Hi Salts, Chicory here. For years, my social media bios have read, “Runner, Writer, Renegade.” When I came across Salty Running, I knew I had found kindred spirits. I’m honored and excited to become a part of the team.
This May marked my tenth year of running. When I started, I could not have imagined where it would lead. Running became so much more than a hobby for me — it is the biggest constant in my life over those 10 years, even when I was injured and not running as much.
I sporadically played sports in high school but never seriously; three years of varsity soccer and two years of track, where the coaches were such novices that they let me run the sprints. In college, I did no structured exercise for my first three semesters.
When I started running, I was 21 years old and married to a guy 14 years my senior. I had transferred from a big city school in the northeast back to my local state university. He had two children who lived with us full-time and I started running to be a good role model, but also to have something that was for me.
I started off with the couch-to-5k plan, mostly walking. One day, the schedule called for me to run two miles without stopping. This is not something I considered possible, until I did it. By the time the race rolled around, my goal was to run 30 minutes. This goal was largely arbitrary, a nice round number. I ran 27-something and was so impressed with myself I stuck around to see if I won an AG award in the 20-24 category. Ugh, I was so green.
Surprising to no one, my first marriage didn’t work out. By the time we divorced, I had run two marathons including Boston. I ran my first one 15 months after starting the couch-to-5k program and Boston four months after that. More importantly, the friends I had made through a training group were my family, my support system, the people who came over and hung out with me in my barely-furnished one-room apartment.
I wouldn’t describe it as a bad divorce, but there is still a grieving process to go through and a life to re-establish, and an identity to redefine. Running, though, was still part of my identity and a reminder that I was still me, regardless of name changes, address changes, career changes, whatever.
I went on to run four more marathons, lowering my marathon PR to 3:10:11 before incurring a stress fracture, a strained hamstring and another stress fracture, all pretty much concurrently. My quest to break three hours was suddenly off the rails.
I started dating my now-husband in 2010, in the midst of setting that PR and simultaneously being on the injured reserve. I changed jobs. I didn’t run much, and when I tried to run fast, my hamstring would flare up.
Running has taught me that even when you change, when your life changes, when you feel completely unmoored you’re still you. Running transcends those changes, and running is waiting for you when you’re ready.
In 2012, I was finally starting to come back. I ran a couple of not-as-fast-as-I-was marathons, then took a year away from the marathon to plan our wedding in 2014. After our engagement, we joined a gym to look good for the wedding, but more importantly, suddenly I found the motivation I had lost.
That led to a string of PRs in 2015 that has continued into 2016. I hired a coach in January 2016 with the explicit goal of breaking three hours and trying to reach the Olympic Trials qualifier for 2020.
I might not hit that goal, but I have the courage to try: courage and confidence that I found through running.
When I’m not running, I’m a director of development “making more possible” for our public library system. I teach Pilates a few times a week at my gym after becoming certified in January. I met my husband while I was working at a local running store; he’s a 3-time Ironman finisher and 3:06 marathoner. (Head-to-head battle coming this fall). We have no kids and no pets, with plans for the latter but not necessarily the former.
My best friends and my husband are all people I met through running. Running transcends, it supports, it connects. I look forward to connecting with the readers of Salty Running, sharing my journey and hopefully telling some good stories along the way.
How has running changed your life?