On Sundays I run with a group called the “Officially Unofficial Running Group” which is headed up by a very accomplished runner and natural born leader named Julie. We explore new running routes in and around Buffalo every week and we often take turns choosing locations and charting each new course. This week took us to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor on Lake Erie where we encountered this striking woodland creature wandering around curiously close to the city.
It was the hottest day in The Buffalo Marathon’s 16 year history, topping 86 degrees on May 29, 2016. My first Half Marathon is now in the books. When I crossed the finish line, my initial thought was, “I’m glad that’s over with!” Ten minutes later, I was discussing which race to do next with running friends. Thinking back on my time during the road race, I recall many different subjects that went through my mind. I could dedicate numerous blog posts to the things one thinks of, the heightened emotions and the mental challenges faced when pushing yourself to your limit in the company of thousands of others doing the same thing or looking on as spectators. But what really stands out more than anything is that not even a year ago, the idea of running a half marathon had never played out in my mind at all. I never believed I could become a runner. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
I ran with my trail running group at Sprague Brook Park earlier this month. A young first timer joined us and showed a remarkable affinity for running trails. It was a good day for everyone. A couple of days later, that young life was lost. His step-mother, my running friend, told me she was glad she had that last good day with him.
This time last year I could not have imagined that I’d be training for a half marathon and running in winter weather. The first pic is from a trail running event at Chestnut Ridge and the second is from half and full marathon training with Fleet Feet. My first time running 9 miles.
Much has happened in the 6 months since I started my running journey. I had a scare with a knee injury early on. Thankfully it turned out to be just a minor setback. After completing Fleet Feet’s Learn to 5k program, I began preparing for their 2.0 program which trains runners for distances of up to 5 miles. By the time the program started, I was already running 5 miles comfortably, so I decided to move up to 3.0 instead and we worked toward an 8 mile goal. My knee pain still kicks in from time to time at the longer distances, but I’ve learned to keep an eye on it and apply preventative measures.
My current distance PR is 8.6 miles and my fastest 5k pace is around 9:15. Since starting, I’ve run in 4 races including a half marathon relay. I’ve discovered the joy of trail running, conquered my fear of running in cold weather, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life in general.
I hemmed and hawed about what to do next and I’ve finally decided to sign up for Fleet Feet’s HFM program which consists of various training levels that prepare runners for Half and Full marathon races. The program begins next week. I’ll be starting at the beginner level and my goal is to run the Buffalo Half in May. Unfortunately, I have a lot of work travel coming up in the next few weeks, which means I’ll miss out on some training, but I’m determined to stay on track.
When you’re new to something like running there are a hundred firsts to look forward to and to celebrate when you achieve them, through challenges, setbacks and all. I am extremely grateful to those close to me who have supported me and who are truly happy for my joy.