When Marlene Royle first suggested running as a substitute for on water training, trepidation sunk into the pit of my stomach. I think I may have sat there with my mouth gaping open like a stunned fish.
The Atlanta Olympics inspired 11-year-old me to go out for track and field. I wanted to be a hurdler. My Dad even built me hurdles to practice on–his mistake was asking me how tall they should be. On television they looked small, so he built them small. If I’d been practicing high knees, they would have been perfect, but at that age I didn’t know what high knees are, much less the height of hurdles.
Needless to say, I didn’t become a hurdler. Imagine what an elephant would look like jumping three feet in the air. That’s me! I did run track for six years, and lettered all four years in high school, with a focus on pole vault and 800 meters. That came with a cost, though. In my junior year I began to suffer from shin splints. By senior year, they were severe and chronic. My knees also began to act up and severely limited my ability to run 800 meters under 3:00. I had to focus more on pole vaulting simply because I couldn’t run the distance without severe pain. It was a disappointing end to my track and field experience.
I tried running from time to time as I grew older, but almost instantly, the shin splints would flare back up and my knees would look like swollen apples.
So when Marlene said running was better than cycling, you can understand my hesitation. I reminded myself that sacrifices would have to be made in training for the boat. Plus, she said it didn’t have to be fast, just long. I resolved to go out and just run and see what happened. If my legs acted up, I’d stop and that would be the end of it. I’d try something else.
I felt like an Olympian that first run, when I ran nonstop for 28 minutes. The only part of my body that ached was my quads–in that good sore kind of way. My knees stayed normal and so did my shins. I called Alan right away to tell him.
Today I ran for the third time. My mile splits have gone from 13:38 to 11:53! My first run was 2.12 miles. This morning I ran 31:46 and 2.67 miles. I’m not ready to race a cheetah (or maybe even an elephant) just yet, but I’m super pleased. I’m running again, and it’s pain free!
I can’t wait until I run my first 5k in 30 minutes. It feels absolutely within my reach.