forward a few months and I had my first race of 2016: the Shamrock Run. This time I did it solo and it suckeddddd. It was absolutely FREEZING that day, but luckily I learned a few things from my first one and was prepared with thicker leggings, a thermal top, gloves, and an armband for my phone. I had to wear my brace throughout the whole course because my knee was acting up and it definitely slowed me down a bit, but I was still able to jog across the finish line.
If you couldn’t tell, the weather in Syracuse was absolute shit that year because just a month later I ran my first Half Marathon in a BLIZZARD. The weather was nice, felt like spring, and then BOOM, the morning of the race we got hit with snow, sleet, and ice. The distance of the race was hard enough without all those weather conditions thrown in!
I was so excited to run this because the course was right through the neighborhoods I grew up in. My boyfriend was running it with me and I couldn’t wait to point out certain spots on the route; it would have been like a trip down memory lane but it turned into a trip to hell. I feel like I can’t even fully describe how bad the weather was, you really just had to be there — 9.4 degree windchill, 6.6″ snowfall, 44mph wind gusts, zero visibility.
I would sweat and then my clothes would freeze in those areas; there were parts of the road where it was just all ice and I watched people go down left and right; it started to rain and then that turned into hail, and eventually snow; I couldn’t even see the people in front of me at one point; and my shoes were completely waterlogged! When we finally crossed the finish line, we were absolutely drained. Although the sun came out towards the end, we still had “icicles” on our eyelashes, my boyfriend had a frozen beard, and my hair was stiff as can be. It also didn’t help that I was wearing a cotton pullover with a cotton shirt underneath, cropped leggings, and regular ankle socks. Oops! I seriously think I had a mild case of hypothermia by the time I got home. But honestly, I wouldn’t expect anything less from this city hahaha! Looking back on it, the weather made the race that much more rewarding.
To redeem myself from those frozen miles, I signed up for another Half in 2017 with my brother-in-law. The Empire State Half was also in Syracuse, but the course ran across Onondaga Lake instead of through the city. It was a really nice route and an even nicer day (I’m talking close to 70 degrees), so the thermal long sleeve shirt I wore wasn’t really going to fly. I thought I was going to pass out in mile 2 from the heat! Luckily, my brother-in-law was wearing a shirt under his zip-up, so we went over to the side of the road and did a quick change.
I was struggling hard this race because I was just getting back into running from knee & lower back injuries and I didn’t get much sleep the night before (anddd I might have had a couple drinks too). It was Alumni Weekend at my college so of course I had to have a few beers at the football tailgate! I was the DD that night when we went out, but I think the 2-3 hrs of sleep is what did me in on race day. My feet felt like they had 15 pound weights on them and my legs just did not want to move. Luckily I had the best running partner that day and he dragged my ass to the finish line. Pretty sure the last mile was him just giving me a “Shia LaBeouf-inspired” pep talk, but I loved it and it was just what I needed to push through.
That brings us to 2018 where I’m running my first 26.2 and it just so happen to be the mother of all marathons: BOSTON! Training for this race has been a battle – physically and mentally. Trying to keep up with the mileage, but also trying to remain injury-free is very frustrating, time consuming, and painful at times. Add in the mental 1-on-1 war you enter against yourself and you can see why marathon training is so difficult and often described as a life-changing experience.
That experience will be even more rewarding for me at the end because I’m also running the marathon to raise money for the ALS Association. That component alone has been life-changing and I am so incredibly grateful that I have been given this opportunity to help those who can’t help themselves.
A little over a month left until race day and I still have a couple big mile runs to get in & some fundraising to finish. Excited to give it my all and make this one my best race yet!
Check out my Crowdrise page to donate to my campaign & support the ALS Association: http://bit.ly/BostonBeginnings262