November 13, 2018 will be my 15-year runnaversary. It has been 15 years since I ran my first race, a 5k, in Wilmington, Delaware called E-racing the Blues. I came in third in my (45-49 year) age group and was instantly hooked on racing.
As a novice racer, I was unsure whether to pin my bib on the front or the back of my body. A kind, more experienced racer advised me to pin it on the front (“It’s not a rodeo.”) I didn’t know whether there would be bathroom facilities at the race start, so I asked my hubby, who was driving, to stop at a Dunkin Donuts before we got to Wilmington. Bill was my driver and support system for that first race, but it wasn’t long before he began racing too.
My youngest son had left for college two months before the race, and I was at loose ends, unsure what to do with my spare time. I had spent years attending the soccer and tennis matches, wrestling meets, and baseball and football games of my three sons. When you add in time spent shuttling them to practices, participating in fundraisers, and attending academic activities, I had a big hole to fill. I moped around a lot that fall.
I had been running for 15 years by the time I ran my first race, at first by myself or with my oldest son Ryan, when I could cajole him to come out with me. When Ryan left for college, I got a running partner, a woman who played on the same volleyball team as me, and we would run the same 3-mile loop around town several times a week, talking the whole time.
When my partner got injured and stopped running, I varied the route and increased my distances, sometimes even running twice in one day, just because I loved the way it made me feel – clean, strong and accomplished. But I still didn’t feel the need to race until my nest was completely empty.
After I started racing, I began widening my circle of running friends. This, for me, was the best part of running. I joined the Lancaster (PA) Road Runners Club (we do trail runs, too), a group I have found to be welcoming, informative, and just plain fun.
Some of my running friends began inviting Bill and me to travel to races. The picture above shows a group of us before the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington D.C. We had done Ukrop’s 10k in Richmond, VA on Saturday (where Bill PR’d), then the Cherry Blossom on Sunday (where he PR’d again!)
This picture is from a trip we took to South Dakota, which is surprisingly beautiful, by the way, to run an all-women’s marathon, Leading Ladies’. The woman in the cowboy hat is the race director, a feisty, funny and generous person, Elaine Doll-Dunn. I think the five of us laughed the entire trip, including when someone tried to break into our hotel room at 2:00 a.m. We called ourselves “The Good Girls in the Badlands“.
Here are my stats from the past 15 years. I have run
- 1 two-mile race
- 83 five Ks
- 1 six K
- 4 four-milers
- 30 five-milers
- 32 10Ks
- 6 seven-milers
- 1 14K
- 5 15Ks
- 21 10-milers
- 1 20K
- 51 half marathons
- 5 25Ks
- 2 metric marathons (26.2K)
- 1 20-miler
- 26 full marathons
- 1 50K
- 3 three-hour timed races
- 3 six-hour timed races
- 1 marathon relay
- 1 50-mile relay
- 1 24-hour relay
- 1 triathlon
What these statistics don’t show are the wonderful memories I have had over the last 15 years, the close friendships I have formed, the moments of triumph and wonder I have lived because I began racing. They don’t show all the little hills I have gritted my teeth and run up over the years, and the big ones, too. They don’t show the beautiful canyons I have run through, the waterfalls, or the ice-covered streams.
The finish lines of the races I ran have seen me holding hands with Bill, raising my arms overhead in exultation, and shedding tears of exhaustion. I would not trade it for the world.
I hope I get to race for another 15 years!
I am linking up with Fairytales and Fitness for Friday 5, Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for Coaches’ Corner linkup, Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Shank You Very Much for Dream Team.