Today is a special day for me. I am celebrating my first Runniversary!
July 1, 2013 was the beginning of my running journey. It’s now been one year and – wow! It’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when I was not running. Last year at this time I was signing up for a Color Run and begrudgingly going to the treadmill trying to at least get in shape; now, I’m training my body run 26.2 miles.
In the past year, I have raced seven 5Ks, going from a personal best of 29:31 to 25:07; two 10Ks (personal best 53:08), placing in the top 10 of my age group both times; and 2 half marathons, both sub-2:00 with a personal best of 1:56:00. I have a distance PR of 14 miles. I’ve gotten myself into what is probably the best shape of my life and acquired a new appreciation of hard work, discipline, and self-confidence.
It’s a lot of accomplishments in one year! Typing up that list shows me how my hard work and dedication have paid off. I’m very proud of myself for setting and achieving so many awesome goals. But I firmly believe that the best is yet to come.
Miles to go…
The first year of anything is going to be nothing but growth, because there is nowhere to go but up. So it will be hard to top all of this growth in my second year of running, but I’m up for the challenge, and I have even bigger goals.
Make it or break it
What I want most is to break 1:50 in the half marathon. Listen, running a sub-2:00 half marathon is no small feat. It’s really hard, actually, and I’m very proud that I did it as a brand new runner. But I think it’s time to push myself harder, because after my last half marathon all I can think is, I know I can do better than this. I really want to achieve this goal at the Madison Mini Marathon in August, but I won’t know until after more training whether or not that is realistic. I also want to get my 5K PR under 25:00, and I would really like to break 50:00 in at least one of the 10Ks I plan to run this winter.
A more general goal I have is that I really want to get faster. Maybe that’s obvious from my time goals, but I feel like it bears repeating. I would really like to get to the point where I am running tempo runs and 5/10K races in the 7:15-7:45 pace range. Now that I’m no longer a beginner, I’m starting to get to that plateau point in my training where I’m working just as hard but not seeing improvement in my paces. Over the past year, I’ve seen my moderate/easy pace go from the 10s, to the 9s, and finally into the mid to high 8s and low 9s – and now it’s been stuck there. I want to be faster. I have running friends, female, who run races – even half marathons – in the 7:00 pace range. I want to be there, too. I dream of one day running a half marathon in under 1:40.
26.2 or bust, baby
But perhaps the biggest goal of all for my 2nd year of running is to complete my first marathon, which I am already starting my 3rd week of training for. And if I don’t totally hate my life afterwards, by this time next year I’d actually like to have run two marathons – one in the fall and one in Spring of 2015.
The Long Jump
I debated whether to make this into an announcement because it still depends on how my first marathon goes, but I’ve decided that if all goes well in October and I think I can handle more marathons, my long term goal is to qualify for Boston in the next 5 years. That’s right – when the clock strikes midnight at the beginning of a new decade, I want the hand that raises my champagne glass to belong to a Boston Qualifier. This is a tall order and will take a lot of hard work, but if my first marathon goes well I’d say that this is very doable in 5 years! I think I can I think I can I think I can…
But my last – and arguably most important – goal is a more holistic.
I have the stats and milestones to show how much I’ve grown as a runner…on paper.
But it’s become obvious that I still have a lot of mental and emotional growing to do. By this time next year, I want to look back and see that I have grown into a runner who is more easygoing and less rigid, more open-hearted and less competitive.
The runner I’m becoming is not in line with the person I strive to be or the mission of this blog. I feel like so much of the joy, the exhilaration, the healthfulness of running is being sapped by a growing preoccupation with numbers and paces, the desire to beat other people’s times, and the rigid view of every run as a means to an end that is only as good as the numbers my watch shows me when it’s over. I want to graduate from this state of mind and evolve into someone who goes into every run first feeling fortunate to be able to do this sport that brings me happiness and health and the chance for accomplishment, happy to be a part of the running community and to be out here on this beautiful day getting exercise and fresh air, no matter what average pace I end up with. Running isn’t a means to an end. It is the end.
There are people I know who encourage other runners who aren’t as good and who are better than they are. My wish for myself is that I can evolve to that same level of sportsmanship they possess. These runners have figured out something that even some of the fastest racers haven’t: at the end of the day, a finish time is just a number. My PR doesn’t mean anything to anyone but me. No one cares what my pace was on my last tempo run. But my attitude, my spirit, my encouragement and love of other runners is what will help me connect and unite with others and make the running community a better place.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with some of the words I posted on Facebook when I shared this post. Happy trails, everyone.
Many of you all are runners yourselves. Some of you are fast, some aren’t. I have some friends whose farthest race distance is a 5K and some who have finished 100-mile races. Some of you happily and leisurely do races just for the sheer experience, some of you are ball-busting Boston Qualifiers, and still some of you never pin on a race bib. Yet all of you have been so supportive and encouraging of me, and of each other. I think that speaks to the power of this sport and how running really is more than the sum of its mileage logs and finishing times.