An Honor Bestowed

The following is the body of an article posted in Runner’s World+ in October 2019.

I HOPE TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS WITH MY RUN JOURNEY

I became a serious ‘runner’ about 10 years ago, after I developed chronic, debilitating back and hip pain in my early 40s. Intuitively I knew I needed to move, but initially even walking much was painful. Eventually, I asked my husband to purchase a treadmill for my use at home, and thereafter I spent some quality time on it for many months. Slowly but surely, I was able to go from walking to jogging. Once I felt strong enough, I ventured outdoors to run in my neighborhood. Did I mention I live in the high desert? At 4500-feet elevation! Heavy breathing was a constant while running in my hill country. It used to demoralize me. But I stuck with my runs because my back and hips were no longer hurting. It would take years of running in my community before I felt like I was making any gains. But eventually, I did get stronger. I ran my first race (10K) six years ago because a friend asked me to help her train for a half marathon. Our training for that distance has led to running many races over the past five years. And because I do most of my running in my community, I have been able to encourage and train others in my town who want or need to become more active. This is especially fulfilling to me; running has not only enriched and improved my life, but it has become a vehicle by which I may encourage others to begin their run journeys too.

WHY I JOINED RW+

I joined RW+ to have access to every good thing RW offers. I simply could not imagine losing access to regular online articles and features; additionally, having the paper magazine means I can share RW with those whom I train; especially those new to running who have not yet enjoyed reading RW.

RUNNING HAS TAUGHT ME THAT MY BODY IS STRONG

Running makes me feel strong and younger than my years. And it makes me feel accomplished; especially when I have a race on my calendar and a training plan that beckons me to stay on course with the hard workouts. I am naturally lazy and afraid of over-committing myself (physically), so running has taught me that my body is strong…most of the time it is stronger than I believe it to be.

What motivates me to run? Keeping ahead of my own aging! That’s what motivates me. When I make gains in my running strength and stamina, I am loathe to go backward. Some reversals in fitness are out of our control (accidents, illness, etc), so the fact that fitness is a dynamic moving target keeps me moving, and running as much as I can. And I love feeling younger and stronger than I was in my 20s, 30s and 40s. Plus, running gives me an opportunity to have ‘me time’, and unlike other indulgences, running is not a guilty pleasure, but rather a place of happy sanctuary from daily stress. Of course, there are negative motivators too, like how I feel when I don’t run (lack of energy, weight gain, aches/pains). So on most days I am pretty motivated to move my feet happily outdoors or on the treadmill.

I NEED TO RUN IN THE MORNING

My work schedule is full of training appointments and group classes I teach. Most days if I don’t run first thing in the morning, I won’t have time or energy to run in the evening. Sometimes I will run twice a day (two easy, short runs) to fit around a full day of appointments. The weekends are used for easy and or long runs if I’m training for a race.

I RUN IN MY COMMUNITY

I run a variety of routes in my home town during the week, mostly on the streets leaving straight away from my home. I live in the high desert, so the terrain provides excellent hill and altitude (4500-feet elevation) training. Depending on my energy level and current training plan, I’ll pick a route to match my mood and available time. And because my community is rural desert, there is an endless array of trails to run on too. But mostly, during the week, I just like being in my community, running through the neighborhoods and enjoying the natural beauty and serenity running provides me. When I need an extra boost of running encouragement, I’ll drive into town (30 minutes south and 2000-feet lower in elevation) to run on the city’s urban multi-use trails. This really is an ego pump…running fast (relative to home) on the urban paths with so many other happy runners is quite energizing.

FAVORITE GEAR

The one item I almost always wear for all my 3+ mile runs is my running hydration pack by Nathan. This pack is designed gender specific and boasts a 2-liter bladder which accommodates my hydration needs when running in the dry southwest. My pack carries everything I need (phone, nutrition, first aid, keys, etc) without the uncomfortable bounce of a waist belt or fanny pack. Of course I ALWAYS wear my Garmin Fenix 5s GPS watch with my heart rate strap monitor to keep myself honest on easy run days and to feel like a hero when I run on the urban pathways.

I WANT TO BE A LIFE-LONG RUNNER

I would like to run another marathon in 2020 and finish within 4.5 to 5.0 hours. I ran my first marathon last year (Marine Corps Marathon) after contracting shingles two months before the race. The fact I finished the race at all was an amazing accomplishment given my health status on race day. I hope to run two more half marathons before attempting my second full marathon. But really my most important running goal is to be a life-long runner; and if I can run happy through the rest of my decades, then I will consider myself a fulfilled runner indeed!

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