The Birth of a Runner

First marathon. Richmond 2014. With Sarah.

It’s been said that one of the most natural inclinations of humans is to run.

Well, I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, I was one of those “if nothing is chasing me, it’s crazy to run” kind of folks. Seriously. I was a gymnast in my pre-teen and teen years. I only really ran during conditioning and to build speed to propel myself into the air. I was the kid who came up with every excuse in the book to get out of running the mile in gym class. That was me.

I’ve mentioned that in my path to wellness, I became bored with the gym. At this point, I started trying the group exercise classes. I was a big fan of the evening yoga class at the YMCA. Zumba, not so much. I’m really not coordinated enough for that!

So, why running? I was lured by that flyer for the Ashland Harvest Run in the lobby of the YMCA. I signed up for the 5k, because running 3.1 miles, although scary at the time, seemed doable. I trained myself, running/walking in self-guided intervals until I could run 1 mile, then 2 miles without stopping to walk. Until the race, I’d never run farther than that.

Running a set distance gave me a true goal to work toward. That’s a much different and much more satisfying goal than any number on a scale. You can break it down into pieces. It makes it achievable.

Race day, I was so nervous. Seriously… how could I ever think I could run that far?! However, once the race started, the nerves settled, and I promised not to beat myself up for walking some of the race. I was pleased with my results, finishing in about 35 minutes. What I loved was the RACE! Even though it was a small event, there was a fair amount of crowd support, and it was fun! And what a sense of accomplishment when I was done!

So peer pressure ensued, and a friend of mine convinced me to join the Sports Backers YMCA training team for one of Richmond’s most popular races, the Ukrop’s Monument 10k. I thought she was crazy believing that I could run that far. I mean, that was TWICE as far as the 5k! What was I thinking? She also convinced me to try the intermediate team, which I also thought was nuts.

So there I was, one extremely frigid day in January 2013, standing in a room at the YMCA with fellow runners, thinking that I didn’t deserve to run with the intermediate team. I met one of my best friends that day. Patty convinced me that I was in the right place after our 2 mile run.

With Patty after a run in Ashland

I developed some issues during 10k training that led me to see a sports medicine doctor to rule out a stress fracture in my right foot. Thankfully, it was only tendonitis, and I ended up being able to run/walk the 10k in March. That experience led me to Lucky Road Run Shop, which I found through their very convincing Facebook campaign. I messaged the store about my foot pain, and the owner, Jeff Van Horn, messaged back, and I ended up seeing him for shoes. Real running shoes. And then I felt like I was really a runner.

Fast forward to the fall, and Patty was trying to talk me into training for the Richmond Marathon. My almost injury scared me enough that I signed up for the Sports Backers 8k training team. I’m really glad I did, because not only was the great Taminator Harrison our coach, but I also met some of my best friends through that team.

My “sole sisters”: Tonya, Laura, Sarah, Patty, me, Denice at the Monument 10k, 2018

Slowly, we have grown our core group of sole sisters. They are the reason I keep running. That, and the medals… and the runner’s high… and the amazing Richmond running community… and the exhaustion and relief I feel after completing double digit runs week after week during marathon training season. You can work out a lot of problems when you run that far. There’s nothing quite like finishing a marathon, though. Not even close. I cry every time when I cross the finish line.

After the Richmond Marathon, 2018

Trust me. If this non-runner can become not just a runner, but a multiple marathon finisher, so can you.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

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