What Keeps me Running

I'm sorry for another missed Saturday posting. I was trying to finish a front porch welcome sign to share as a mini tutorial yesterday, but Keith and I ran out of time and needed some hardware before we could hang it. Here's a little sneak peak though of us working on it yesterday. I promise to share the rest soon.  

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I'm posting a little later than usual as well since I was still hoping to post about the new porch sign and save a running post for Wednesday, but schedules never quite work out as planned. Next Sunday we're running our 2nd half-marathon of this year and here's the craziest part, last September we could barely run a mile. I love that we didn't start out as runners so I can encourage others it's possible for them to become runners as well. Keith played basketball and football when he was younger, and I played soccer and tennis. We could each sprint short distances but never run very far. My soccer coach used to make us train around the high school with a two-mile lap, and I hated it and walked most of it. 

So how did we become runners and get to the point where we're now running a 2nd half-marathon in one year and training for a marathon early next year? Well first of all, we had huge inspiration through a friend of mine. I've talked a little about her before but haven't gotten too much into the process and how it all started. A friend from college, Kate Voth, was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma and the treatments prevented her from doing what she loved best: running. A few other college friends then decided to start a small team that would run the Austin Half-Marathon for her earlier this year and help raise money toward tools and support for cancer survivors.   

They initially reached out to me last September and I basically told them, I can't run a mile so there is no way I can run thirteen plus. Then Keith and I decided that we needed some kind of physical activity to keep us healthy and running was an activity we could do together before work. I still remember the feeling of that first morning we downloaded a running app to see how far we could run, put on our old gym shoes and set out on a course through our neighborhood. We stopped, huffing and puffing, close to throwing up, at exactly one mile from our house. And then decided that perhaps we could build up to a 5K and run the Austin Turkey Trot for the first time ever. I'm certainly no expert on training regimes, and I've only been running a little over a year, but this is what worked for us: 

1) Build up endurance. Since we knew we could run one mile, we ran (I should clarify very slowly jogged) three times a week for two weeks in a row. And then we would fast-walk one more mile home. After two weeks, we started a combo of slow jog/walk that second mile home for the next two weeks. Essentially, we then added another mile and would repeat the process of jog/walking until after about a month and a half we could slowly jog three miles in a row. 
2) Sign up for a race. This is great encouragement to keep going when you have a bigger goal in mind then just running a little further each week. Once we actually registered for the turkey trot, we realized it was five miles (not a 5K) so we turned one of our three runs into a longer training run as friends recommended. 
3) Create a training plan. There are tons of great free training plans on several running websites and in running magazines. Also, once you start running, you'll find that tons of people you know also happen to run and many (not all) are great to get advice from on training, eating regimes, stretches, etc. We started out doing two short runs a week (2 - 2.5 miles) and then slowly would increase our one other run each week until the weekend before Thanksgiving last year, we were up to 4.5 miles. We ran 5 miles on Thanksgiving morning and were hooked. 

Then we signed up for the Austin Half-Marathon with Team Kate. At that point, we got more serious. We went to local running stores and got fitted for actual running shoes (big difference from "running shoes" you wear to the gym), started doing a lot of research on what to eat before running and during training (sweet potatoes, whole grains, almonds, peanut butter, etc), and added an additional day to our training schedule. As is typical in most training plans, we add a mile every week for three weeks in a row and then at the fourth week taper down (ex. 7 miles, 8 miles, 9 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles, 11 miles, 12 miles, 7 miles). This may seem like a lot for newbies and believe me, it was not easy, not always fun and our neighborhood has heard a lot of swear words from me. But by February 2013, we were ready for our first half-marathon and ran it in 2:08. I will never forget the huge feeling of accomplishment when we crossed that finish line. 

Mile 7 of the Austin Half-Marathon

Mile 7 of the Austin Half-Marathon

At the finish line of the Austin Half-Marathon!

At the finish line of the Austin Half-Marathon!

Even though Kate had just found out a week before that the cancer spread to her brain, she was at that finish line cheering in all 118 runners and walkers (not so small by then, huh?). If you want a reason to run, then just be inspired for all of those who need to rest for a little while and feel encouraged by others pulling on shoes you never thought you'd wear. Every single hill we struggle up, every single morning we need to get out of bed for a run but are feeling exhausted, every time I lace those shoes I think of Kate. I am so sad that we lost her a few months ago, but feel so blessed for the time we all got to know her, spend with her, learn from her and be inspired to do something as huge as this. 

I love that in the past year, Keith and I started a brand-new activity together and have become completely smitten with it. I also appreciate it even more as it's often the only time we spend together during that day. In the past year, we have run one 5-mile turkey trot, one half-marathon, one 10-mile rock & roll race, one local 10K, and countless training miles. And we'll wrap up this amazing year with one more half-marathon and a 10K turkey trot. We couldn't have gotten here without Kate's love for running inspiring us to give it a try. And I certainly couldn't have reached this goal without Keith right alongside me cheering me on, dancing while running (air punches for the win), swearing at hills, and providing small butt pats for encouragement. So find yourself a friend as crazy as you, sign up with a running group, or convince your partner to try something new this week. Sometimes you'll hate it, sometimes you'll love it, but I guarantee if you put your heart into it, you can run further than you ever thought. Take the word of a lady that couldn't run a mile at fifteen and became a runner at twenty-seven. Anything is possible. 

Schlotzky's 10K Bun Run

Schlotzky's 10K Bun Run