One thing I have not written about a lot on my blog is my running. In February 2013, I decided I needed to add exercise back to my daily life. For most of my adult life, I have exercised regularly in one way or another. During 2008 to 2011, I was a caregiver for several family members. Each of them needed end of life care, and I was honored to care for them in their last days. I let my health and exercise take a back seat to their needs and the needs of my family. I gained weight. My blood pressure went up. I did not have a lot of energy. I decided to start running. I used an App on my phone called Couch to 5K (C25K) to help me train. I asked my children to participate with me. We started off with running and walking three days a week. I found a local 5K race in late March.
I did not enjoy those early days of running. It was hard. I was out of shape. I had to deal with allergies and asthma. It took longer than the App called allowed for me to actually run a whole mile without stopping to walk and breathe. I told myself and my children that setting a goal and finishing the distance I wanted to cover was what was important. If I had to walk to finish the distance, that was OK. I just kept at my training. I slowly added a fourth day per week to my training schedule. I completed my first 5K within six weeks of starting my training. It was a tough, hilly course. After that race, I felt like I was never going to be able to run a complete 5K.
I kept on training. I signed up for my 2nd 5K. I gave myself two months to increase my speed and endurance. Five of my six children signed up to run a 1 mile fun run on the same night as my 5K. This 5K race also had a built-in group training program. Once a week, we met at a designated location and ran together. This gave me the motivation to keep up with my training. I had to run 3 other times during the week in between the group training sessions. Our group had all kinds of people with different running abilities. We alternated running with walking on a set schedule. This allowed us to slowly increase how much time we were running and helped decrease the amount of time we were walking. By the time the 5K race date rolled around, I was still not running a full mile without walking. I was able to complete the 5K distance with walking and running, and I was happy with that. The night of the race, my children did their fun run first, and then, the 5K started. I did better than the race two months previous, and I just alternated running with walking as needed. It was a huge field of runners and walkers, so I just found a pace I could handle and tried to keep my pace as even as possible. I finished the race in less time than my previous race, and that was really my only goal. At this point, I had been training for 4 months, and it was now summer.
I continued training throughout the summer, and I signed up for a 10K (6.2 miles) in August. I trained in a lot of heat and humidity. I started following some of the bigger running pages on Facebook. I used a free online training plan from Hal Higdon to train for the 10K. I wanted to be able to run the whole race and not walk any of it. That was an ambitious goal to double my distance and add in longer endurance. I trained on flat surfaces, and I trained on hills. When race day rolled around, I felt ready even though I had just started running a mile without walking. I determined in my mind I was going to run as long as possible for the race. There were fewer runners in this race than my previous race, and we were running largely on a Greenway trail. There were some hills on the course, but I was accustomed to hills in my training. I started running, and I found a pace where I could run and breathe and relax. I was able to keep my pace and completed the full 6.2 miles running. I did not walk at all. I felt so good about being able to run that distance. I was so encouraged that I signed up for a half-marathon in November 2013.
Again, I used an online training plan from Hal Higdon. Once a week, I had a long run that increased in distance each week. The increase was slow, and it helped me train without injury. My children were not interested in increasing distance, so a lot of my training was done on my own. I was very busy working online, and I had to deal with a broken water pipe and significant water damage in my house, but I kept on training no matter what. My fall allergies were bad that year. But I kept on training. The boys and I signed up for a 5K trail run. I was able to complete it, but it was a tough course. I had a road trip the week before my half-marathon. I had a training plan, and even though it was less than 30 degree outside, I kept training three days that week. I had a terrible cold that week, too. I was determined to race, and I woke up the morning of the race feeling sick but determined. I struggled with coughing and breathing during the race, so I walked a lot more than I planned on doing. I finished the race. It was tough, and my time was not great. I finished in 3 hours and 5 minutes. I won first place in my age category.
I took some time to heal and figure out my next goal. I will write about that in my next installment.