Gym class, Flava Flav, and 26.2

Monday, February 06, 2017

Once a year in elementary school, our gym teacher forced us to do a 12-minute run. I looked forward to the 12-minute run the same way I look forward to filing my income tax returns or going to the DMV as an adult. My classmates and I would run laps of the gym and count the number of laps we could complete in 12 minutes. I spent probably eight of the 12 minutes walking and clutching my side. I'd finish maybe 15 laps, casually rounding that number up to 25, and would silently curse out Mr. McLellan every time I huffed past him, standing there smug in his splash pants and polo shirt.

In spite of my early years hating the sport, I started running for fun almost by accident. I was on a limited budget when I first moved to Halifax, so I didn't have a gym membership, but I lived in a house with a treadmill. My first winter in the city, I'd do walking and running intervals on the treadmill while watching trashy reality TV. Turns out, an episode of Flavor of Love helped make a workout fly by (thank you, Flava Flav, for helping kickstart my fitness). When the weather warmed up, I moved my intervals outside. Before long, I could run five minutes without stopping. Then 10 minutes, then 15. I didn't mean for it to become a hobby, but I began to look forward to my after-work jogs. My clothes were fitting better and I was choosing healthier meals and snacks.

For years, running was strictly a solo sport. I didn't run any organized races. I registered for a 5K and didn't show up on race day. I wasn't confident I could finish a 5K without embarrassing myself, so I didn't bother trying. On Monday morning, I told everyone I'd "forgotten" about the event. After Eli was born, I decided I'd sign up for the Blue Nose 10K six months later, thinking that training for the race would help me get back into shape postpartum. Training went so well that a couple months before the Blue Nose, I bumped up my registration to the half marathon, and that was my first official race, in May 2012. I finished in 2:02 and swore it was harder than childbirth. "Never again!" I proclaimed.

Within the next year, I'd signed up for a charity 5K, a 10K, and a Mud Hero obstacle race. As my collection of medals slowly grew, I became hooked on training for events - having a race on the calendar to work towards, following a training plan, carbing up the night before a run, and pinning on a fresh new bib on race day.

Once the pain of my first half marathon subsided, I started thinking about running a full marathon. I've started and stopped marathon training plans a few times since.  A large part of me thinks I'm simply not enough of an athlete to complete a marathon, but it's always been in the back of my mind - a bucket list thing, a "someday" thing. I want the 26.2 bumper sticker for my car. I want "marathoner" in my social media profiles. I don't need to finish sub-four - I just want to cross that finish line one time. This is something I've been thinking about now for almost five years, so I think it needs to happen at least once.

Currently, I'm six weeks into a full marathon training plan, and I have this year's Blue Nose penciled on my calendar on May 21. If things fall apart between now and then, there are a couple of local marathons that are also possibilities in September and October. I'm not sure if the Blue Nose will be my race, but I do think 2017 will be my year. 26.2, here I come. Slowly, yes, but I'm coming for you.

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  1. Love this story, Amy! :) You've always been an inspiration to me with your fitness journey. You go sista!!

    I remember that feel about getting the side stitch and had to do that damn run in cadets and I hated it so fucking much. hahaha I got a similar stitch in my side today at Crossfit and was reminiscing not so fonly.