Finding ME!

Finding ME!

Tina (L) and Debby

by Tina J.

I have always thought of myself as a strong person. I think you have to be to move six times in a marriage. But, there came a moment in my life, about two years ago, that made me question my inner strength. That was the moment when I decided that I need to focus on me so I could find the person that got lost in being a wife and mom. I decided to go back to school to get my Master’s in Education and began that process September 2009.

Nine months later, on Monday, June 14, 2010, the day of my last class, I woke up realizing that I had accomplished so much in those nine months, but I still was neither satisfied nor happy. I then decided I wanted to be a runner. Of course, I had thought that many times before, but there was something different instilled in me this time. So, that was the same morning I thought, “I CAN and WILL be a runner!”

I was off and running that morning! I looked at a long sidewalk that was maybe a quarter of a mile long and set my goal to make it to the end without stopping. I did and I started walking and doing a little jogging when I felt I could. I kept this up for a few weeks, each time setting a longer distance. On July 12th,four weeks after I started this process, I reached 3 miles of continuous running. I was officially hooked!

A dear friend of mine in California told me I should enter a 5K and I thought, “No way am I running a race!” But she encouraged me to at least try it. I registered for my first race for August 28th in Aurora. I made sure it was far enough from people I knew. I refused to let my family come to it just in case I made a total fool of myself. I came in at 28:51, which I had no clue if that was good, bad, or decent and I didn’t really care. I knew now I had a time and a goal to beat for my next race. I ran my next on September 11 and allowed my husband and his mother to come watch. I cut 10 seconds off my time and was thrilled to place third in my age group. And no, there were not just three women in my age category as my daughter so nicely asked! I went on to run a few more 5K’s before my left hip started hurting so bad that I could not run. Hence the reason for stretching, which I did not do!

I thought I was done for good at that point. I started seeing a Chiropractor who did ART treatments and massages. For the next three months I swam five days a week, but really missed running. In early March I was back up and running 3 miles again. I signed up for a 5K in April and May and a 10K for the first week of June, but my ultimate goals for the year were to complete a sprint triathlon and to run a half marathon.

I found out about Experience Triathlon Coaching Services when I went to Spokes in March to buy a road bike. I spoke with Coach Suzy on the phone and joined the running group in mid-May. She gave me all the insight I needed to complete my first triathlon at the Naperville SheRox event. I then joined Suzy’s half-marathon training class. Each week became more and more challenging. There were weeks that I really questioned whether I could truly do this. One week I felt like crap and then the next week I felt great!  After one of my longest training runs, it felt so good I finally realized I could run a half marathon.  But the week before the big race I began doubting myself again. That last Saturday long run, a week before the race, was the best I had ever run. I then knew for sure that I WAS ready and that I COULD do it!

On Sunday morning, August 14, fourteen months to the day that I began running, I set out at 3:45 am for Chicago for the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. I was very excited, but as soon as I got in my corral, the nerves began to hit. I thought of Suzy and what she had texted me that morning: “Have a great race, but most importantly, have FUN!” I took some deep breaths and began my run. I felt great as I came up on the 5K mile marker and it continued when I got to the 10K mile marker. As I reached the mid point in the race the band was playing Sweet Home Alabama. I got chills thinking it was MY song! That was all I needed to keep me going. Each mile from there I continued to feel like a true runner. As I was approaching the finish line, the emotions began to hit me hard. I did it! I am a runner!

Thank you, Coach Suzy, I could not have done it without you!

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