Did you know the first Wednesday in June is also known as National Running Day? Yeah, me neither. But Twitter told me, so I guess it’s a bona fide thing. If I had my act together, I would have written this post 24-hours earlier, giving me a chance to capitalize on the #NationalRunningDay social media chatter. But, and as my headstone should one day say, I’m always late to the party. And you know, I’m kind of bummed about being late to this party, because I do have something to say on the topic.
On Saturday, I ran my first half marathon!
Let me rephrase.
DANG, 13.1 miles! I did it!
In honor of those miles logged, here are 13.1 very (very) random thoughts about how a wannabe runner like me successfully crossed the half marathon finish line.
— 1 —
After my dad died about six years ago, running became my therapy. I even trained for and successfully ran a 20K (12.4 miles) five years ago. But after that race, I basically hung up my Brooks and stopped running regularly.
— 2 —
So I started calling myself a wannabe runner because I really did and do want to be that person who enjoys running. In theory, I see myself cheerfully rising early, lacing up my running shoes, and hitting the trails in my quaint suburb while the sun peaks over the horizon announcing the dawn of a new day.
— 3 —
In reality, I am not a morning person. I prefer to take my sweet time so I can read the daily Word and offer Morning Prayer, enjoy a few cups of coffee, lounge around in my PJs awhile, and then get after my run. That equation may have worked twenty years ago. Creating a regular running schedule and having the discipline to follow through has been my biggest challenge. If I’m going to work regular runs into my schedule, I need to get after it first thing in the morning or it won’t get done. That’s reality.
— 4 —
The gifts of time, hindsight, and a wise friend have revealed that I’ve journeyed through a spiritual depression of sorts over the past five years. In addition to my father’s death, I experienced the loss of my career (it was my choice to walk away, but it’s still a loss), leaving a parish community and losing friendships, feeling isolated and lonely in my new role as at-home mom, having a c-section and dealing with the physical recovery that followed, and then putting down several activities and ministries that brought me joy. It all added up, and given I wasn’t getting any regular exercise, the pounds added up, too.
— 5 —
I had an epiphany while watching an episode of Cheers on Netflix. I’ll save the full story for another day, but that episode helped me realize I was using food to fill the emptiness left from all those things listed in #4.
— 6 —
That epiphany set in motion a few things including better eating habits. As Whitney from 9KidFitness says, “If you want to get serious about losing weight, get serious about what you eat…then take care of the exercise piece.” Whitney calls it the Rule of 70 (70% of weight loss comes from what we eat, 30% comes from exercise). So I spent much of winter and spring working on my nutrition. I probably dropped a good 15 pounds before I even started running again.
— 7 —
Then I starting running a bit and set an aggressive goal to run a half-marathon this spring/summer. I registered for Dam to Dam, a classic road race here in Des Moines that begins at one dam and ends at another. Dam to Dam … get it? Fun fact: Dam to Dam just celebrated its 36 year, and my Uncle Larry has consecutively run for 33 of them.
— 8 —
My training started out well, and then I fizzled (see #3). Then around mid-April, I completely threw in the towel and gave up on running it.
— 9 —
Then my friend Mary reached out and basically asked, “Still looking for a running partner?” YES, I enthusiastically responded. If she hadn’t contacted me, I would be moping around right now for not meeting my goal. I needed an accountability partner, and Mary served that role. Sidebar here: Mary’s sister and brother-in-law are parishioners at the same church where my dad and mom went. My dad really enjoyed her sister’s family. I met Mary after my dad died, and I was touched when I figured out the connection between our families. So maybe my dad is helping orchestrate this all somehow.
— 10 —
The 8-week training program I used came from Fitness.com which incorporates a combination walk/run workout on Mondays and Fridays, cross training on Tuesdays, a short distance run on Wednesday, and long runs on Saturdays. Great program, but honestly, I prepared very poorly and didn’t do even 50% of that. Maybe next time!
— 11 —
It was a tremendous blessing that Joel was supportive of my goal. Even when I fizzled out on my training runs, he would still say things like, “How can I help to make sure you’re ready for Dam to Dam.” I could not have done this without his help, and I had to fight back tears during the race when he, the kids, and my mom met me at miles 6, 9, and 12 to cheer me on. Thank you, family!
— 12 —
A strategically placed drumline at mile 12 was exactly what I needed to hear at that point in the race to finish strong. I want one to follow me around the house and help keep the kids in line!
— 13 —
— 13.1 —
Lisa, it’s time to stop calling yourself a wannabe runner. You are a bone fide runner. A s-l-o-w bone fide runner, but a runner nonetheless. Now go set another goal and get after it!