What better way to start out my new running blog than to celebrate an accomplishment of sorts? Well, there are probably a million better ways, but this is the way I’m choosing to start mine, and it’s by patting myself on the back a little.
Yesterday, on a beautiful trail not far from home, I ran my 3,000th mile. With a friend, of course.
It was a milestone I never dreamed of and probably couldn’t fathom when I started my running adventure. 3,000 miles – the distance from my home town on the West Coast to Ocean City, MD on the East.
Three years ago, I could barely get myself around the one-mile block on which my home sat. I ran alone, slogging through one hot, muggy evening and clocking a blistering 14 minutes to complete that mile.
It was blistering in many ways, and I soon learned that good running shoes fit by a professional were worth their weight in gold, but I’ll talk more about that another time.
For now, let’s just say that first run was not pretty. So for the second run, I enlisted the help of my then 12 year-old son, who was a natural at running and who participated in his school’s running club without a drop of sweat on his brow.
He pushed me hard on that run, and I hated it. I nearly never laced up again. In fact, until he tired of my snail’s pace and let me run alone again, I was fully intending to quit.
But from that experience, I deemed myself a loner. A solo runner, never to run with companions again.
I ran one mile, and then two, and made it to a 5k fairly quickly.
Maybe that’s misleading, because there was nothing “quick” about that first 5k. It took me almost 45 minutes.
Days passed, determination grew, and somehow, I made my peace with running. I even came to love it. An injury sidelined me for the better part of that first year and forced me to forfeit my first half marathon bib, but as soon as I was able I got back out there and hit the pavement. I started over, at one mile and 13 minutes, and I just ran.
Over time, I ran to the five mile mark, then the ten, and beyond. I went outside my comfort zone and joined running groups (again, more on that later), and found a place where I felt at home with others.
While I’m still exceptionally awkward in social settings, I’ve come to understand the benefits of having others beside you, pushing past limits and setting examples.
With them, I ran some more. Running became my escape, my therapy, my joy. I found pride in my accomplishments and pushed my boundaries. Last summer, near the beginning of my love affair with trail running, my Strava app told me I’d run 2,000 miles.
I felt awesome. It wasn’t much for some, but for me it was big. I wasn’t an athlete. I was just me, with a pair of running shoes and a bit of hard-headed resolution never to quit.
Nine months later, and I found myself at the 3,000 mile mark. In between 2,000 and 3,000 I’ve run many distances over 20 miles, tucked away a difficult 50K in horrible weather and a marathon, and found a passion in running relays with Ragnar teams.
I now run a comfortable 9 minute pace on the road and typically clock a 10:30 on trails. I run alone when I’m training, but now I’m much happier running with others. I’ve raced quite a bit and having completed six Ragnar relays I know that team racing is where I belong. I’ve met fantastic people, shared fun and adventure, and created memories I’ll cherish forever.
Every one of those 3,000 miles has meaning to me.
Some came with pain, some with joy. Some miles were run in celebration, others to escape realities I wasn’t ready to face. The only requirement I set for myself was to get out and give it all I had, every time.
Over 500 runs, for 3,000 miles.
Now let’s see what the next 1,000 hold.