To Marathon or Not to Marathon

After I completed my first half marathon in 2011, I knew I wanted to do more 13.1s in the future. Of course I was immediately asked by multiple people, “are you going to do a full?” My response was always that while I liked the idea of checking it off my bucket list, I had no desire to do a full marathon. It was too much of a time commitment to train and seemed scary. I was happy with half marathons as my maximum distance.

Something changed in me over the last year or so. I found myself toying with the idea of taking on the challenge of 26.2 miles. At least once a week I thought about marathoning, most often during a run. One minute I’d be totally ready to go for it, the next I would talk myself out of it. I annoyed myself too many times to count with my wishy-washyness.

A few months ago, a friend of mine who had recently completed her first marathon was in town. She came to my house to catch up and we inevitably talked running. She told me about her marathon experience and looked at me and said, “I really think you need to do it. Stop thinking, just do it”.

This wasn’t the only piece of advice I’d received on the matter, but for some reason I couldn’t get our conversation out of my head. I started really researching different races, thinking about timing and location issues, and reading dozens of race recaps from other runners. I dug up different training plans and looked into local training groups. I was still thinking – but at least I was thinking with more information at hand.

Yesterday morning, I finally bit the bullet. I’m proud to announce that I will running the Kiawah Island Marathon on December 13. There will be much more to come on why I chose this race, my training experiences, and ultimately my race recap on how my first (only?) 26.2 went. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I also feel some sense of peace that by the end of the year, I will be a marathoner.

Have any tips for a first timer? Comment or find me on Twitter: @AtlRnnr.

It's official: I'm registered for my first marathon!

It’s official: I’m registered for my first marathon!

Advertisements

That Time I Ran into Home

There’s nothing like running into home at an MLB stadium as a crowd cheers you on! Okay, so that’s not exactly what happened this weekend but my latest race experience was great fun for any baseball fan.

Saturday was the Braves Country 5K at Turner Field. The event boasts a fun course that starts just outside the stadium and eventually finishes on the field! Tickets to that evening’s game were included with each race entry, so it made for a day full of festivity.

A foggy view as we kicked off a very early tailgate

It was incredibly foggy that morning, but the real weather headline was that it was actually very pleasant for a June race in Atlanta! My boyfriend and I were thankful for the fairly cool temperatures. We were able to park quickly, pick up our race packets, and then take part in the earliest tailgate of our lives.

The course was fairly hilly and wound through Grant Park. The field was just under 2,000, so it was a good-sized group without being too crowded for a single-lane course. While there weren’t many spectators, the volunteers and police officers manning the route were in an especially cheery mood, which always makes for a good time. My favorite sight along the way was a man mowing his very steep front yard by sending the lawnmower down via rope and yanking it back up. A woman running next to me voiced the exact question going through my mind: “Is that really safe???” It was a great motivator to keep it moving!

An awesome ending to a fun race!

An awesome ending to a fun race!

At the end of the race, you entered the back of the stadium before turning onto the field and finishing behind home plate – does it get better than that?? I ended up finishing better than expected for a warm weather race – in fact, this was a new PR for me! I missed the first mile marker, so I was not able to hit my watch and get my splits, but I finished in 25:39 (8:16/mile pace).

I’m really glad I did this race since it offers such a unique experience – yes, even being a Mets fan. I’m even happier that I did it before the Braves move to Cobb County… but that is an entirely different sort of blog post 🙂

The boyfriend and me at the start line

The boyfriend and me at the start line

Tuesday Night at the Track

This week I decided to do something a little out of my comfort zone – I participated in a track meet! While I have no problem toeing the line for any distance between a 5K and a half marathon, a sprinter I am not. I got serious about running during my late-20s, so it’s not like I was ever a track athlete. Atlanta Track Club offers the All-Comers Track and Field Meets during May and June at Emory University’s track. For weeks I’ve been hearing a lot about how fun these events are, so I finally decided to try it out myself. I was pumped all day long… and then a nasty storm rolled into the area. After a delay, the event kicked off and I entered the scene – boyfriend in tow, in hopes that I wouldn’t look like the lonely old broad who didn’t know what she was doing.

Some of the younger runners taking on the 200m

Some of the younger runners taking on the 200m

As promised, these meets are for everyone (thus the name “All-Comers”). I saw participants as young as four years old and as seasoned as 75 years old; high school track athletes and former USA champions. I even overheard a woman say she had never run a day in her life before last night. It was AMAZING! Everyone was so supportive of each other. My boyfriend and I ended up doing the 200m, 800m, and mile events. It was a ton of fun, but it was definitely different from my usual routine! It’s hard to know how hard to push yourself when you’re used to going much longer distances. But I gave it my best shot and had a blast doing it! I think my favorite part of this whole experience was talking to so many different runners and hearing about their experiences. It was truly inspiring! I was especially touched by the little ones who were out there with their families. What a great way to start healthy habits! The moral of the story – don’t be afraid to try something new. There is still one more All-Comers meet left for the year – next Tuesday night. If you live in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend you check it out! It’s FREE – no excuses! Click here for details.

A tiny 4x4 relay participant

A tiny 4×4 relay participant

Happy National Running Day!

So after an unexpected hiatus, Cheery Running is back and on a very appropriate day… National Running Day! Whether you do a slow and steady mile or a fast and furious 10 miles, get out there!

Photo Credit: Jennie Coakley/Atlanta Track Club

Photo Credit: Jennie Coakley/Atlanta Track Club (I’m the one on the bottom right)

I started my day with a group run organized by Atlanta Track Club, of which I am a member. They put together three runs at different times/locations in hopes of accommodating as many people as possible. Conveniently, the morning run was right in my neighborhood, so that choice was a no-brainer. There were options for both a three and five mile course, water was provided, and I scored another Atlanta Track Club shirt! It was a great way to start the day – chatting with a dear friend (as well as some new ones) and enjoying a beautiful morning.

My bib from this morning

My bib from this morning – there is not enough room to explain all the reasons I run!

As part of National Running Day, you are encouraged to tell others why you run. Atlanta Track Club gave us “I Run ___” bibs to fill out and wear this morning. Mine is pictured here, but it couldn’t possibly contain all of the reasons I run. I run because it’s fun. I run because it is an inclusive sport and some of the most positive people I know are runners. I run because I like to challenge myself. I run because it is an addiction. I run because it makes me so incredibly happy.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to head out the door and RUN in honor of National Running Day! It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-timer – today could be the first day of a new chapter in your health and fitness! And if you can’t run today, there’s always tomorrow…