In the spring of 2009, I decided to run a half marathon. I take that back. In the spring of 2009, I walked into work one day and declared (after just discovering I could run for 1.5 miles without stopping after weeks of training with a personal trainer) that I was going to run a marathon – all 26.2 miles of it. At least, I thought that’s what the mileage of a Marathon was. My then co- and now awesome friend Chrissy, who I barely knew, turned around in her chair and said, “Okay, I’ll do it with you.” Only, neither of us really knew what to do to get started!

Chrissy & I in NYC for the Tunnel to Towers 5K 2010.

Chrissy & I in NYC for the Tunnel to Towers 5K 2010.

Now, blame it on the fact that I have watched Inception way too many times for what is normal for any human being, but I can’t exactly recall how I found out about Marathoners In Training (MIT) – a local training group that helps people achieve their walking and running dreams by changing their lives one mile at a time. So, naturally [insert blame Inception here] I am now convinced that I dreamed of it and then it came true. The only thing I can figure is, since I had dabbled in run/walking 5K’s on and off periodically, I had seen MIT at a race and somehow stored that info in the back of my mind only to be recalled when it truly mattered. Or, maybe I went into Fleet Feet to buy a pair of shoes and saw a sign about it there. Either way, I can’t really remember! Freaky, I know. For the record, I now ask every new person I see at MIT how they found out about it and so far I am the only one who dreamed-it-true!

Chrissy and I showed up for the first MIT group run on Saturday – very early – and saw that the full marathoners were running seven miles. Yeah, right. I think our eyes glazed over right then and there. I was about to give up when Chrissy mentioned that the half training schedule said two miles. We could do that! Who knew we could train for a half marathon and still be happy about accomplishing something great? We ran two miles that day, every step of the way, and it was hard, but thrilling.

Now, this is not to say, we ran two miles and then ran a half marathon. Oh, no. Our training took about five months – the longest time to date I had ever stuck with any type of exercise routine. We ran in cold rain, in blazing heat, in thunderstorms and wind. We ran with colds, aches, sore knees and hips. We ran when we didn’t want to run. We didn’t run when we wanted to. We ran after work in circles at the park. We ran alone and we ran together. Chrissy made me run when I wanted to skip it. I called her sometimes to make sure she was on her way. We skipped Saturday training runs and felt miserable. We slept in one or two days and felt refreshed. We committed ourselves and re-committed ourselves again and again and again. We balanced family, work, and social time every day of training. Sometimes we failed at that. We asked questions of the pace coaches and staff. We learned what GU was. We learned why fuel belts are life-savers. We ran for miles without saying a single word. We said a few words that pulled the other one through just when she was ready to give up. We learned from the runners around us. People asked us what we were doing and we told them about MIT. People asked us how we were still running as the weeks went by – we told them to come to MIT. We ran two miles then four, then five, then six, then eight, then eleven. People didn’t know what to say when we came into work with stiff legs and aching backs. “You’re still running?” they would ask. Eventually they stopped asking and just stared when we said 13.1 miles. We cried (well, at least I did) and we sure laughed a whole lot, especially when it involved toilet paper and bathrooms.

We ran the Spirit of Columbus Half Marathon on August 30, 2009 – my birthday. We crossed the finish line together and it is a memory I will cherish forever. It was the single greatest accomplishment of my life so far. I couldn’t have done it without Chrissy and MIT to teach me what to do and support me every mile along the way.

We continued training with MIT and we ran the Columbus Half in October of 2009. Not only had we trained for and ran our goal race (just like our coaches at MIT said we would), but we ran two half marathons in less three months apart. My life had taken a major turn.

Crossing the finish line.

Crossing the finish line.

It was unbelievable for someone who could previously on run for a mile and a half. In less than a year I went from being overweight, near-diabetic and unhappy with myself, to a healthier, thinner and much more confident individual. I know for a fact I would not have been able to do it without the support, encouragement, advice, and patience of the MIT coaches who helped me not only learn to run, but helped me achieve dreams which I never thought to be possible. My life has literally changed one mile at a time.

In 2012, I was granted the opportunity to give back to the community of runners who helped me change my life. I became a Fleet Feet Certified Coach in the summer and coached the 13 minute pace group for two seasons. It has been one of the greatest opportunities of my life to help other, newer runners achieve the goals I once thought impossible to achieve myself.  And, while I am not coaching currently, I hope to continue to give back by helping others learn to and continue to run through my training advice on this blog.

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