Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My first goal for my next 50

When I moved to Ithaca in August of 2006, one of the first things I noticed was how many runners there were here. I was not particularly athletic and I was also overweight. I thought I might give this running thing a try. My very first attempt was that fall – under cover of night. I didn’t want anyone to see me run.

Night 1: The sun sets. It is pitch black outside. I talk my two youngest kids into going with me. I start running down the street and the first thing that happens is I wet my pants. I go home humiliated. Remember – I have had four children.

Night 2: The sun sets. I try again – better prepared. I talk my two youngest children into running with me (they were 8 and 10 at the time). I run down the street – which is all downhill. I go about 1/8 of a mile and turn around. I now have to run uphill. As I’m huffing and puffing up the hill, my children are skipping sideways along side of me. It is also garbage night – so they run off to inspect everyone’s garbage and run back to me – chattering away. I cannot answer them.

Night 3: There is no more running.

Night 4: I take up Tai Chi.

My next attempt at running was in May of 2007 – I decided to try running a quarter of a mile on a trail by our house. It was tough! I was out of breath and I wanted to quit - but I made myself finish. I thought I’d try again the next day. After about two weeks, when I realized that it was getting easier, I decided to make a little rule: I had to add a bit of distance on to each run – or - run at least as far as I did in the previous run. By the end of the summer I found I could run almost 3 miles. When I realized I was almost running the same distance as a 5K race – and there were certainly a lot of 5K races around this town - I decided to sign up for one that September.

My first race - for the ASPCA

I was so nervous – I couldn’t sleep the night before the race! I came in third to the last – I beat the two walkers. But I finished!!!

So I tried another race a month later!

Finishing hard!

I was also turning 50 that fall and had been thinking about setting some goals for my next 50 years. I thought that if I could learn to run then maybe I could learn to swim. I started my first swimming class at the local YMCA in the fall of 2007. I just kept taking their swimming class over and over again all winter until I learned how to front crawl. Then I learned about a triathlon that the Y holds each May. I thought that if I could be comfortable with the breathing – and be able to swim 8 laps in 15 minutes – then maybe I could do the triathlon. I started practicing swimming twice a week (in addition to continuing with the swimming class) to become comfortable with the breathing and make the time requirement. I started running further so I could run the 5 miles. I knew how to ride a bike but had barely ridden on one in 20 or more years. So as soon as the winter weather subsided, I started bike riding. I ran, swam, and biked all through March and April of 2008.

On May 4th, 2008 I raced my first triathlon! I came in last – but I finished!!!

Then I started looking at what could be next. Triathlons with lake swimming. Half mile distances in lakes. I needed a lot of work to be able to swim a half of a mile in a lake. The Finger Lakes Tri was on September 21st at Canandaigua Lake. I practiced swimming all summer. I practiced biking all summer (well – not as much as I should have!). I started running longer distances. I ran 5 mile distances two mornings during the week and 5 to 9 mile distances on Sundays. This race also offered a triathlon for kids - so I signed both of my children up (ages 10 and 12 at that time).

The morning of September 21st found me in a wetsuit in Canandaigua Lake waiting for the gun. The swim was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I fought panic for about 3/4’s of the swim. But I did it – and finished last in this race too! My children had a great time too! It was so cool to have them be a part of this journey!

Coming in last place at the Finger Lakes Tri

I had the support of my husband, my children, and two of my neighbors (who have since become my very good friends) – and could not have done any of this without any of them.

My husband provided me with both emotional and motivational support from that first day I decided to try running. My children were very concerned about me running alone in the early mornings. All that summer they would get up with me no matter how early it was – and my son would run by my side while my daughter would ride her bike.

My two neighbors were the runners who inspired me to run in the first place. I couldn’t let anyone see me run in the beginning – so for a long time I wouldn’t run when these two neighbors were out running for fear of letting them see how slow I was. I did finally I overcome that fear and started running with them. These two incredible women – Brenda and Cindy - provided me with a lot of advice and support.

Brenda is a marathon runner and during her early training we ran many mornings together before the sun came up. It is because of her encouragement that I started running distances greater than 5 miles. She gave me a training program to follow and taught me how to interval train. She ran by my side for my second 5K (The Zeppy Run) when she could have easily left me in the dust. Brenda counted my swimming laps for me at the YMCA Tri and again ran by my side during the run part of it. When I got home from the race I found a gift from her on my front porch – a recovery drink and a bottle of wine!

Cindy is a runner and a swimmer. She gave me a lot of advice about how to get the hang of this breathing thing when I was learning to front crawl! She is also a registered sports dietician - and gave me nutritional advice to keep me strong and healthy and to help me maintain the endurance I needed during the races. Cindy also ran the first 5K that I ran, and helped to ease the nervousness I felt. Since I had never run a race before I did not know what to expect and she assured me I would be able to finish.
I talked Cindy into doing the YMCA triathlon too! She and I did a lot of training for that together. The YMCA was also her first triathlon – and she shared all my angst and nervousness regarding the magnitude of what we’d gotten ourselves into! On the morning of the YMCA-Tri Cindy made sure I had my sports drink, water, gel packs. Check, check, check, I said. Then she scotch-taped two red licorice twizzlers to my bike handles. I loved that – two red twizzlers! She also did the Finger Lakes Triathlon with me and her son participated in the Kids Tri with my two children.

Oh – I almost forgot! I’ve lost 30 pounds since the day I started to run! 15 more to go!

I owe my success to these two amazing women, my children, and my husband. I still think back to those first few weeks after moving here and seeing my two neighbors going out for a run…. and marvel at the chain of events that has transpired since then.

Me, Brenda, and Cindy

No comments:

Post a Comment