Running [Wo]Man

That's me!

Actually, in that picture above, that's my friend Heather and I - we had just run the Ocean City Half Marathon back in early October.  It was her first half and my 5th or 6th (I confess I've kind of lost count).  That's us - all smiles after we crossed the finish line: goal attained!

I've been a runner for about 16 years.  The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college I decided to pick it up. This was before the days of couch to 5k, and I started basically with the same concept: I'd run-walk-run-walk-run-walk and gradually increase the running intervals.  By the end of the summer, I was running 3-4 miles at a time.  I remember those runs so clearly: putting on my walkman and mix tape, running past open fields (which are now housing developments) and realizing that running is good for my soul.  It is a big step to go from saying "I jog" to "I am a runner." It's powerful!   

As time went on, I registered for races and set bigger goals: run a 5K, run a 5 mile race, run a half marathon, and finally run a full marathon.  I ran the 2004 Philadelphia Marathon and it remains one of my greatest accomplishments in life.  As a busy mom with an overly full plate (two kids, job, household to run, projects to do and this blog!), running is what keeps me sane.  I don't run with music.  I find it distracting and I crave the quiet time all to myself.  These days, the half marathon is my race of choice.  It's enough distance to be a challenge, but not so long that the training consumes my time.  By Thanksgiving, I will have run three half marathons: Ocean City with Heather, the half connected with the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 20 and a random local half just this past Sunday.  

Since I've met my distance goals, I've had an ever-present, ever-elusive time goal of running a half marathon in under two hours.  I came really close a few years ago, but it's proven to be a just out of reach goal for me.  To run 13.1 miles in under 2 hours, a runner has to do it averaging 9 minute miles or less.  My pace is a little slower than that: somewhere around 9.5 minutes per mile, but lately my training runs have been fast and strong.  Plus, race day is different -- always.

I was hopeful that I could make my goal at this Sunday's half, which was described as a course with "a couple of minor hills: short and steep."  Um, no.  There were three miles (yes, miles) of hill after hill, steep hill after steep hill.  So I got those three miles under my belt (running at a 8:30 pace mind you!) and ran the next 6 really strong, too.  My pace was great.  And then ... bam.  The hills I had to run for the first three miles were back. I struggled.  And then ... bam.  We had to run through the woods -- uphill.  I will repeat: after I had banked 10.5 miles, I then had to run uphill through a narrow rocky, leaf and rock and root covered path in.the.woods.  Blair Witch style, my friends.  It was insane.  I fell, but was OK. People were falling all around me (I saw about three other runners bite it).  For me at that point, the race changed from goal of less than two hours to goal of freaking making it out of there without injury.  I did not want to be runner roadkill (like fashion roadkill in Sex & the City), and trust me: it could have happened.

Needless to say, I didn't hit my goal and ran the race in just over 2 hours.  Given the extremely challenging course, I am as pleased as I could be with my time ... though, those who know me know I'm a bit meh about not making my goal.  No worries though: my next and final half for 2011 is the Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday Nov. 20.  I am confident I can make my time goal for that, because I know the course and it is flat and fast and not in the woods.  :)  I'll be sure to post my time here.

So ... are any of you guys runners? Care to swap worst race stories?  Truly: aside from the Philly Marathon, this was the most challenging race I have ever run.

See you swoon,


  1. I have full faith in you that you will do Philly in under 2 hours! That last race was horrible and you finished just over 2. You will rock Philly!!
    I just want to say how much I love running with you, and how much I appreciate all of the help, love and support you have given me. I NEVER would have been able to run my first half without your endless support and encouragement. You helped me to push myself during training runs, which led to me being able to run the OC half. I look forward to many more races together! Love you :)

  2. I wish I was runner Shanna!! I have been getting "healthier" since February and I have been walking, first a mile and then up to 3 miles. Now I am trying the run, walk, run, sequence. I have lost 50+ pounds too! So to be a runner is my dream!! You are a SuperWoman for real!!

  3. Thank you guys! You both made me cry! And you both inspire me!