It all started when I was well into my journey of losing weight and being active. I was down nearly 100 pounds, and I had a friend ask me to run the Fargo 5K with them in May 2010. I made the mistake of not actually training FOR it. Sure, I kept up with the elliptical, strength training, spinning, etc. However, it was only 1 week before the race when the friend said “Let’s go on a training run!” Uh, sure.
Yeah, that was brutal. She constantly had to jog in place next to me as I panted like a bulldog. I was dying. Like what? I was in great shape, how was this running thing SO. HARD. How?????
So, I went into the race freaking out in my mind. I told the friend to run her own race (she was a sub-30 minute 5K runner at the time). The race started, my mind turned off (thankfully) and I went with the flow of the other runners (the Fargo 5K is a pretty big race). I remember likening it to playing a Mario Brothers game, or maybe like Frogger. You were constantly dodging people, running around them, having people stop RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME…and I had no experience so it was one hell of an adrenaline rush from the start. I kept a steady clip even though my lungs rebelled. About 2.75 miles into the race, I wanted to stop to walk, when this man on the side of the road with bagpipes…says “Well, ya can’t walk now! You’re almost there!”
So I kept going. I crossed that finish line. I felt like I was going to puke. I felt horrible. And then, the volunteer put that medal around my neck, and I was hooked. I finished that 5K in 36:45. I didn’t realize at the time just how good that was for a first race with NO training… and I wish I had a picture of that moment to share with you, but I don’t. Instead, I have pictures of the rest of my racing journey to share. Not every one, mind you, but I was determined to keep going. 5K? Check. I had to do another, the Firecracker 5K:
And then I escalated my training until, 6 months later, I ran my first half marathon in October 2010 (Fargo Mini Marathon). That ended up being my best trained race ever. I missed maybe one smaller training run, and all the hard work showed with a PR of 2:17. I ran the entire race until about the last mile…and then someone I had been pacing with noticed me struggling. She pushed me. Hard. And told me something that sticks with me to this day “If I can fight breast cancer, you can finish this race strong!” And so I did. We crossed that line together…and I ran into some members of the running group I had joined in the meantime, the Red River Runners. Those pictured are Brian Gregoire and Jim Lindlauf (who I would eventually be a trainer of new runners with).
That same month, I finally got my sub-30 5K race and third in my age group with a time of 29:15!!! And yup, that Bondi Band says it all.
The following May, I ran the Go Far Challenge for the Fargo race weekend with a 5K and then the half marathon the morning after, hence the 3 medals! I do it all for the bling…And here is the picture with the Red River Runners the following week.
I then battled a couple injuries and a bit of a running burnout, but then jumped in as an alternate runner in a relay race, the inaugural Highway 81-on-81 relay. I knew Jason and Tasha, but the other runners were new to me. We each had to run 2 legs on a highway, and were in Sheri’s Jeep…it didn’t smell the best at the end. A lot of wonderful memories of that race including soggy pizza (she had a pizza maker with) and my ultimate battle scar, my first toenail lost to running…all because I did what no runner should EVER do: Forget your running shoes. The shoes I am wearing in the picture are 1.5 sizes TOO small and without my orthotics. I was hurting, but the adrenaline plus the tequila shot at the end made it better. Yes yes, get mad at the unpurchased picture, but it’s the only one I have. And I want to take a moment for a shout out to please, please, please bring the relay back!!!! I’m talking you to, Mark Knutson (race director for the Fargo race weekend).
Instead of going in a linear timeline, I will now veer off to clusters. I met a wonderful group of women through Sparkpeople, a website of people on their own weight loss journeys. I stayed with Paula and met her friend, Kristi, along with the other girls, Rebecca, Becky, and Esther. We had a blast for Paula’s birthday weekend, culminating in what turned out to be a race I strive to run EVERY year, the Get Lucky 7K. I have missed only 1 year, and I’ll post a picture of each year from the first to last in order (I’m in the pink in the first):
I continued to run the Fargo races every May, missing a few years with injuries/surgeries, and Kaylee started running the youth run!
After a few years of volunteering for the Grand Forks Wild Hog races (handing out medals), I started running that one as well, and including Kaylee:
In between it all, in October 2012, I trainer for and ran the Twin Cities Marathon with my running partner, TJ Zyskowski. That…I will write more in depth in another blog because so much went into that race. All the joy, the pain, the struggles, the triumph.
And with that, I was taken out by a nagging ankle injury that ended up being more than I expected to recover from. This coming up year, I am training for a multitude of other races that include the usual races (Fargo, Wild Hog, Get Lucky) and new ones (Chicago, St. Paul HM Relay, Vegas). I am excited!
The journey continues, and it isn’t ending any time soon. *sigh* It was fun going through all these memories. I hope you enjoy!