Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mommy of Mine!

At last, the post you've all been waiting for!  The time has come, the time is now, the how-I-started-running story is finally here!  (It just happens to coincide with my mom's 29th birthday.)

Simply put, my sister made me do it.  She's two years older than me, and my earliest memories include her great ideas for what we should do, how we should play, and where we should adventure.  The fact that I can't recall ever not following her lead speaks volumes for the quality of her ideas, as I'm not one to let others think for me or tell me what to do.  And by "others", of course, I mean "other-than-her"s.
She probably told me to make a stupid hand motion behind her.

The longer version of the story is what you're here for, though, right?  If not, then go ahead and skip to the end.*

I didn't realize that my sis had been running until after she raced her first 5k.  (Aside- her first race time still beats my current best race time.  She's really stinking fast.)  I think she, like many new runners, felt a little weird talking about her new found love.  It doesn't make sense when you think about it logically, but I've read about it in articles and heard about it from several people and even noticed that I did the same thing- secret running.  Once I learned about her habit, I, of course, wanted to follow in her footsteps (har har).  Early in the summer of 2010, she took a break from running for a few weeks, and I had the ridiculous thought that I could catch up to her if I started then.  I went out for exactly 2 runs during those 6 weeks.  I wore pajama shorts and undertanks, and sneakers which weighed approximately 3 lbs each.  I went a mile each time, running for about 25 seconds, walking for 5 minutes, and then running for a few seconds more before I lost my breath again and let myself walk.  I got shin splints after both "workouts", which hurt for many days, and were quite discouraging.  Fast forward to late August, when we were both at a baby shower and a mutual friend, Angie, started asking Jenn about running.  Angie lives less than a mile from me, and at the time, my sister lived about 3 miles away.  The three of us decided that we would start meeting to run together early in the mornings, starting the following Monday.  Jenn would drive to Angie's, the two of them would run to my house where I would meet them outside just after 6, and then we'd all jog around the well-lit park across the street from where I live.

The following Monday arrived, and my alarm went off at 5:50, as expected.  I thought to myself, "Hah!  Like I'm going to get out of my cozy bed to go run.  Nobody really expects that of me."  A few hours later, I talked to my thoroughly annoyed sister on the phone.

"Where were you this morning?  I thought you were going to meet me and Angie outside."

"Oh, you thought I was serious about that?  I don't run, remember?"

"Sigh. Not if you stay in bed, you don't.  Jerk.  We're meeting again tomorrow.  You'd better be out there when we get to your house."

"Fine.  But I'm not going to like it."

The next day, I actually got out of bed when my alarm went off.  Brushed my teeth, put on my socks and new, Target brand, slightly-lighter sneakers, and went outside.  (Notice I didn't mention changing into running clothes.  That's because I thought it best to sleep in them, since they were also my pajamas.)  A few moments later, my sister ran up.  I leisurely sauntered down to the end of my driveway while she jogged in place, waiting for me.

"Come on!"

"What, now?  Don't I need to, like, warm up or something?"

"Yes, dummy.  Running will do that."

"Oh.  Where's Angie?"

"At the end of the other street.  She needed to catch her breath."

By the time we got to Angie, 0.1 miles away, I was gasping for air and my thighs were burning.  We decided to skip the park and just "run" back to Angie's house, as that would be plenty of exercise for us two newbies. When we made it there, (0.75 miles in ~14 mins) I had Jenn drive me back to my house.  All the blood circulating in my legs made my thighs red and itchy** and I still felt out of breath when I got out of her car and went inside for a shower.  Over the next few weeks, we got into the habit of running together nearly every morning.  We got to know the dark streets in our neighborhood, figured out that the lights in the park didn't make the surrounding woods less scary, learned to expect the meanest-sounding growl from that one dog who we all pictured to be the size of Godzilla, witnessed a car accident, and gradually, started being able to run longer distances.  I did not stop wearing my pajamas to run, and I did not even consider spending money on running shoes again, after I had just spent over $20 on the pair I was using.
When I read blog posts, I like a lot of pictures.  I think we can all be grateful that nobody took photos at any of those early-morning runs, though, and instead enjoy this picture of my little beauty.
And now, one of my famous (to those who know me well) story tangents.  I'll get back to the running story eventually, I promise.

Husband proposed to me on Christmas day, 2009, and we set 10/10/10 as our wedding date.  In February of '10, we bought a house and spent over a month fixing it up before we moved in.  Once we were settled, the wedding plans began in earnest.  I'm a pretty laid-back individual, and Husband is also easygoing.  We both wanted our wedding to be small and personal, and didn't care much about all the usual trappings of such things.  (Aside- we spent just about $5,000 on our wedding, had around 100 guests, and it was absolutely perfect for us.  Live music, flowers, cake, really truly delicious food, signature beverages, a unique and comfortable venue, a delightful candy buffet... Stay tuned for advice on inexpensive, fabulous events like that one.)  It just so happens that even mild mannered, un-bridezilla-ish women like me can get a little stressy when faced with events like house buying, remodeling, and wedding planning.
You can't tell, but the counters had pink flowers, and the insides of the cabinets were pink, too.

Best $250 ever spent?  Reglazing the tub and fixtures to white.  I cried real tears of joy when the pink was gone.
Between February and August of that year, I visited the doctor 3 separate times for 3 different, debilitating ailments, which all turned out to be caused by stress.  Since then, I've been to the doctor 3 times, and once was for a new employee drug screening.  I was taking ibuprofen 3 times a day, every day, because my back and shoulders hurt so badly from tension.  I was excited about my upcoming nuptials (that always looks like a dirty word to me), but I was not handling things well, really.  I was extra forgetful, snappish, exhausted, and probably not much fun to be around.  Then, one pre-dawn morning, my life changed forever.

(Aaaaannndddd, we're back, just like I promised.)

On September 27th, 2010, I celebrated my one-year cigarette free anniversary with my longest run to date, from my house to my sister's.  I had still been doing a lot of whining and complaining during many of our daily runs, and I still told everyone who would listen that I hated running.  It was hard.  It made me sweaty and stinky.  I gave up sleeping in.  I said the words, "I'm going to die" almost every time we hit the pavement.  But, I kept doing it.  At the time, I believed that I only did it because Jenn and Angie were expecting me to.  Now, I realize that I was already addicted, even though the need to run was still sub-conscious.  I also didn't figure out right away that I wasn't having the same physical manifestations of the stress I was under.  I just stopped taking the ibuprofen, without really wondering what had made the tension leave my back and shoulders.  I gladly started thinking straight and remembering things again, without ever considering saying "thank-you" to my sister and friend for making sure I was running all the time.
Calling oneself 'gorgeous' is probably a bad quality, right?

Every bride should be so lucky to have a Maid of Honor who makes them do a laughbend like my sister did to me.
Running kept me sane during some of the most overwhelming months of my life.  And when things calmed down, and Fiance was finally Husband, I realized that I didn't want to stop running.  The thought of not being able to run anymore, for whatever reason, became a really scary one.  It was while out for a run while honeymooning that I understood that my name wasn't the only thing that had recently changed-- I had changed.

I'm a runner.  Seeing those words on my screen makes me thankful, proud, joyful, and a little choked up.  Being a runner has also brought me into the strongest, best physical shape of my life.  I've learned that I can endure a lot, that I'm able to overcome obstacles, whether they be mental, physical, or actual things like dead animals on the sidewalk.  So, thanks, snissy, for going first and dragging me along with you.

My advice today is to take the advice of those who know you.  Even if it means getting out of your (literal) comfort zone and going outside to wait in the dark to punish your body and whip it into shape.

Easy Question:
From whom do you take advice?

Hard Question:
What has changed you?

 *It's impossible for me to type those words without then reciting in my head the wedding scene in "The Princess Bride." "Skip to the end!" Do you, Buttercup, take... "Man and Wife!  Say Man and Wife!"  Man and Wife...

**Am I the only one who has experienced this?  I've never heard anyone else complain about it.


  1. Now I'm a little misty. SO proud of you. I love that you chronicled this journey.

    (We spent $250 total on our wedding--150 guests. HA!)

  2. It was great to read your story of becoming a runner. I knew some of the pieces from plurks over the years, but I am glad to know more of the whole picture.

    Yes, I have had red, itchy thighs after exercise, but only when I had also been outside in below-freezing temperatures for a while.