Monday, August 9, 2010


(Right after the 5k, Run for Gus race T-shirts.)

I have never been a runner. In seventh grade, I was on track just because every other girl in my class was doing it, and so everyone did it. Let's just say, I was not a runner. Before one of my track meets, I was on the sidelines eating a big serving of fries. I learned my lesson after that one.
When I started dating Tad, I soon learned that running was one of his big passions. He started running in highschool after a really sad event happened in his life, and the running became therapy for him. He really enjoyed it and started running longer distances, training, running marathons, and logged 1000 miles in a year when he lived in Japan. He has amazing endurance, and can pick up and run about any race if he wanted to. I have seen him run a marathon without much training.
During our dating days, Tad would want to go on runs with me. This didn't happen much, but when it did, I did not get it. I would huff and puff about 30 seconds in, be ready to quit after about a half mile, and I would look over and he would be grinning from ear to ear and talk about how much he enjoyed running with me. Not only was I not good at running and didn't enjoy running, I didn't understand how it was any fun to run with someone like me who didn't enjoy it or get it.
Over the years, I have tried to lose weight in various fashions, and from time to time would try running. I would go out and time and time again, have the same experience. It was hard. My shins would hurt. I didn't enjoy it. And I would rather do a workout video at home.
Finally, in May of this year, I started running, and started enjoying it. I think I went out by myself once or twice, and then Tad and I ran together. He pushed me. He encouraged me to go further. I built up my confidence that I could go farther. I am a goal oriented person, so to say I could run a certain distance, and to do it, gave me hope that I could do it again, and maybe next time go further. This summer I have started to understand why Tad enjoys running. I have felt my feet hit the pavement, and I get excited. I have gone farther, longer, set goals, hit goals, and exceeded my expectations. On several runs, I would set a small goal, and then realize I felt fine and could go further, so much further than I ever thought I would go.
Now, I am not a fast runner, I am sure I don't have the right technique, and I need a lot more training, but I have definitely improved. I started with 1 or 1.5 miles, got up to around 2, and then was pushing 3 miles. I have been telling myself that I want to run a 5k and that I would sign up for one. I keep putting it off and saying I'll do it later. But Tad's hotel has a 5k that they run in July, and Tad said (about 2 or 3 weeks before), I should do it. I thought how I was already close to running 3 miles, and how maybe I could push myself and realize that I was already ready to run it. It seemed scary, but I decided to do it. I began actually "training" for a race. This gave me a number, 3.1 miles, and I really wanted to run it without stopping. I didn't know if this was possible. I was doing a 5k in my training, but with a 5 minute break half way through, and walking some along the way. I don't know why, but I felt like a failure to walk any part of the race. If I was going to pay money to run the race, then I wanted to run it, and not stop.
In one of my last runs before the race, I was suppose to run the 5k all the way through. It was a hot and humid morning. Almost no shade on the lakefront path. One of the hottest runs I had done. I could not run it. I felt sick and almost passed out. I thought, "there is no way I am going to be able to run the 5k." I was bummed.
But come race day, it was cooler. It was at 630 at night, it was about 80 degrees, and it was a beautiful night. Tad and I got to the race, had someone watch the kids while we ran, and got ready to go. I was nervous. Butterflies. When I saw all the "athletes" warming up and running before the race, I thought, "I feel so dumb. I'm not at athlete. What am I doing? What if I'm last? I don't even know how to warm up correctly."
Once that horn went off to start, I ran. I ran in that pack of runners. Tad said the difference between someone who runs for exercise and someone who is a "runner" is that someone who trains for races and faster times is a runner. He said, "Today, you become a runner."
A lot of people passed me, but I knew I had to keep my slow, steady pace to make it to the end. I felt good, motivated to be running all together, the same distance with these people. I chatted with a mom who was pushing her kids in a double stroller while running the race, passed Tad going the other way (who was so much further ahead of me), and jogged through the water stations and drank my water so I wouldn't stop.
I felt good, but towards the end, it was hard. Once I saw that finish line, I started running fast. I saw Tad and the kids, and I sprinted as fast as I could. I crossed that finish line, and I guess I was a runner. I ran the 5k in 36 minutes, which isn't fast, but for me, it was success. I didn't walk. I ran the whole way.
All these things are what Tad has been doing for about 15 years. Running. Training. Goals. Races. Success. And I love being able to join him in what he has loved for a long time. To go out on family runs and plan times to go out and run on our own. To enjoy it with him instead of always going to see his races and watching from the sidelines.
(Right after 5k)
I have realized that running is so much more than losing weight, or exercise. It becomes you. You show yourself that you can do more. You learn how to do it better. You train to go faster. You learn how to not give up. How to play those mental games with yourself when you are tired, but you know you can go further. I hope to continue to run, to do it better, to train to go faster, and to not give up. I want to run a 5k faster than 36 minutes. I want to hopefully train for a 10k. And I want to keep telling myself that I can do it, instead of "it's too hard."
Running is hard, but you push through, realize you can go the distance, and crush the part of you that said, "you can't do it."
Because I can. Today, I am a runner, and I will keep going.
(Out for a family run. Looking back on the city from out by the Planetarium.)


  1. Great blog, Stephanie. Way to go! How exciting that you accomplished running your first race! And you look great.

    I totally relate to your running journey; mine has been very similar, having always hated it until recently, and finding a new sense of confidence and achievement within it. I think that I never needed like I need it now--with the craziness of little children constantly surrounding. Anyway, congrats, and I'm glad to hear you are doing well. And it's SO cool that you and Tad can finally share this interest. So cool.

  2. Way to go, Steph! I also ran my first 5K this year in Switzerland, in March, and my time was also 36 minutes. I can totally relate to those butterflies at the beginning of the race... and when the gun went off I found myself in a pack of big Germans who weren't wearing deodorant. It was lovely. Now I'm hoping to train for a 10K race that goes through three different countries. Keep us posted on your next race!