26.2 Miles With a Meaning

26.2 miles. It seemed like such a stretch. I grabbed a 26.2 sticker at my first half marathon expo and hung it on my fridge for a reminder of a challenge I set for myself to one day accomplish. I settled in and decided to become comfortable with one distance before tackling another. Then about two years after I started running the phone call came. My little sister was diagnosed with Brca 1 stage 4 Breast Cancer. That’s when I knew without a doubt that the first 26.2 miles I would ever run would become her miles and miles to help raise funds to battle a horrible disease.

The next phase was to talk to a running coach to be sure I was even being realistic since I was coming off of injury. I got the green light and trained smart for my one and only upcoming half the spring of 2017. I ran my training series runs and PR’d at each of them and nailed a 2:03 for my Spring Half. I took some downtime and picked back up in June.

Running through summer was something I had never really done and something I thought for me was impossible. I quickly learned so much about myself. I could run in the hot weather and horrible humidity. My first 100 mile month came and passed and I didn’t even realize I ran that many miles. However by the time August came around it was becoming a mental challenge, so to pull myself back in all I had to do was think of my sister.

Marathon Weekend came and full of so much emotion. On race morning for the first time I had to leave my husband behind and be escorted to security and then to my corral. So in my corral just me, myself and I the journey began. The course amazing, the crowd support unmatched. The miles weren’t the prettiest or even my best run. My first full a learning experience but one I would have never given up on. Did I hurt? Absolutely! Did I want to quit? Never! I knew just how much my 26.2 miles meant to me and to so many others who are trying to find a cure for cancer. Before the race started we had raised over $1 million dollars and the total just continued to grow as we ran. It’s a race that I will forever hold close to my heat and one that will make me really think hard before doing another just because of what this one meant to me.

If a full is something you are considering but need a reason. Find that reason! A full has the ability to change you on its own but once you add a meaning behind the miles it takes it to an entire new level.

The Progression

People ask why! Why do want to run 13.1 miles. The answer, simple actually. It’s the feeling of accomplishment when you see the finish line and cross it! The emotions you feel are unmatched. The crowd cheering you on along the course and the high fives from complete strangers when you finish. It’s the most supportive community I’ve ever been blessed to be a part of.

So after one came a schedule of three half marathons. All strategically placed so they could be accomplished. Training continued and October soon approached. Feeling strong and running a course in my home town. Running it on roads I trained on. The outcome I managed to shave 15 minutes off my First Half Marathon pace and finished with a strong 2:07. The bad news, a day later I started to experience extreme pain in my foot. Went to the doctor and was told I had dislocated a bone in my foot. Something no runner every wants to hear. In the boot I went and training derailed. So Half Marathon three and four canceled. Even though it was a dislocated bone the lesson I learned from this was just how important strength training was for a runner. As much as we want to just run we can’t.

This brings us to January of 2016. I started running with my local Fleet Feet Sports Training club to hold me accountable and see if they could possibly help me accomplish my goals. So taking my training a little more seriously I had joined a training program and also registered for a series of races that are used to help you gauge your progression. The 500festival Miler series presented by OrthoIndy. This series consists of a 3,6, and 10 mile run. My training went well and I ran strong. That is until April. I decided to try a new pair of shoes and again another foot issue. A pinched nerve that barely allowed to apply any pressure while just walking. I got a pair of shoes I liked on one of my running coaches and found out quickly these shoes were not for me. The heal drop was to high for me, and I learned how important a gate analysis is. My advice don’t ever buy a shoe by looks. Buy what is right for your foot. So into PT I went three weeks out from my race. Would it be the race I wanted? I made it halfway and had to walk/run the rest in horrible pain because not finishing wasn’t an option. This year I would clock my worst half marathon time and have to cancel all my fall races. Slowly but surely getting discouraged and being given every reason to just give in and call my running career done even though it had just begun. So from May-January I had a lot of time to reflect on things I learned and hope that the injections I had received would hold and allow me to run. There was a real possibility that I would be done.

Welcome January 2017! I entered into my training season with an open mind. Knowing that things could go well or the bottom could fall out. So when every run and race series was completed I was forever thankful for being able to still put one foot in front of the other. 2017 would prove to be my strongest year. I PR’d at not just one but all my Miler Races and my Spring Half. I was in search of a sub 2 hour half marathon and it looked like it could become a reality. So race morning came and I was running strong. I got about half way in and lost my music. It all suddenly became very mental. Could I do it without music? I knew I couldn’t quit or make an attempt at fixing my music. I just had to keep going. I saw the finish line and ran with so much energy and still more to give. I completed it in a 2:03! My sub 2 hour half eluding me, but the take away. I finished strong, no injuries and in a time I knew I was proud of. I literally felt like I was at the top of my game and was prepared to continue my training. However, 2017 was different. I wasn’t registered for another half or even two. I was registered to run my first Full Marathon. Not just any Full. I was running Chicago for the American Cancer Society. Representing Team Determination. I ran it not for me, but for my younger sister who was in the fight of her life. Diagnosed with triple negative brca 1 stage four breast cancer at 33. That is when it all changed. Running wasn’t just about setting PR’s and crushing goals. It was about escaping from every day problems and being surrounded by so many awesome people to help pull me through some of life’s most difficult days.

The Beginning

If you are like me which most people are running was never my thing. I did everything that I could to avoid running. In High School I played Volleyball and ran short distance in track. As an adult to stay fit I became a group fitness instructor. I raised a daughter who excelled at track and soccer. But even then long distance to me was boring. After all we were both sprinters. Explosive speed and power. The long runs were well, boring!

The Beginning!

Fast forward to 2014. Life events happened, my connection to group fitness faded and I knew I had to do something to continue to help inspire others and help them better themselves daily. The natural path to me made sense. Running it would be. I began my running journey with Couch to 5k. Slowly making progress from run/walk intervals to one day finally taking off and registering for my first Half Marathon for the spring of 2015. Before I could even start my training schedule I found out I had to have major surgery with a recovery of at least 6 weeks. I worried but was determined that I would somehow complete the first half marathon that I had registered for. I was able to complete my first half with minimal training and with a time of 2:22. When I finished my first I knew from that day I was hooked. The feeling running gave me was like no other. The friends and support system I have gained because of it have been amazing, and the experiences and opportunities it has brought to me irreplaceable.

Something I never thought was possible became a reality!