"Transformations" can come in all shapes and sizes. For me, the biggest transformation took place in 2009 when I moved over 1,300 miles from Mattapoisett, Massachusetts to Tampa, Florida and had this CRAZY idea to run a HALF-MARATHON! For those of you who know me well, if you asked me to run more than 3 miles prior to 2009 .... I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of your request! I never even considered running more than 3 miles! Never say "never"....
(That's me - after I finished my FIRST Half-Marathon!)
I always thought the cross-country runners and distance athletes on my high school and college track teams were CRAZY to actually enjoy running for miles on end. My idea of "fun" was sprinting as fast as I could (for a very short duration) and I loved the adrenaline burst from a quick race - but that all changed after a season-ending injury during the winter of my Freshman year in college. My sprinting days were over, but that just meant that I had more time to find a new love - a LONG DISTANCE LOVE.
(Bayshore Boulevard - my new "happy place")
One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Tampa for graduate school was that nearly everyone was outside and exercising - no matter what time of the day or time of the year! The majority of the runners could be found on beautiful Bayshore Boulevard (a waterfront road with the longest continuous sidewalk) and I aspired to join those runners while training for my first half-marathon.
So now that I set a goal for myself - running a half-marathon - the next step was to figure out how to properly train for such a race! I researched "half-marathon training programs for a beginner" and found the highly-recommended Half-Marathon Training Guide from Hal Higdon and was immediately encouraged by his easy-to-follow guide and thought, Hey! Maybe I CAN actually do this! After downloading his 12-week novice 1 program guide, I researched "Half-Marathons in Tampa" and was unpleasantly surprised that there was an annual half-marathon IN TAMPA exactly 12 weeks away.... what a coincidence! I had no other choice but to "pull the trigger" and register for the 2010 Gasparilla Half-Marathon!
(Photo: Google Images)
The next step was to purchase a new pair of running shoes and to get my butt on Bayshore to begin my training. The training was NOT easy and it took every ounce of my will power to not quit. I suffered through many cramps, blisters, sun-burns, and got myself stuck in many torrential downpours - but I stuck it out and completed the training program and I was SO ready for race day!
(Morning of the race! I was so nervous, yet excited!)
The race came and went (in about 2 hours!) and I could not believe that I actually ran a half-marathon (without stopping once to walk)! The most important thing for me was the process - not my finishing time, but the fact that I actually accomplished a challenging goal that I set over 12 weeks ago! As I approached the finish line, I had to hold back tears of joy as I picked up my pace and "sprinted" across the FINISH. The adrenaline rush was like none other that I have ever experienced and I certainly got the "runner's high" that I heard so much about. At that moment, I was on top of the world - the highest I have ever been and I was hooked!
(Post-race - all smiles!)
Since 2009, I completed 5 half-marathons, 1 Tough Mudder 12-mile race, and 1 FULL MARATHON! After my first marathon in February of 2012, I retired from endurance running with many memories and vital lessons learned. I learned that once you put your mind to something and set a goal for yourself, you can and WILL achieve your goals if you stay focused and motivated; I learned that even when you feel like giving up, nothing feels better than crossing that "finish line" and achieving your goals; and I learned the importance of listening to your body and resting when you need to. I also learned that there is always room for change or growth ... you just need to figure out what you want in life, set realistic goals, and go after them!
(Before my 2nd Half, with my best friend Meg - my ultimate running buddy)
(After my 3rd Half - with my sweet husband, my #1 fan)
(After Tough Mudder - with my adventurous & fit friend Alex)
So there's my transformation. It was a long road, but I will never look back and regret the process (nor will I forget the feeling of success)! I want that for you! And I encourage you to look deep inside and decide what your main goal is - then go after it!
Thank you for reading my story! I would love to hear your "Transformation Story" or to help you write your own. Please send me a message and let me know how I can help :-)
Want more? Look for the Perfect Pre & Post - Race Meals blog (COMING SOON) to learn how to properly fuel before a long run or race and what to eat after the long run to refuel!.