Saturday, April 19, 2008

It all started with a three mile run...

For someone who "hated" to run 3 months ago, I sure have spent a lot of time running lately. I think I have my new favorite gym, Lifetime Fitness ( and my trainer DJ to thank. I spent several years in a masters swim progam and was getting bored. Lifetime opened up across the street from work in November and I have been there most every day since. This place is like no gym you have ever been in, spa, cafe, nutrition counseling, loads of equipment, it never feels crowded - fantastic! This gym has changed my life :)

The first part of January, I joined a progam called Team Fitness. The concept is like boot camp, 10 to 15 participants and you meet three times a week to work out (cardio, weight training, nutrition). Two of the ladies in the group did the half marathon at Disney and when they came back with all of their stories, I thought if they can do it, I can... worst case scenario, I *know* I can walk it! I signed up for the half marathon online the minute registration opened up in January. (as my friends will attest, once I get an idea in my head I make it happen and don't waste any time doing it - right, Theresa?). So now I have a goal - a half marathon the day before my 40th birthday in January. I suppose I should train, right?

My first attempt at running in a race in the past nine years was the Run the Reagan in February. ( (I ran the Peachtree nine years ago but didn't train and had to drag my sweaty body across the finish line - ha ha). So this is where DJ comes trainer (avid runner, running freak, lives to run, not sure how else to describe him - he was in the Olympics in 1996 on a relay so you get the picture). DJ had our group sign up and compete so I signed up to be part of the group but really just wanted to finish. In general I don't think of myself as that competitive. I compete in tennis (my other sporting love) but really don't have that killer drive or so I thought.... As it turns out when I run, I enjoy passing as many people as I possibly can. I ran that 5K in 26:42 and that was the beginning of my newfound obsession with running.

I came home that morning and signed myself up for a Peachtree qualifier. It is one thing to get a number for the Peachtree as they are hard to come by but you also don't want to get stuck in the back of the pack. So two weeks after my first 5k, I am running from Tucker High School to Shamrock Middle in a 10k. 57:28 was my finish time. You need a 55:00 or better to get in one of the time groups, close enough for me! I am hopeful that I will still get closer to the front than someone without a time at all.

Somewhere along the way, I decided that next January was too far away to keep me motivated and that I should sign up for the ING Georgia Marathon. This was at the end of January so I have eight weeks to go from a 3 mile run to a half marathon. Absolutely doable! I immediately downloaded Hal Higdon's training plan and got started. (Side note on the training plans, they work! I was very prepared for the race) My long runs were around Stone Mountain; very hilly and as it turns out a great preparation for the hilly race course of the ING. Once around the mountain is 5 miles and there are some killer hills. I got up to 2.5 times around before the race. According to Hal Higdon's "plan" you only have to get up to 10 miles before the half marathon and the excitement of the race will carry you the rest of the way to the finish line but in my mind going from 10 to 13 miles on "momentum of the race" seemed hard to believe so I packed in a few extra miles to give me some confidence.

The ING was a great experience! I was so excited to have been able to do it. I did not have a time goal in mind I only knew I wanted to run the whole way and not stop to walk. Mission accomplished! I'll do a separate entry on the race. I felt so good after that race that I signed up for the Walt Disney World Marathon instead of the half. (Ok maybe I really wanted the Mickey Mouse finisher's medal instead of the Donald Duck you get for the half-marathon!)

So back to today... Between February and the end of March I went from not running to running a half marathon. I also have a new found interest in triathlons which led to me to where I was today. There is an organization in my area called Get Fit Atlanta. ( It is essentially group marathon and triathlon training. For a very reasonable price you get a training plan, seminars, contact with people who have done what you are trying to accomplish, weekly group runs and other training activities. They say that after 6 months with them you will be able to run a marathon. Today was the registration and run to see what time group you are in (they split up the runners based on ability levels so you are grouped with people that you can keep up with in a run).

So I am officially in the ORANGE group - I think that means your pace is somewhere around a 10 minute mile for the marathon. Six months from now I should be able to finish a marathon but Disney is 9 months away. hmmm.... nine months, that is too far away! In true Karen style, I came home and found marathon that is only six months out so of course I had to sign up! The Chicago Marathon . October 12, 2008. Yikes! :)

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