Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My boring ass athletic history

My athletic career really started when I was 30 and began a desk job. I found that I could not maintain my normal weight without exercise so I started running. I ran a little bit in college but never very far or very seriously. As a kid I did gymnastics, ballet and some dance but I also had been blessed with really good genes. Where they came from I do not know since both my parents and my brother have had struggles with weight whereas I was always called “skinny”. That 30th birthday and the sedentary job changed all that and I decided I wanted to try running and signed up for a 5K. Well, things progressed from there - a 5K became a 10K, which became a half a marathon and finally became a full marathon in 2000. I did not finish in record time and probably barely missed getting swept off the course but I did finish a marathon. I signed up to do it again the following year but the death of my mother and the herculean task of cleaning out a house occupied by a borderline hoarder, the selling of a business and finding homes for 6 cats and a dog kind of took over my life. Then grad school got in the way and well running was only done in fits and starts.
In 2007 a friend told me about a running group that met 2 miles from my house and every Saturday. I checked it out online and was a bit concerned about the cost but decided to dive in and if I made the financial commitment then maybe I would stick with it. So, I joined Get Fit Atlanta. I soon realized this was a half marathon and marathon training group - neither of which was in my plans but decided to just run whatever the planned distances just to stay in shape and have company. Well, I soon got on the band wagon and decided to sign up for the Baltimore Marathon. My husband John had already completed multiple marathons and really wasn’t interested in running another one but agreed to run this one with me.
Part of Get Fit Atlanta’s training included post running seminars. One morning there was a seminar on triathlons - something I secretly wanted to do - and my ears perked up a bit. I came home all enthused and told John all about it and in his ever encouraging way told me I should see how the marathon goes before trying a triathlon. Maybe he knew something I didn’t but once I hit my 14 mile benchmark I started having major pain in my right anterior calf that began to flare up after 1 or 2 miles and eventually kept me from running my marathon that fall. Numerous doctors, chiros and physical therapists later no one ever really figured out the cause except for a possible muscle strength imbalance.
That winter I bought a bike because I was bound and determined to try this tri thing. I rested my leg and started trying to swim and bike in the spring. Now, I can ride a bike but learning about pedal clips, navigating traffic and climbing hills were definitely new to me. My past bike experience involved riding my bike 500 feet to the neighbors to play or riding on homemade bike trails in the woods beside our house. As for swimming well I can breaststroke and dog paddle with the best of them but freestyle was another thing. Between Total Immersion videos and working with Coach Mike at Get Fit I eventually became a decent swimmer and could swim several laps without gasping and sputtering. Well, low and behold but the swimming, biking and a little bit of trail running seemed to have “fixed” whatever was wrong with my leg. I was still scared of running too many miles in fear of it returning so I kept my distances to under 8 miles. In 2008 I completed my first triathlon - Irongirl. I was scared to death but made it through and became a triathlete. I have continued “tri-ing” since then and have completed 3 sprint distances (400-600m swim, 10-18 mile bike and a 5K(3.1 mile) run, 2 Olympic distance relays (I swam and 2 other people biked and ran), 3 full Olympics (1500m swim, 40K (~25 miles) bike, 10K run (6.2 miles)), 2 Half Ironmans (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) and last year I completed an Ironman on my second attempt (2.4 miles swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run). I have even done two 50K trail runs (31+ miles) so apparently my mystery leg problem has been resolved.

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