Hi Bloggies! The next few days I am working 12 hour days (or more) so since I am going to be crazy busy so I have asked Megan to do a guest post about her journey to becoming a runner. I hope you enjoy her inspirational story of how she came to run her first half marathon. She is amazing such an inspiration especially to me because I am preparing to run my first 5k, 5miler, 10k and 1/2 MARATHON (eek) over the next 6 months.
Hi everyone! My name is Megan. You may remember me from this guest post about what it’s like to live in Germany as a vegan. Now I’m back in the US and blogging about my life as a vegan, dog mom, and runner in Upper Michigan.
Not long ago, that third descriptor – runner – wouldn’t have been included. I did gymnastics in high school and ran sprints on the track team for two years, but at my best I couldn’t run more than 3 miles. Some of the people I looked up to/envied the most in high school were long distance runners, but that sport just “wasn’t for me.”
Throughout college and graduate school I was a casual exerciser, going to the gym a couple times a week (in the best of times) to use the elliptical, lift, or do Pilates.
In September of 2009, after quitting graduate school and spending a summer working and studying in Sweden, I moved to Germany to teach English for a year. It was a life-changing step, but nothing compared to what happened after: I became vegan. I’m still not sure where the conviction came from, but the idea had been simmering in my brain for awhile. Finally, it boiled over and I went vegan overnight in October 2009.
After that, everything changed. I felt like each day had a bit more of a purpose and challenge to it. I began to eat differently, cook and bake more, and to come out of a slump caused by an unhappy two years at grad school and a summer of eating delicious but often unhealthy food in Sweden. I didn’t realize until much later, but I had gained some weight and was just feeling weird in my body. Now, as a vegan, I was thinking much more about what went into my body and what I did for my health. I joined a Pilates studio and started taking class 2x a week.
The fall gave way to winter. I began to make new friends and form a life in Germany, but with life comes struggle. Shortly before Christmas I began a short-lived relationship with one of my new vegan friends, who also happened to be a marathoner. The few weeks the affair lasted were intense and tumultuous and ended abruptly right after my first Christmas every away from my family. I was sad, angry, hurt, and lonely. I was also on break from school until mid-January and had way too much time to feel bad for myself.
Then, one of my new Twitter friends Lindsay (yes, this Lindsay!) retweeted a link to Tia’s post about completing the C25k running plan. I read Tia’s words about her silent struggle to complete the program. I was so inspired and, even though it was bitter cold outside, suddenly needed to go run. Right away.
And that was it! The program was so simple to follow and had such a firm goal that I never stopped. From January to April (I had some breaks for illness and travel) I ran in all sorts of weather, often the only person on the street. I began to feel so much better physically and mentally, and I started to lose some weight I didn’t know I’d gained, likely a result of the running combined with my new diet. I even brought my shoes on a backpacking trip to Portugal ran through the town of Sintra. Who was I?
On April 25, 2010, the last day of my C25k training, I ran the 24th annual Hildesheimer Wedekind-Lauf 5k in Hildesheim, Germany. I could NOT believe it! I was so proud and so thankful that I had felt driven to train, even if I was inspired by pain and sadness.
After the race, I continued to run a few times a week, loosely following the One Hour Runner plan. I moved back to the US in July 2010 and kept going, but in August I began working toward teacher certification at the local university and my Masters thesis was due in October. I stopped running almost completely and before long it was snowy and icy and I didn’t have a park across the street to run in.
I missed it, though, and I also knew how well I had responded to having the goal of the 5k during the C25k program. On New Years Day 2011, after nervously considering the idea in the back of my mind for a week or two, I took the leap and registered for the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon.
Yep. A half marathon. I was so scared but C25k had proved to me that slow, steady, dedicated training can prepare you for things you never thought possible.
I joined my university’s gym and began following an adaptation of Hal Higdon’s novice plan. If I hadn’t registered I never would have trained! Without having $60 invested plus the verbal commitment (to my parents, boyfriend, etc), it would have been so easy to bail. There were many dark and nasty winter days when thinking about going to the gym felt painful. But I stuck with it for 14 weeks, gradually increasing my mileage closer and closer to 13.1.
No part of it was easy, but the rewards were great. Each week brought a new personal distance record. I was accomplishing something and I could see and feel it. As May 15 grew closer, I knew I would be able to finish the half marathon. I had put in the sweat!
On April 23, I ran a local 10-miler (in the SNOW!) as a training run and after that it seemed like just the blink of an eye before mid-May.
The morning of my race (full recap on my blog), I knew I was prepared but it felt like a dream. I had read so many half marathon recaps that I couldn’t believe it was me who was going to run. I was not a runner!
But, in that moment, and the 2 hours and 25 minutes that followed, and all moments since January 2010 and all the ones since, I was and am a runner. If you run, you are a runner. I will be a runner forever and I have the C25k and the support of my Tweeps to thank for it. If you think you could never do it, you can. All it takes is one step, and then another and another – with plenty of walk breaks.