|Me and a giant ice cream cone, somewhere in Spain.|
I started running in junior high track and field, competing in the 800M and triple jump. I was never any good at either event -- thankfully, the track and field program followed an "everybody competes" philosophy or I'd have never participated. Nonetheless, the running bug was planted. Participating in track and field turned into my running on my own, usually in the Rocky Mountain foothills of my hometown, Ft. Collins, CO. I'd run from the Colorado State University football stadium at the base of the foothills and follow the trail up to the Aggies 'A' at the top, and then run back down. Looking back, I can see that the solitude of endurance sports was right for me even then, and I'd venture to say that I was the only 14-year-old in town that ran steep, switchback trails for fun.
While in college in Gainesville, FL, I found some great forest trails for hiking and running, and sometimes covered up to 10 miles at a time. When I couldn't make it out without my then-toddler, I'd load him up in the stroller to walk as long as he was content. One summer night, when there happened to be loads of lightning bugs to keep him entertained, we made eight complete trips on the one-mile down-and-back road we lived on.
My road running days started in graduate school. While my husband and I were dating we registered for our first road race, Track Shack's Watermelon 5K, held each 4th of July in Orlando, FL. It was a blast, and after one race I was hooked. The mileage and race goals steadily increased, and I ran my first half marathon, the OUC Half in Orlando, in December 2004. I ran 1:59 and change, meeting my sub-two hour goal. My bib number was 262, and if you throw a decimal point in there (i.e. 26.2), one might say it was a sign of things to come. My first marathon was the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, where I ran 4:34:34. I trained through the spring with Track Shack's Marathonfest group, which was one of the greatest training experiences I've encountered. Marine Corp 2005 still holds as my marathon PR, as well as my favorite marathon to date.
I bought a road bike and completed an Olympic distance tri in 2006 with an abysmal time. I didn't train for the swim at all (I literally did not swim in my training), and the effort to complete the swim zonked my energy stores reserved for the bike and run. Lesson learned. I didn't complete another tri for a number of years but I continued to run and bike. The desire to give triathlon another shot was inspired by my aunt, who amped up her training and competed in her first Ironman event (IM Canada, back with it was in Penticton, BC) a few years ago. I gave triathlon another shot in 2012, completing a sprint and an Olympic. With my courage boosted, I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Miami. I trained as consistently as I could with a demanding work and travel schedule, but when I ended up traveling every week for over a month leading up to the race my training went kaput. I bailed from the race. In 2013 I returned with a vengeance, determined to start and complete Miami.