I am a runner, but you would never know by looking at me. I don’t fit a stereotype of what one might think of as a runner – lean, tall, strong. My sister and father have had running in common for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I remember watching my dad leave for hours at a time to complete his runs, as well as watching him run across the finish line of our annual local 10k in rural central Illinois. When she was in middle school and high school, I remember watching my sister at track meets – tearing up the track in the 400. Her junior year of high school, she even ran on a relay team that won second place at the Illinois state track meet. I remember wanting to be a runner so I could have that in common with my family – to fit in more – but I was not built like my dad or sister. Slow to the core, I never saw myself as a runner, but my desire to try to fit in more pushed me to try SOMETHING. I knew I couldn’t compete with my sister on the track, so I went out for cross country. I was always the last one on our team across the finish line. I couldn’t even come close to keeping up with the rest of my team. I always felt like I was practicing alone. Racing alone. Finishing alone. Then I went to college.
My freshman year of college, I was working on figuring myself out. When I went home for the summer before my sophomore year of college, I was working a full time job. However this was in my hometown of less than 5,000 people, and I had limited access to a car to take me anywhere where I might find something to occupy my free time. So, I set a goal to run all the roads in the city limits of my hometown. That took less than a month to complete. All the runs were slow and steady with no goals for time or distance.
Time for a new goal. I had no desire to train for a 5k or even a 10k. Those races were for “fast people”. It was also around this time in my life that I was starting to understand my freedoms. Weekend trips on Amtrak to Chicago were starting to become part of my life. In trying to plan out my next goal, I combined running with my love for the city, and decided to run the Chicago Marathon. You don’t have to be a fast runner to run a marathon. You just had to finish. I could do that. I was told that I couldn’t, but it was this point in my life that I realized the true depth of my stubborn red-headed nature. I could do it. Just watch me.
Fast forward 17 years, 3 marathons, and 119 other races, and a move to Colorado later...