5 of My Proudest Running Moments

I’ve been working on my About page, not that you can tell from its current iteration. It’s pretty pathetic, I realize. I do know that now that we’re going places with this site that perhaps you’d like to get to know the woman behind the curtain. With that in mind, I decided to skip the “5 Lessons from Octomom*” post I had in mind for today and instead tell you about 5 of the best moments of my running career so far. Pour yourself another cup o’ joe because this is a long one!

Under-performing in high school

1. Finally Becoming a Runner. I ran in high school for a couple of years. Never amounted to much. My cross-country PR was 22:04 and my track mile was 6:00.02. Despite my utter mediocrity as a high school athlete I LOVED running and pushing myself in training and even long after I hung up the trainers I would look at runners I passed on the road in my car and feel they were in my tribe. I always knew deep down I was a runner even when I was dating DJ’s in NYC and leaving clubs in the daylight or living the sedentary life of a nose-to-the-books law student.

I had a few bursts of running between 1993 and 2004, but nothing lasting longer than a couple of months. Finally, after taking the bar exam I laced up my shoes and began my running renaissance. I remember the date, August 1, 2004. I was so out-of-shape it was embarrassing. I found a short stretch of bridle trail that hardly anyone ever used and I mixed walking and jogging intervals. I started with walking 2:00 and running 1:00 for 30 minutes. Every week I’d shorten the walking or lengthen the jogging and by mid-October I was in shape enough to run the entire 30 minutes without a break. Sticking with it, through the embarrassment, the frustration and the tediousness is to this day one of the things I am most proud of myself for doing.

"Blazing" through mile 23 of my first marathon in about 7:40 to negative split. Only time I've done it so far!

2. Finishing My First Marathon. After all that I was so happy to be a runner and before long I was treadmill queen of the office gym. I could crank out 6 miles as fast as I could every day and I have to say I felt AMAZING for it! I felt like I was the fastest chick on the planet!

Then I met my now-husband. He let me down easy. At that time he was heavy into his own running career and training with two of the fastest chicks in town. Basically, he told me my treadmill antics were stupid and that I was going to hurt myself if I didn’t tone it down a notch. I didn’t listen to him and by the fall of 2005, when I was in NYC for one last law school hurrah, I ended up broken down on the West Side Highway with a po’d IT band.

While I was on the DL, my now-husband came to NYC and ran the marathon. He trained his booty off for the race and it was one of the most amazing experiences to witness his PR marathon on a hot day in Central Park. That’s when I decided I was going for it: when I fixed my IT Band I was going to become a marathoner.

I started training for my first half-marathon after the 2006 new year. My now-husband was my coach and he’d send me my training plan each week.  I accepted my 9:00 easy pace and was much happier for it. It was a fun way to bond over the long distance and a way to share something we both loved. That spring I averaged about 45 miles a week and did my first track workouts. A week after I graduated with my last degree I ran my first half running way better than I expected in 1:38:48. This was close to my 5k high school pr pace!  At this point I realized that I might be a more talented runner than I thought and my now-husband did too.  He was cautious, but said that I could definitely qualify for Boston if I could get a solid 5 months of marathon training under my belt. So I did.

Over the hot summer I logged 50-60 mile weeks and ran longer than I ever dreamed I could. I loved everything about marathon training. It was an escape from the stressful transitional time in my life. Over the course of that summer I blew my own mind running under 7:00 pace for a road race for the first time ever, running 34:57 for 5 miles, 1:11:48 for 10 miles and a new half PR of 1:35:11. At this point I KNEW I could not only BQ, but I could blow the 3:40 BQ out of the water. Everyone I talked to cautioned me against racing my first marathon, but I knew I could do it. Since it was my first I added 5 minutes to the online performance predictors and went for it. And I did it! In October of 2006 I ran 3:25:31 for my first full marathon!

3. Breaking 1:30 in the Half Marathon for the First Time. Once I finished my marathon with the huge BQ I started to chase down new milestones. I broke 20:00 for the 5k for the first time. I attempted a sub-1:30 with the flu in New Orleans and failed coming in with a 1:31:57, a big PR. In April of 2007 I ran a new PR marathon at Boston: 3:18:09 although it was torturous and not a negative split. I was greedy and went for a 3:12 and learned a valuable lesson about biting off more than I could chew with my marathon goals (although you might not know it from my subsequent performances, but that’s for another post!)

5 weeks after Boston, in May 2007 I gave the sub-1:30 half another go. I think this might have been my all time best race. I ran right on pace through mile 10 even though that pace felt a little nuts for a little while starting around mile 4. Once I made it to mile 10 I did a gut check and realized I actually felt good so I dropped the (relative) hammer and made up another minute over the last 5k coming in with a 1:28:38! I was STOKED! At the time a sub-1:30 felt like the big time!

Finishing this relay might have felt better than breaking tape!

4. Speed Bumps Relay. I trained super hard after the sub-1:30 hoping I’d gain some fitness and maybe be able to make a sub-3 attempt in the marathon in the fall of 2007. But despite running crazy miles (70’s, 80’s and a brief trip to 91) I didn’t quite gain the fitness I needed. I went for a low 3:0x, but came up short again with a disappointing PR 3:10:15 in October 2007. This time due to nerves as I felt like it was my only shot to do something special with the marathon because I was getting married 3 weeks later and we wanted to start a family.

And that’s more or less what I did. I became pregnant in the spring of 2008 and was invited to run the Akron Marathon as a local elite. I was so overwhelmed at the thought that anyone would want little ol’ me to run as an “elite” that I had to figure out a way to participate even though a full marathon would not be in the cards for me at 7.5 months pregnant at the end of September 2008!

So, I wracked my brain and I thought how cool would it be to get 4 other pregnant chicks and field an all pregnant person relay. So I put the word out and found a couple of friends and a couple of friends of friends and the Speed Bumps were formed! We did newspaper and radio interviews and I’m in the 2009 Akron Marathon promo video bouncing along Market St. Of course I was just a teeny bit competitive and when we were on pace for about a 4:03 when I got my hand-off I had to up the ante and get us in under 4 hours! I ran somewhere faster than 9:00 pace for my 7.9 miles and my husband ran the last 2 or so with me. It was an amazing experience!

My pacer, daughter (speck under the bib) and me.

5. Winning a Marathon While Pregnant. My son was born at the end of November in 2008 and I worked hard to get back into shape after gaining 50 or so pounds. I managed to match my then-5k PR and almost match my then-5 mile PR by the summer of 2009. I also decided that 2009 was going to be my year to do the Akron Marathon, but when I lined up to race something felt off. I had a miserable experience and didn’t want a death march just to finish a marathon so I dropped out–my only DNF to this day. It was a tough decision, but I figured if I dropped out I could make another go at it in a few weeks at a small local marathon.

So on October 11, 2009 that’s what I did (wow! Rereading the race report brought tears to my eyes). But this time my husband signed up to to run with me and he ordered me to put tape over my watch so I wouldn’t sweat my splits. I had no idea what pace I was running, but I was winning from about mile 6 on so I really didn’t care. Around mile 21 my husband had to bail with calf cramps so I soldiered on alone and I felt pretty good. I thought for sure I was close to a PR, but I took the tape off around mile 24 and could not believe I was running 8:00 pace! GAH! But I felt relatively good. What the heck? I didn’t sweat it too much as I knew I could win if I just plodded along and finished and I did. I won! (This is the same marathon Predawn Runner won, but he wasn’t pregnant when he did it). But I couldn’t figure out how on earth I averaged 7:30 pace when it felt like 7:10. Well, a week later it all made sense when I saw the pink line. Pregnant with baby number 2!

*Joking! …or am I?

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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7 comments

  1. Your #1 is a blast from the past. I knew you at the start! Yep, in H.S. we weren’t superstars. Our times WERE mediocre, but our competitiveness was anything but mediocre. I don’t dwell on the past much but, here is my H.S track practice flashback of you, Salty! (1 mile…piece of cake???) 1st lap, I have you beat. 2nd lap, I’m still winning!!!! 3rd lap, we are neck and neck. It is a toss-up. 4th lap, I hit THE WALL (middle-distance runner curse). You leave me in the dust-CINDER dust to be exact. Yet you wait at the finish line to cheer me on, good friend, teammate and FIERCE competitor! Nice to see that you have not changed!!!!
    P.S. I am sure that the cinder track held us both back in H.S. In college, I ran on all-weather tracks….BIG difference!
    Love from Cincinnati-Heidi

    1. Thanks, Heidi!

      Oh yes. The cinder track! Hey KP ran like a world record 400 on the track so don’t knock it!

      As for those races, I just sat on you the whole time and waited for you to die. It was all part of my master plan! (kidding!) If you would’ve run XC you would have easily kicked my sorry butt in all distances!

      All I know is that I took myself WAY too seriously in high school and had no concept of how to race or train or anything. I could race my teammates in practice, but when it came time to a real competition I didn’t get it. Running is so much more enjoyable now that I know (sort of, anyway) what I’m doing!

      Lastly, I didn’t know you ran in college! I’m jealous! One of those things I might regret not doing. You’ll have to catch me up on your post-cinder track running career one of these days!

  2. First of all, great post. Second, as I read through this, I remembered many of these milestones from the old CoolRunner days and then of course following your personal blog. Very fun. I look forward to seeing what is next for you.

    1. Mindi, as I was writing this post I was taken back to our CR times too. Every running milestone is an achievement, but I think it’s those big firsts that always mean the most!

  3. Nice summary of a good career, with a lot more potential still ahead. And no, I wasn’t pregnant, but I think our lessons from the Towpath are the same, keeping it relaxed (by not looking at the watch in your case, by having full confidence in my pace and abilities in mine) can lead to victory.
    And now this will make it a lot easier for me to craft my questions for you, so I’m glad I got busy and had to wait.

    1. I think you’d make national news if you won a marathon while pregnant! I’m looking forward to my big-time, hard-hitting interview :)