I always have memories of running running in my family. There seems to be some kind of natural aptitude for it passed on from my father to my brother and sister. Dad was kind of a crazy runner - the type who would run fifteen miles in the heat and then show up at parent-teacher conferences drenched in sweat and acting like nothing was weird. After Dad and my stepmom Tammy moved to Arizona, they would go on these insane endurance runs in the desert. Dad coached track at nearly every high school where he taught, and they regularly competed in races and triathlons.
My brother, in turn, was a fantastic cross country runner in high school. Indeed, when he went to Macedonia to visit Dad and Tammy while they were teaching at the American High School, he competed in a race with no training, holding a beer and a cigarette the whole time, and still beat everyone! (Sorry if you didn't want this awesome fact revealed David!)
My sister didn't do the pure running thing as much, but she played volleyball throughout high school and into college. She recently had her second child, and went for a jog a few weeks after . . . a cool 2.5 miles without having run for nearly a year!!
Naturally, thinking I could cash in on this clear genetic advantage in our family, I joined the Lawrence Track Club when I was about seven. I quickly found out I was really no good at running, so I got into racewalking. Nope, I'm not joking. I did the sashay, I kept one foot in contact with the ground at all times . . . and I still sucked at it. Going into high school, I was always more "bookish" than athletic, but I still went out for Cross Country . . . twice . . . and never competed in an actual meet. I always had a sprained ankle, or didn't feel good, or thought my heart was going to explode during practice. Mostly I just want to carb-load the night before races and then not burn anything off. Poor Coach was always totally unsurprised when I quit each year.
So, when I decided I was going to do a sprint triathlon this fall, I knew running would be my challenge. Swimming? Fun! Biking? Cool breeze in my hair! Running? Sweating, legs hurting, failure. I started training in June (and am already a month behind schedule! Why do babies have to be so demanding all the time?) I started with very small runs, and would use a timer app on my phone to only record the time I was running. So, I might run/walk 45 minutes, but only get 14 minutes out of it in terms of running. I hadn't been having a whole lot of success, but I had been keeping it up. So, about a week ago, I decided to go for a walk after a glass of wine, on one of the hottest nights of the year so far. I really didn't think much would come of it. I strapped the baby into her jog stroller, lasso-ed the dog onto her leash, and set out for the high school track just across the street.
I decided to do a little running. I made it around the track jogging once, twice, three times, and suddenly I realized I was about to do a whole mile without stopping!! I felt like I could conquer the world, truly. This probably sounds absolutely silly to any self-respecting runner, but a mile for me could have been a marathon.
My observations on why I seem to be able to go longer now? Labor makes a big difference. I have been through one of the hardest endurance events I will ever face. Also, psychologically, when it gets hard to run, I can remind myself that I birthed a baby and felt every pain, and made it through! I can certainly keep running a little longer! Also, the jogging stroller helps keep my stride in check. Although the stroller and baby present extra resistance, I run a bit slower and at a more sustainable pace. All in all, I'm loving the new endurance, and, as with most things in life, having some success makes me want to do it more.