Until 2015, I had never run more than three, maybe four miles consecutively. Not once. Never ever.
Even after four years of running track very competitively in high school. Never had I ever been a distance runner. See running has always been a part of my life. I’ve always been pretty fast so running sprints had been my jam since freshman year. If I hoped on the treadmill at the gym, I’d briskly jog a mile and then do 30 second or 1 minute sprints. If I ran outside, I was good for about two miles, three tops.
So when my friend Caitlin asked if I would run the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon, it took some convincing. But after having Reese, I wanted to push myself to do something I’d always avoided especially since I figured the training would help shed the rest of my baby weight. When Caitlin sent me her confirmation email on New Year’s Day, I knew I had to do it too. So I made it my New Year’s Resolution and I signed up.
If you think this is the part of the story where I talk about adopting a rigorous training regimen – running every day, counting miles, building up to running 10, 11, 12 miles – you would be wrong. I did look at a schedule, may have even printed out but I never stuck with it. Instead, I just committed to running three times a week with a goal of at least three miles each time. Sometimes it was more, sometimes it was less. Thankfully at the time, my treadmill still worked so I’d even get some long runs in while catching up on my DVR. But in all honesty, I never ran more than six miles straight in the four months leading up to the race. And I think I only ran that far twice.
Here’s the thing though, on the morning of the race, I woke up and knew I could do it. It may have been raining and I may or may not have worked a party the night before and been out until 1 am but it didn’t matter, I was running this thing. And that’s exactly what we did.
Caitlin and I ran all 13.1 miles together, never stopping despite the rain and my intense desire to sit down and never get back up. Was it hard? Yeah. Did we run it in pretty average time? Yeah probably. Was I sore for three days afterwards? Hell Yeah. But not once during the race did I consider quitting. I figured if I could do it once, I could check it off the list and never do it again.
About 3/4 of the way through, I decided that as long as I kept shuffling my feet, I’d get there faster than walking. So every time I wanted to stop, I just kept shuffling. Then we’d pass a group of people cheering or I’d see the next mile marker and get a little burst of energy. It was like that until the finish line. And to be totally honest, I got a little emotional. My grinch heart grew three sizes that day because I had done something that was genuinely hard and that I never thought I’d accomplish. Done, checked it off the list.
At that point, I thought that was it. I’d go back to my normal running/working out routine but after having Blake, I decided to give it another go. You know what? I trained even less last year than in 2015. Our treadmill finally gave out, so I mostly ran at Orange Theory classes or outside sporadically. Just like in 2015, I probably only did one or two long runs. But I figured, if I could do it once I could probably do it again.
So last year, on another rainy Saturday morning, Caitlin and I stood side by side at the start (after an almost 2 hour weather delay). And just like before, we ran the whole thing – save for a couple bathroom breaks. This time it was both more and less challenging. More because I hadn’t trained as much as I probably should have but less because I knew I’d made it to the end before, I knew what to expect and knew we could do it. So we did. I also had a pretty solid playlist. Can’t underestimate a good playlist in all of this.
We didn’t break any records or do anything groundbreaking but we crossed the finish line and this time Caitlin had her little girl there at the finish line cheering her on (my massive crew was cheering from home because the thought of taking three kids down to that madness is exhausting). It was just as exciting to cross the finish line the second time. Not quite as emotional but just as exciting.
I say all of this to show any of you that think running 13.1 miles or 26.2 miles is something you could never do, that it’s possible. Although I think 26.2 is still out of the realm of possibility for me. Who knows, maybe one year I’ll get a wild hair and decide to try. It may be until my kids go to college though since I think you need to train hard for that and I definitely don’t have time for that commitment right now.
If you’ve ever considered running the Mini or any other half-marathon, sign-up. Just do it. You can definitely do it. They always say ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’ and in this case, I think that’s right. I mean, I could say I am going to travel to the moon but we all know there’s not a chance in hell that’s happening. But running a few miles, that’s a little more feasible.
With that in mind, I’ve signed up for this year’s Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon (it’s on Saturday April 28th in case you were wondering). It will be my third time running it but the first without my running buddy. So it will be a new challenge to run it solo but I think I can do it. At least I’m game to try.