Ten years - that is the difference between the two pictures of race results. The one to the left is from my first half-marathon. To be honest, I did not know what I was doing. I set out to train for and run the half-marathon as a goal to help keep my grad school stress in check, get away from the books, and get some fresh air and return to what I loved to do - run. The photo on the right is from spring 2019 - almost exactly ten years later when I ran the same half-marathon - this time focused with what I once thought would be an unattainable goal - breaking the coveted two-hour mark. It took me ten years to do it, but I finally did it.
Why do I point out the time difference between the two photos? It is important to me because after running my first half-marathon I told myself that I would keep on running, and that at that point I knew that it would always be an integral part of who I am and what makes me run on a daily basis (pun totally intended). When I ran my first half-marathon, I really didn’t know what I was getting into, and thought that it was totally doable to run a consistent sub-10 minute pace and break two hours without a problem. Let’s just say I didn’t know anything about long distance running or pacing for that matter. The longest I had run previously was five miles, and I remember it being a dreadfully long distance that my high school cross-country coach made us do for LSD — Long Slow Distance. My frame of reference for pacing was constructed from my less than glorious days participating in high school track and cross county.
With each new race entry did I plan to break two hours? Heck no (at least not anymore)! As I logged more miles, I also logged more wisdom and experience that told me that this goal wasn’t going to be easy. But, after finishing that first half-marathon, I knew I was in it for the long haul - with my chicken legs, yo-yoing weight, and 5’1” frame ready to carry me forward to the next challenge.
Fast forward a decade later, eight half-marathons and two marathons, and countless 5Ks and 10Ks in between, I finally understand the draw of the distance, and why some people live for the long run. For me it’s not the anticipation of the starting line or the thrill of crossing the finish that brings me to sign up for another race, rather I now find joy in the miles shared with old friends and new training partners, the miles spent in solitude, the nod of solidarity between fellow runners, and the peace and contentment that comes with the rhythm of putting one foot in front of another.
I don’t know what my next goal will be, other than to keep on running. So that being said - here’s to ten more years.