March 24, 2010

Our Marathon Blogger: Slow & Steady…With Walk Breaks

Last weekend called for a 21-mile run on the first day of Spring. Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, I headed out with my friend Gail to start my run at Torrey Pines. The day was picturesque, and I soaked in every minute of a 4 hour and 20 minute run. The people who know me now are not surprised that I spent a good portion of my Sunday running outside, but I’ll let you in on a little secret…several years ago I couldn’t run for 5 minutes, let alone 260 minutes. So how did I do it?

It started with running just a single mile. I told myself that I didn’t have to run the entire time, I only had to make it a mile. So I jogged (very) slowly and took walk breaks every 2 minutes until I reached my goal. I’m not sure how long it took me, but that’s not important because distance, not time, was my goal. I wanted to cover one mile, and that’s what I did.

Many people think they won’t like running because they have a preconceived notion that it’s all about going fast and running the entire time with no breaks. I once felt the same way. I hated running because I had flat feet that slowed me down, and I hated the burn in my throat and throbbing in my head when I ran too fast. As with anything in life, you have to figure out what works for you. Running fast didn’t work for me. Turns out I’m really good at running slowly and taking short walk breaks along the way. After I knew I could do a mile, I added half of a mile to my distance every week, still running slowly and taking those walk breaks. Once I reached 6 miles, my next goal was to run a half-marathon.

When that day came, I stood at the starting line and looked around. It was one of the most motivating sights I have ever taken in. I saw old runners, young runners, overweight runners. I saw runners with just one leg, runners with no legs—only prosthetics, and I saw blind runners. We were all in it together, and our common goal of finishing this race had connected us all.

I’m not going to lie: That half marathon was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. But I did it, and believe it or not, the very next day I registered for a full marathon.

I treated it the same way I had treated that first mile and every mile since. I added mileage each week, still taking walk breaks. On May 25, 2009, I ran all 26.2 miles of the San Diego Rock N’ Roll Marathon, and I loved every minute of it. I knew then that I was hooked on marathons, but I needed a new goal, a new challenge.

Two months later, I found it. Deeply inspired after meeting Chris Megison and visiting Solutions for Change, I returned to my old list of goals and dreams. I realized that I could combine my love of running and my desire to help others by dedicating my next marathon to raising money in support of Solutions for Change.

When I run the Big Sur Marathon next month, each mile will mean more to me than any mile I have run before. The generosity that my friends, family, and the Solutions staff have put towards my fundraising efforts has been exceptional. If you’re interested, there’s still time left to donate. Check out my fundraising page here

Until next time,


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