Kate and the Year of the Half Marathon

This year, I’m going to do half marathons.

Well, I’ll do other stuff too, but the focus is the half marathon. It’s a middle distance race that’s just out of my comfort zone. I have no interest in marathons. Too many variables, too much training time. 5Ks and 10Ks are great, but they don’t feel like the Monumental Accomplishment that I like my goals to be. So I settled on the half marathon.

Who Am I?
I’m Kate. I’m a runner, a hockey player, a pet owner, a web developer and someone who wants to be Really Good at whatever I decide do. I’m stubborn, caring, like to make and eat good food, and I got my degree in elementary education. I’m a native of the DC area, growing up in Kensington, but living in Prince George’s County since 2006. I’ve lived in all three jurisdictions, even venturing into the hinterlands of Alexandria, VA for three years. I went to the University of Maryland, spending four years as a trumpet player in the marching and jazz bands. I’ve been a runner since 2010, but an athlete all my life. Soccer, softball, baseball, gymnastics, basketball, field hockey, and now street hockey (don’t ask me to skate!), I’ve been involved in team sports since I was seven. These days, I play hockey and softball. I even tried out for the ball/street hockey national team in 2005.

How did I get here?
So. Running. That’s what I’m here to talk about. I was never a runner before 2010. Shin splints got me every time I tried. I still remember my first bout with them: I was 15 and playing my first season of field hockey. It was horrible, just awful pain. And it’s not like you can massage under your shins very well. I did make it past the pain that season, but it was very hard for a few weeks. As I got older and tried to run, I didn’t realize that shin splints are an injury I could work through if I did it right. I always hit the wall at the massive shin splint pain and quit.

Fast forward to late 2009. I was sitting at a weak 180 pounds, and it bothered me I didn’t have the endurance to play hockey as hard as I used to. I got winded on the stairs. It was stupid. One evening, I thought it might be fun to do a triathlon. “I’m not scared of the water,” I told myself. “And biking is fun. But running? I’d have to slog through that part.”

I’m the kind of person who has a ton of ideas and almost none of them come to fruition. But the ones that do? Look out. You can’t stop me from a goal once I commit to it.

In March 2010, I started my triathlon adventure. I signed up for swim classes, and started riding. I consciously avoided running, though I did pick up a pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSOs. I kept my head in the sand on the running, only going out once a week or so until I saw a flier about PGRC’s Running Start program. I signed up, ran my mile time trial in 10:50. I did it without stopping, which shocked me at the time.

Running Start was great. I committed to something, which meant I would show up and do the best I could. On the very first day, I met people who would become my friends and training partners. That doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and ponies. It was hard, my shins hurt, and the track workouts were so boring. Despite all the negatives, I knew I found something I could work at and enjoy.

Still, I was doing this for a triathlon, and the triathlon was in October. I had done a few road races, a swim+run event, and many, but not really enough, hours of training. Standing on the edge of an inlet south of Ocean City in a wetsuit, I asked myself what on earth I was thinking. In the water I had my requisite panic attack, then convinced myself to doggy paddle my way through. I had paid $85 for this “privilege,” so I better keep going. And I’m glad I did. I loved the bike portion, and I met some fun people during the run.

Injuries and Becoming a Runner
In November, I signed up for the National Half Marathon in March 2011 and decided to focus mostly on running and swimming all winter. In November, my dog Sara herniated a disc in her lower back. Sara is a dog who appears to have nine lives, which I’m sure I’ll talk about some day. She couldn’t walk for a few weeks, so I had to lift her 50lbs way more often than I should have. Over the year, she’s regained 90-95% of her ability to get around, but all the pressure on my back led me to a herniation of the L5-S1 disc.

I slowly figured this out through the winter, and after doing the Mardi Gras Half Marathon in New Orleans in February, I had to stop running due to various injuries: pulled calf muscles, sciatica, other random soreness. They were all related to disc problem, of course. I had to skip the National Half. I was so angry. I hate having to give up a goal. After a month off combined with physical therapy, I was able to resume training. The disc still bothers me, and it may for a long time. I just have to be careful with it and make sure I keep my core strong.

After I did another triathlon in June, I had to admit to myself how much I hated swimming. I decided to dedicate myself to running. My friends were runners, I grew to love the track, and I really wanted to focus on one discipline. I signed up for the Parks Half Marathon in September and started to inhale all the running knowledge I could. I made my own training plan and started at it. I knocked 10 minutes off my previous PR for the distance (down to 2:08) and learned a lot in the process.

Why am I Writing This?
I’m hooked on this thing now. I want to figure out how to get faster, how to do my best, whatever it takes. And that’s what I want to document here. I’m not the fastest (or slowest) runner, I don’t have perfect form and I need to lose a few more pounds, but I do have a good head on my shoulders and some really stubborn determination. I’m no expert, but I’m also dogged to try to get there.

My goal for the year is to run five half marathons. My time goal is to break 2:00 at some point. I hope to do it in the spring and set a new goal in the fall, but things never go as you plan them. The races I plan to do are:

  • Rock and Roll USA in March
  • Frederick Half Marathon in May
  • Riley’s Rumble in August
  • Women’s Trail Half in September
  • Baltimore Half Marathon in October

You can find me on dailymile here and on twitter, @4kategreen.

Keep coming back to see how this year goes. I’ll be posting mostly on Mondays, but I may post more often. In addition to my training, I’ll also be exploring other aspects of running and other interesting topics. I’m especially interested in how people go from being aspiring runners to self-motivated runners. Hope to see you soon!

2 Responses

  1. This is very cool, Kate!

  2. Go Kate, go! I will be living vicariously through you on your half marathon journey this year. Keep the posts coming!

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