Join me as I travel around the country to fulfill my goal of running a marathon or half marathon in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The First Steps

From what I can remember, I’ve always been involved with a team sport. In fact, in middle school I literally played every sport available: volleyball, basketball, soccer, and track. Throughout my teenage years I played high school, rec league, and AAU basketball. I picked up rowing at the University of Tampa, after a flyer advertising a chance to walk-on to an NCAA Division II team without needing experience, caught my eye. During my last year of college I traded in the grueling 6 am crew practices to focus on my studies so that I could graduate a year early (ok, ok, and party a little more), but I had no idea what kind of team-sport withdrawal I was about to encounter. I tried to stay in shape by going to the gym, but I was lacking motivation and missing my teammates.

What I needed was someone to keep me accountable, a goal to reach towards, and a community to do it with. Thankfully for me, and my expanding waist line (due to unlimited ice cream in the cafeteria), the solution to my problem came from my best friend and college roommate, Erin. With twin sisters in collegiate track, and a mom who ran marathons, Erin was a perfect running partner. A natural runner herself, she slowed her pace for me as we went out for our first run. I was unsure about running, as it certainly hasn’t come easily to me in years past. I can vividly remember being moments away from puking my guts out during suicide drills at high school basketball practice, praying that it wouldn’t be me who forced our team to run once more because I couldn’t cross the line in time.

I tried to tell myself that this would be different: I could go however slow I wanted as long as I just kept going. We were also in the perfect location: a flat and scenic route along bayshore in Tampa, Florida that regularly had cool breezes and friendly people on the bike path. Although running may not sound like a team sport that would satisfy my need to be a member of an athletic group, I was about to discover the energy and camaraderie of the running community. At 20 years old we signed up for our first half marathon mainly because the starting line was about a half mile from our dorm, and well, the free shirt, food, and medal didn’t sound too bad either.

I remeber thinking that I was going to be literally the last person to cross the finish line. I had no idea that most people who did races were average every-day folks like me with a few elites thrown in there. Turns out that the running community is basicaly the most wonderful, supportive, and empowering group of people I've ever met. After that first race, I was hooked.

No comments: