I tried running periodically throughout my youth and adulthood. It never took. After running a block or so, I usually ended up panting and feeling like death was imminent, so I would stop to catch my breath and think, “I can’t run!” And that would be the end of my attempt at running for awhile.
As I began inching towards the age of 30, I caught the running urge again. This time was different. Every time I saw a runner I noticed their lean, muscular legs and I began to yearn for “runner’s legs.” So began my quest for those legs. This time I enlisted the help of my husband and we headed to the high school track, which was just a short walk away. We decided to start with getting in a mile on the track. I would run as far as I could and then walk and then run again repeating that until I finished the mile. This became our regular evening activity and it wasn’t long before my husband was running the entire mile. I still struggled. I expressed my frustration with my progress to him and he said simply, “Just run slower.” Suddenly a light bulb turned on for me. For some reason I had thought running had to be all out. Strangely, slowing down had never occurred to me. I employed this amazing new technique and found that I could, in fact, run farther. What a concept!
My husband also suggested I get some running shoes. Yes, long ago, I didn’t even own a pair of running shoes. I think I was running in the old school tennis shoes I used for playing volleyball. My first reaction to his suggestion was that I didn’t need running shoes. How could shoes make a difference? Running shoes were just a marketing ploy to get people to buy more shoes. Despite my hesitation, I decided that I would ask him to get me some running shoes for my upcoming birthday. This was the big one. I was turning 30. Running shoes seemed like an appropriate gift.
A few days later, I donned my birthday shoes and headed over to the track for my first run as a 30-year-old. The combination of the amazing lighter running shoes and adjusting my pace led to my first mile run. I was elated. Running shoes rock! And so began my running addiction (and perhaps my running shoe addiction!) Soon a mile just wasn’t enough. I was bored to death with the track by then and my husband had lost interest in the whole running thing, so I headed out to the streets on my own. I ran my longest run ever. I had no idea how far it was, so I immediately got in my car and drove the route I had just run. 2 whole miles! That was freaking amazing! And so it continued.
With the encouragement of a friend, I registered for my first 5K race. It was hard, but it felt like such an amazing accomplishment. Then I tried an 8K and eventually a 10K. I was hooked. I created a spreadsheet for all my races (which I still use today) and began tracking my times and focusing on PR’s. This running stuff is awesome!
Next came the relays. A running group that I hardly knew recruited me to take the place of an injured runner and I ran my first Hood to Coast. Suddenly I was a part of something bigger. I had a running group. We ran every Saturday rain or shine (and we still do.) I had become a “real runner.”
Not long after running my first half marathon I thought about my quest for runner’s legs. Did I have those lean, muscular runner’s legs I had longed for? Not quite. But, it was no longer about what my legs looked like. It was about what my legs could do. My legs had just run 13.1 miles! Mission accomplished. Somewhere along the line I had found my runner’s legs!