History of Running, Part 3: Surviving

That breakup. The 3-year on-again-off-again relationship with a man I loved, but who could never truly love me back—because you don’t treat people you love the way he treated me. I know that now. While he ended it in the beginning of October, we technically kept dating until January, and I kept holding on until March (which is insane, I know. But there was so much chaos, manipulation, codependency, and trauma mixed together that it was so, SO hard to break away). That timeline is important for you to know because it goes along with my running at the time.

The weekend after the breakup, I ran the Red Rock Relay with three friends from my church congregation—Sam, Dane, and Melissa—and my ex’s awesome sister and her friend. Six of us in a van driving through the mountains of Utah all day. We each ran 2 legs of the race. A majority of us had injuries. I was not properly fueled, as I had barely eaten or drank anything all week from grief. And I loved the whole day. (Okay, the dehydration and cramping and suckiness of my second run wasn’t great, but I still did it, and obviously don’t focus on that while looking back on the day as a whole, haha)

While I knew Sam and Dane casually from church, I don’t think we weren’t super close friends before the race started. But during this race, we found an appreciation for the TV show New Girl and from that time forward, we started watching new episodes together every Thursday night. After the run, the 3 of us also went to get Noodles & Co. together. We started hanging out regularly from that time forward.

Toward the end of November, there was some drama with my ex (who I was still seeing regularly at that point, if you recall). I was devastated. And this is where Sam came in. He worked with his running coach to switch around some training runs to go on a 6 mile run with me that night, way below his normal training pace (and knowing now how serious he is with his training, that is HUGE). We ran 6 miles down Provo Canyon in the dark (we forgot lights) and in the constantly pouring rain (couldn’t wear my glasses!), while Sam told me stories, and I found the strength that I needed to find that night. It meant so much to me. (I believe this was also the furthest I had run since my 10k back in June 2014).

At Christmastime I remember talking to Sam on the phone while I was visiting family in San Diego, and he offered to coach me to help me reach my running goals. I was unsure how dedicated I was to the things I wanted to accomplish, so I pushed pause on the idea. But by March or April, sometime during the peak of grief and trauma, I was all in. I needed something to work toward, and something that I could have some control over. Training gave that to me.

I trained to PR my 5k, and to run my first half marathon. Sam helped me do both of those things.

Race for Red 5k: 26:54 (average 8:39 min/mile pace). A HUGE PR, if you remember any of my other 5k finish times. I didn’t race the smartest—I definitely went out too fast and struggled on the way back in—but this was my first time incorporating speed work into my runs, and I could see the impact that had (and I learned that I really enjoy speed work)!

AF Canyon Half Marathon: 2:04 (average 9:29 min/mile). I ran with my friend Haley the whole time, who I had done all of my long runs with while training! Sam and our friend Mikala also ran, so it was fun seeing them at the finish line, along with Haley’s mom and brother Mic. To this day, completing this race is one of my biggest accomplishments. (It’s also one of my favorite races, and I’m signed up to do it again this year).

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There you have it, where it all started. Sometimes I look at people who have been running since they were track stars in high school, or people who started running and LOVED IT and never stopped progressing, and I feel like my journey is less. But just because I progressed more slowly doesn’t make my joy from the sport any less, or make the accomplishments that I reach any less meaningful (I don’t totally believe that last one internally yet, but I’m working on it).

The point is: This is my journey, and I love it. Running has saved me multiple times, and continues to do so. I have run more races since the AF Canyon Half, and my training is still changing and evolving. You can read about those races in the race recaps, and I’ll continue to share as my journey progresses!

 

Race for Red 5k, May 2017

AF Canyon Half Marathon, June 2017

Temple to Temple 5k, July 2017

Nebo Half Marathon, August 2017

Cottonwood Heights Thanksgiving 5k, November 2017

 

Saints and Sinners Relay, February 2018

Rex Lee Run, March 2018

History of Running, Part 2: Maintaining

Run Through the Lavender 5k, Summer 2015
Thankful 5k, November 2015

Temple to Temple 5k, July 2016
Red Rock Relay, October 2016
Voices of Courage 5k, October 2016

The period from 2015-2016 was defined by me starting then leaving a job in social work (July 2015-March 2016), and continuing an on-again off-again relationship (off most of 2015, on again in January 2016, if I remember correctly, then “off again” in October 2016, but still chaotically around). These things + the stress that accompanied both of them (whether or not I realized exactly how much stress at the time) caused my running to take a backseat. (Edit: Those things are true, but I think the bigger thing was, running just wasn’t my priority. It felt good so I still didn’t, but it wasn’t where my focus was. Different seasons for different things). I’d still run, but I was definitely not keeping up momentum from the running I did in 2014. It was more of maintaining. I was still just casually lingering around the 2-4 mile range.

In summer 2015 I did the Run Through the Lavender 5k with some girlfriends, which was (aside from the Ragnar Relay the year before) the first race that I did “with” other people. While I didn’t technically run with them, it was so fun to start and end together. Before, running had always been a solo endeavor, and I really appreciated the social aspect of this race for me.

 

In the fall of 2015 I trained with my friend David to run the Thankful 13- 5k race on Thanksgiving morning. I remember running around the neighborhoods in Springville on late chilly evenings. It was fun to run in new places, and to train WITH someone (Note: When I say “train” I still just mean slowly running 1-3 miles a few times a week). We ran it on Thanksgiving morning. It was freezing (more cold than any Thanksgiving morning since), but I gave it my all and really enjoyed it. (Chip time: 30:46— average 9:56 min/mile pace).

I ran the Temple to Temple 5k in July 2016. My boyfriend at the time surprised me at the start to run it with me, which I LOVED, and we made our way through Provo to the finish. I don’t have my time for this, but I’m pretty sure it was around a 9:30 pace. I really lingered around that pace for a very long time.

At the very beginning of October that relationship (kind of) ended, and I ran a relay the next weekend. But I’m going to come back to that relay in the next post, because that was a big thing for me, and goes along with what came next.

Also in October 2016 I ran the Voices of Courage 5k with BYU Women’s Services and Resources (where I was teaching yoga on Saturday mornings at the time). My finish time was 31:46. I remember that I came in wanting to get a PR (“personal record”) for my 5k time, but the first half mile was SO congested that I realized that would be impossible (like, the course took us on a narrow sidewalk beside the buildings, so there was no room to move forward. You just had to go with the flow of traffic). I took it easy, enjoyed the race, and was grateful that I could support an organization that I worked with and appreciated so much.

There you have it: my continued casual running. Next up: Structured training and focused goals—and using running as part of my trauma recovery experience.

History of Running, Part 1: Casually Running

I re-organized the running bibs on my wall last week and grew even more reminiscent about running than I usually am. Haha! I realized that I have a lot that I really want to share with you about these races—more than the few race recaps I have posted on this blog. Here is my list of races so far (starting in June 2014, during what I consider to be my first race):

Utah Valley 10k, June 2014
Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back, June 2014

Run Through the Lavender 5k, Summer 2015
Thankful 5k, November 2015

Temple to Temple 5k, July 2016
Red Rock Relay, October 2016
Voices of Courage 5k, October 2016

Payson Pay-It-Forward 5k, May 2017
Race for Red 5k, May 2017
AF Canyon Half Marathon, June 2017
Temple to Temple 5k, July 2017
Nebo Half Marathon, August 2017
Cottonwood Heights Thanksgiving 5k, November 2017

Saints and Sinners Relay, February 2018
Rex Lee Run, March 2018

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Part 1: The Beginning: Casually Running

Aside from, if I recall, walking a 5k with my mom once when I was a teenager, I feel like I’ve been running casually and semi-regularly since about summer 2008, when I moved out to Utah. But very, very casually—likely only one or two miles at a time, and participating in the occasional 5k “race” to have something to work toward. I also remember being plagued with shin splints often during this time.

 

Note: I was trying to think of 5k’s I’d done in the past to look up those times, if they still existed anywhere on the internet. I found a 5k I did in August 2009, and my time was 32:39. I think that was my average, or even my best at the time, with that casual running. I looked up another I had done in May 2012 and my time was 39:38. (I truthfully don’t remember a single thing about this race, aside from a memory of pulling into the packet pickup the night before, and the knowledge that I did a 5k the morning before my friend’s wedding. But maybe that’s why I’m doing these posts—because I DON’T remember these things well, and I want to).

In February 2014, I found myself heartbroken and crushed when I experienced a misunderstanding with one of my closest friends, and he no longer wanted to be friends with me anymore. Like, shaken to the core, falling into a deep depression sort of crushed. For probably close to 6 weeks, the only times I felt happy were when I was exercising—so, thanks to my job with the city and a free pass to the rec center, I found myself on the elliptical and treadmill often that winter. Me and 30 Rock on my phone’s Netflix app.

Another perk of working for the city: I was offered a STEEP discount on the Utah Valley races that June. I decided to sign up for the 10k because it was SUCH a good deal, and even if I didn’t do it, I’d only be out a few bucks. (Like really, nothing).

My sad-running found a purpose. I started running around my neighborhood at night, often with friends from my apartment complex. This was the first race I feel like I “trained” for. This was the first race that I really stretched myself for.

I ran the race, and somehow got 57:15 (which is still better than a lot of the 10k runs I do now. Ha! It must have been the adrenaline). Shout out to Kenzie and Marina who came to support me, by the way! 4 years later and it still means so much to me!

About a week later, Rebecca, an old friend from my hometown who I hadn’t seen in YEARS, posted on Facebook that she was going to Utah to run the Ragnar Relay that weekend and they had an open spot on their team, and would anyone be interested. Running a relay had been something I had always thought would be cool to do, but I doubted my abilities. Gratefully, it was the “easiest” leg of the race, and I was already trained up because of the 10k I had done just days earlier. So exactly two weeks after my first 10k, and just probably 4 days after the invite to join the team, I found myself running a Ragnar Relay in the beautiful mountains of Utah with a bunch of strangers… and I LOVED it. From the notes on my old iPhone, I have the approximate times from my three legs (taken from my cheapo running watch with the stopwatch on it):

Leg 1: 4.7 miles in 46 minutes
Leg 2: 3.6 miles in 39 minutes
Leg 3: 3.1 miles in 39:30 minutes

That’s where it started, friends.

A lot of my running has been running FROM something—heartache, depression, vices, etc. But what starts as a means of escape has often turned into a source of deep joy and fulfillment. I am so grateful for my health, and a body that lets me do this thing that I love.

Up next: Continuing to run casually, and then the shift to structured training and focused goals.