As a continuation of our How I Got Into Running series, I would like to share my story on how I went from fearing a 4-mile run to racing in triathlons. I began running after college with a little push and inspiration from my mom. More recently developing an overall passion for living a clean and active lifestyle, I consider running a key piece of my holistic approach to staying fit.
Do First Impressions Matter?
I had my first taste of running freshman year of high school during the dreaded spring quarter “four mile unit.” Rumor had it if you weren’t able to complete the four miles by the time the class bell rang, you would fail PE. Yikes! I worked up to those 16 monotonous laps around the track, however after our final test I swore off running altogether. I had other activities that kept me in shape that I actually enjoyed doing, so why run? You could say it didn’t exactly make the best first impression.
College Gym Rat
Fast forward to my college years. Determined not to gain the infamous “freshman 15,” I learned to love going to the campus gym daily. My hour and a half routine started off on the elliptical, then I’d throw in some weights, stretching, sit ups, and end my workout walking at a quick pace uphill on the treadmill. But I never ran. Why? The bad impression running made on me in high school lingered, and the thought of losing my footing on the rotating belt and falling flat on my face was a constant fear in the back of my mind.
My First 5K
Ultimately it took setting a big goal to change my outlook on running. I was only a year out of college when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully she caught it early and a mastectomy, along with ongoing treatment, helped her beat the same disease that took her own mother at the very same age. To celebrate her life and support other women going through the same struggle, my mom decided to organize a team to participate in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Race for the Cure. She asked if I would join the team and walk with her. But instead of walking, I choose to RUN.
Why did my outlook on running change so suddenly? I thought if my mom had just battled and overcome breast cancer, I could certainly train to run a 5k. I felt so proud after completing the race that I signed up for six more local races that year, encouraging a new friend to run with me each time.
A Rookie Triathlete Is Born
My new found passion for participating in road races didn’t end with running. I soon joined the rest of my family and took up cycling. My dad, brother and I trained together for the 204-mile Group Health Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic – also known as the STP – last year. My mom drove the route acting as our sweep vehicle (luckily her services weren’t needed). You could say it was a family affair!
After the STP I decided to take my new cycling and running skills one step further and signed up for my first triathlon. I swam through high school, so I decided my ultimate goal would be to combine all three sports. I added the pool to my running and bike training in preparation for the Trek Women Triathlon Series (the same folks who produce the Danskin Triathlon Series).
It was exhilarating to see how far I could push my body. I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I finished the race 5th in my age group and 69th overall and couldn’t have been more proud – although I’m sure I could have shaved down my transition times! I plan to enter at least two more sprint triathlons this summer with the goal of beating my time.
Looking back on my transformation from casual gym-goer to rookie triathlete is quite amazing. With setting a few small goals I was able to push myself beyond my comfort zone and find personal fulfillment and pride in sports I never previously had. I now plan to run, cycle and swim for the rest of my life.