Some runners magically begin running in their teens, and continue throughout college, high school and life. Others begin with other sports and can convert to running over time. Then, there are people like myself, who fall into running out of necessity, and then they continue because they really enjoy the camaraderie and competition.
My entry into running stemmed from two events: First was seeing a picture of myself in a bathing suit (probably leaning backwards) with a bit of a gut. This led to eating more healthily and walking or biking short distances instead of driving. Second was watching my sister run the Big Sur Marathon, then trying to run the last 0.2 miles with her and exhausting myself.
My sister suggested that I could run a marathon, if I put my mind to it. But, since I knew little of training (not a lot of programs in those days), I just ran a few days a week, did progressively longer races (5K in September 1996, 12K and Half Marathon in October, 10K in November) and hoped for the best.
On December 8, 1996, I ran the California International (CIM) (in Sacramento) Marathon. Despite never running further than 13.1 miles (and running my first half split faster than my only half marathon), I finished in 4:46:41, a few minutes under the time limit of 5 hours.
To celebrate the 10 years of marathons, I decided to run CIM to commemorate this anniversary. Maybe in an attempt to duplicate my feat from a decade before, I did VERY little training. Truthfully, this was due to a combination of getting sick and recovering from a 50- mile trail race 8 weeks prior.
The result was my fastest first half and worst second half of a marathon, but my fastest CIM. For a ten-year period, I completed 18 marathons, averaging 4:12, plus 17 ultras, and approximately 450 other races.
Just out of curiosity, I decided to look at the differences in time, body, and spirit from 10 years ago:
In 1996, my mental state was good. I was happy, but tired a lot and preferred to watch TV, than anything else. Today, I thrive on little sleep, and love to run, especially with friends (Hash or AREC).
In 1996, I ran decent times (5K – 28:30, Half – 2:08:22, Full – 4:46), but today my personal bests are much better (5K – 20:05, Half – 1:32:31, Full – 3:36).
My endurance is crazy (who’d a thunk I’d run 50 miles, much less 6 miles?), and I’m always dreaming up different courses to challenge myself and others. My non-running friends don’t understand at all.
In 1996, my friends told me I was heading down the road to Fatville and Fatigue, but I’m not certain that running stops that process. In 1998, a friend did the caliper body fat method on me, and measured 19% (16% is healthy, 12% ideal). After Christmas 2006, I had both the caliper method and full immersion method done, and the average was 22%. The diagnosis is that I need to convert 25 pounds of fat to muscle.
My goal for 2007 (and the next 10 years of marathoning/running) is to intersperse some strength training in with the running. This is good both for my health and makes running that much easier.