Recently, I had an opportunity to write about my running journey. Many of the questions were similar to what some of you have asked me in the past, so I decided to share them here.
Age at which you started running:
Officially, at age 34. I first attempted to run in high school, but suffered with undiagnosed, untreated asthma. Not surprisingly, it hurt to run so I stopped. As an adult, with an official asthma diagnosis and proper meds, plus the help of a nutritionist, I ran my first race ever…the 2008 Portland Marathon! Go big or go home!
Reason you started running in four sentences or less:
I started running because I was told by a doctor that because of my asthma I couldn’t run, and like advice that I heed from my mother, I challenged it; I wouldn’t settle for less than what I believed in my heart that I could do. I ran because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone (and my head) and open myself to new experiences enabling myself to conquer illogical thoughts and fears that I was harboring. I started running because I knew people who were struggling through bigger obstacles than me, and I wanted to be an inspiration for them.
Number and distance of races you ran in 2014:
(5) Half-marathons (One of which was -6 degrees at race start and another I ran too soon after having a lumpectomy. I do not recommended either choice!)
(1) 10K (trail race)
(1) 5 Miler
(1) Olympic Triathlon (I was the run leg of our team)
(2) 1 mile Kids races (My boys ran with me as my support crew.)
A bit about your running journey in 400 words or less:
My running journey began in 2008 when I persevered through 7 hours of rain and 26.2 miles of the Portland Marathon, all while being passed on the final stretch to the finish line by a hunched-over, blue-haired, lady speed-walking with a cane.
In 2009, I scaled down to “run” my first half-marathon (second race ever) and finished in just under 3 hours. I trained at night when my son was asleep by jogging around our horse pasture logging “manure miles” towards my training goal.
In 2010, I rallied 32 friends creating a team of “Sole Sisters” who traveled 7 hours to run a half marathon with me. In 2011 with a few more races under my belt, juggling a full-time job, and after giving birth to my second son, I needed a stronger purpose to run so I signed up for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Race Team for the Rock n’ Roll Phoenix Half Marathon. January 15, 2012 marks the first time I EVER ran an entire race without stopping or walking! From there it was game on; I’d caught the running bug!
In the spirit of continuing to make a difference and run with a purpose bigger than myself, I volunteered for the WISER Sister Study through the University of Pennsylvania. This 7-month exercise study required me to run five hours a week. What’s the best way to rack up those hours? Run races! And I did. In 2012, I completed eight half marathons in six different states; one I wore a full-body sock monkey costume and another I wore a sparkle skirt with “Bad Ass” socks while cheering on my sister and two friends who completed their first race! I also ran four other shorter-distance races; one of which I won 2nd in my age division while pushing my son in the stroller! I tend to take multi-tasking seriously.
The 2012 Missoula Marathon brought me my sub-2:30 PR dream come true and I returned last year to rock a 2:21 PR finish!
In 2013, I ran my 2nd full marathon in 5:52:52 and crossed the finish line with my 6-year-old holding my hand!
Now, I’m headed to meet my sister in New Orleans this weekend to run my 20th half marathon (her 3rd-- we have run all three together). Wish us luck!
Where do you Find Your Strong when it comes to running?
My STRONG comes from my fiery Italian roots and my parents instilling in me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. My STRONG comes from the proud and excited look in my children’s eyes when I bring home my race medals and tell them that I didn’t win the race, but won because I finished what I started. My STRONG comes from dedicating every race I run to someone; sometimes that dedication is made public, sometimes it is not, and one day I will dedicate a race to me. My STRONG comes from inspiration from others and my hope that I can then inspire to help others Find Their STRONG!
Your running goals, in brief, for 2015:
For 2015 I will:
1. Beat my 2:20 half-marathon PR (I’ve already signed up for four half-marathons in three different states).
2. Qualify for a second seed start in Bloomsday 12K and beat my 1:17 PR.
3. Run over 500 miles.
4. Run at least three races with my boys.
5. Volunteer at three or more races/events with my boys to teach them the benefits of giving back.
6. Inspire ten people to run a race with me this year, hopefully help some, if not all of them, conquer their first race!
7. Step out of my comfort zone whenever a new challenge faces me and conquer it!
Answering these questions helped me to find my inner "why" again. It helped me to refocus on what my bigger goals are. What are your goals for this year? What is your "why?"