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Commonly Asked Question…

When people hear that you are training for __________ (fill in the name of a race), they often ask: “What is your favorite running route (or bike route or swim)?”  My answer is usually the same…. Any place that has great scenery to look at or running with someone – family, friend, stranger.

To answer the question more specifically, I do have a few favorite runs.

2004 (maybe) – Remember, before I started training for the Disney Marathon, I hadn’t run many road races, however, one of the few I had run was the Gate River Run.  If you’re not a Jacksonville native or 15k phenom (it’s the 15k National Championship), there’s a chance you’ve never heard of it.  It is a great race through some scenic parts of Jacksonville.  The crowds are absolutely fantastic, as most are having lawn parties (with mimosas – yes I was jealous) to cheer on the runners.  Well in 2004, I ran this race with my Daddy.  It was the first time he had ever run any distance, let alone a 15k.  Really, I think this was the first time he actually experienced the health benefits of exercise which I believe changed his life.

The race day was pretty typical for March in Florida – humid, hot, and humid.  He and I were both so excited.  I was probably much more excited than he was, as I think he was a little nervous.  We started the race together before he left me in his dust.  I was not anywhere close to trained and he had been running every day.  His goal was to run the race in double his age.  That would’ve been 110 minutes.  There is no way I would slow him down.  Long story short, he did finish in his goal time and I was closely behind him.  I loved this run because it was with my Daddy!

January 2010 – Obviously, the Disney Marathon when CPC and I “ran into love”!

September 2012 – CPC and I were in Wisconsin for my uncle’s wedding.  The weather was gloriously chilly (well chilly for Florida standards) and the leaves were beautiful shades of gold.  CPC and I found this running path that started at my Grandma’s and continued to Main Street – in a town with a population of 25,000 it’s not hard to find a route like this.  The path went along a descent sized creek.  CPC and I would run it daily.  Each day we would see something new – a deer, some rabbits, but every day the scenery would take my breath away.  Beautiful blue sky.  Golden leaves on the white barked trees.  Golden rods blooming in the fields.  The babble of the creek as you crossed the foot bridges.  And the slight glimpse of the wild life.  These are the days that you know God just smiled down on us.  Still one of my favorites to this day.

I guess the really short answer to the question is… “Any run I get to do with those that I care about!” 

Every run I learn something new about myself and every run I try to appreciate my ability to be physically active.

From the beginning…

So now what you’re thinking is, “How did this love of life come about because of a bucket list”?  Let’s go back to my “younger years”, my early 20’s to be precise (well as precise as you’re going to get).  I started making a bucket list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30.  You know things that most people would put on a bucket list…. backpack Europe with a “stranger” – check; learn to cook something new – check, check, check; run a marathon… Hold up… Did you say run a marathon? Uh no!  Not on my bucket list.  Well remember I said I was in my early 20’s, why wouldn’t this sound like a great idea; I mean I’d run exactly 4 road races in my life at that point – none of which without stopping for a walk break.

Let’s fast forward a few years and I just turned 29 … It’s now or never.  At this point too many people knew about the bucket list not to do it, so I go to my local chapter of Team In Training, because, let’s face it, it’s always better to have others who can enjoy “the suck” with you.  And I agree to raise money for those battling blood cancer while training for my first marathon, sounds better than simply crossing off a bucket list item.

I show up at the orientation in awe of about 30 people who all have the same goal, running a marathon – the Disney Marathon to be exact.  I meet our team leaders and a very charming young man who from now on will be referred to as “Coach Prince Charming” (or CPC for short) after all he was our running coach for the Disney marathon.  After the hoopla of the meeting was over I kindly told CPC that I was ready to “do this”.  He asked how many half marathons I had run.  I quickly replied “zero”.  He was slightly perplexed and asked how many road races I had done. To which I replied “four but none over a 15k”. At this point his perplexed look turned to a look of horror as he realized he had his work cut out for him.

Let’s fast forward through the 6ish months of training where I learned a lot about love of myself and the love of the solidarity of training long runs.  Your “inner me” can get pretty loud when you’re running 15, 16, 20+ miles alone.  There are things that you wish you never said to yourself and times when you are your biggest fan.  I also learned that I LOVED training with a group.  Miles go by much faster when you have someone to “share the suck” with.

So it’s race day…. It’s a very warm freezing day in Florida – 34 degrees to be exact.  It’s January 2010.  I got up at about 3:00 am to prepare for the day I had trained for, for the last 6 months.  My teammates surrounded me, CPC was there and we all made our way to the start line for the 5:30 am start.  The 26.2 miles of the Disney Marathon winds it’s way through the Disney World parks.  At mile 13 I had a surprise “fan” – one of my college friends!  It was so great to see her even if it was for a few seconds.  I saw my family at mile 18.  At mile 20 (the true half way for a marathon runner) I picked up CPC.  To this day he will say I was the last Team In Training member on course so he had to finish with me… I remember it a bit differently, but this is the first time that I felt that something different for CPC… a little spark if you will.  I literally spent the last 6.2 miles running into love, with CPC. I crossed the finish line and met up with my family; it was a fantastic feeling and one I will do again.

One would imagine that the rest would be history, but that was not the case…. In fact our first date wasn’t for another 7 months when I stood him up for the birth of my nephew, but a few days later the rest was history.  History in that I found “my person”, I found a love of endurance sports, I found a love of competition, I found a love of life and most importantly – I found out I LOVE finding myself!