Friday, December 7, 2012

Looking forward, looking back

Two years ago this week I ran my very first marathon. I ran the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon (it was still a morning race in 2010) and my finishing time was 4:15:50, which I was insanely happy with.

A quick look back at some of my running timeline - 

April 25, 2009 - First run of my entire life. 2 miles (with quite a bit of walking). Very humbling!
June 2009 - Ran a 5k in about 32 minutes
July 2009 - Ran a 10k in about 1:02
June 2010 - Ran my first Ragnar Relay
July 2010 - Ran a 5k in 23:33
September 2010 - Ran my first half marathon in 2:04 and change
December 5, 2010 - Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon - 4:15:50

On December 5, 2010, I fell in love with the marathon. As I crossed the finish line and walked through the finisher's area, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I kept thinking, "I did it! I really did it!" It had been hard of course, but I loved it. I never wanted to quit. I never thought, "I'll never do this again!" I never stopped running. Walking through that finish line area, I loved the ache in my legs and the feeling that I had really pushed my body hard. I loved the tired and sore feeling, and somehow it made me feel even stronger than before. I couldn't stop smiling. I had a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement - and I knew that for me, running a marathon was much more than checking off something on my bucket list. I knew I wanted to run more. I knew I was hooked.

Just as I found a part of myself on April 25, 2009 when I went on that very first run, I found a part of myself on December 5, 2010 when I finished that first marathon. Something inside my soul clicked. A piece of my future slid into place. I had truly enjoyed the shorter races I had done before then, but nothing compared to the marathon.

I started talking about "the next one" as we walked back to the hotel from the finish area, and I remember my Dad laughing at me. At that point I didn't have any bigger goals, but as I trained more and ran more marathons, the goals came.

My first goal was to run a marathon in under four hours. On April 26, 2011, I ran a 3:57 marathon in Salt Lake. That day I realized that I had set a goal, worked hard, and accomplished it. I trained and improved. It was an awesome feeling. I started to wonder what else I could do. Could I possibly qualify for Boston? Break 3:30? I trained hard all summer, and in September 2011 I ran a 3:32 and then a 3:28.

I set two PR's in the half marathon and full marathon in the Goofy Challenge in January 2012. I won a half marathon in July 2012. I broke 20 minutes in the 5k in August 2012. I ran a 3:17 marathon in Pocatello in September 2012 (even though I gave up over 4 minutes on the clock to stomach problems). There were other races in there (11 marathons total and several shorter races) - not all went well, but they all taught me something and they all are part of my journey.

I have learned a great deal in the last two years. I have learned about training, resting, fueling, shoes, conditioning, stretching, recovery, gear, over-training, pacing, planning, avoiding injury, coaching, and much much more. I have learned from other runners, books, magazines, friends, courses, experience, social media, elites, coaches, and trial and error. I have learned that I am tougher than I ever thought, and willing to work harder than most. I have learned that Josh, my parents, my kids, and a few special friends will always be there to love, support, and encourage me. I have learned that the running community is amazing and truly awesome to be a part of. I have learned that I love the marathon even more than I did two years ago.

It has been a wonderful two years. As I took a little time on this anniversary to look back and reflect on my marathon journey so far, it has encouraged and uplifted me. It has fueled my passion, commitment, ambition, and joy. Bring on the next two years and beyond. :)

Vegas Rock n Roll, December 5, 2010
Pocatello, September 2012

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." - Winston Churchill


Vicky Cook said...

I definitely remember being 100% certain that there was NO WAY on this earth I would running another marathon during my 1st (and at this point only) marathon!!!!! Why on earth would I want to do that to myself again? I'm not a stupid person and this was definitely stupid, nope no more for me!!! :D Of course I very quickly changed my mind. I have been told a few times not to be too disappointed if I don't reach my goal for Houston. What these people fail to understand about me is that's not a choice I have and if I do fail (its a big possibility, my goal isn't an easy one) it will only add fuel to the fire ;) Like you, I'm in this for the long haul, everything doesn't hinge on the next race. eggs and baskets and all that! Good luck in achieving your goals or at least having fun trying!

Becky at Prairie Runner said...

I love reading your posts. You have such an inspirational story and it is one that I share with many friends as they begin their running journeys.

Bill Fine said...

What a journey, Erin.....simply amazing! And the best is yet to come!

Mommy Run Fast said...

I felt the same way after my first marathon, too... and only now, 2 years later, am attempting a second.
Love your story and seeing your progress, you are always so inspiring!! Can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for you.

Beth @ Miles and Trials said...

What an amazing journey and you are no where near over with it. Wonderful things to come for you with all of your hardwork and drive. I was also hooked after my first
marathon in October of 2009. I love the distance!

On the Right Track said...

What a great quote at the end...and so telling of where you have gone with your running! very inpirational and uplifting indeed! A nice reminder of where we can all go if we believe we can...

Kortni said...

Running is like a breath of fresh air and it brings so much to our lives. I love following your journey and know that you have huge things in your future!

Melissa said...

You are such an inspirtation! Wow! To think where you started and now, incredible. I hope I can do half of what you have done.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

What an inspiring post! It's great to see how much you've accomplished in so short a time. I started running marathons in 2006, have run 12 so far, and I hope to run my 13th in January.

Christina Williams said...

I just love reading your stats and your stories ... it gives me such hope and inspiration for myself, to continue to progress. And - it gives us all so much appreciation for the joy of the sport. You have accomplished so much and are definitely a force to be reckoned with in this sport! :)

Suz and Allan said...

Such an amazing journey in the past two years! You are such a talented running and quite an inspiration to so many people.