Hello there! I’m CJ, a writer, runner and blogging fanatic. I’m not certain what I’ll be doing with this blog yet, but I’m sure it will include at least some of the following:
*Training flubs (aka ‘whoopsies,’ ‘owies,’ and ‘MOTHERF#&$ERS’)
*Whines and rants
*Running related links
…and other random running nonsense.
So, first, a little bit about me: I’m 23 and just moved to Pittsburgh in June having gotten my first Big Girl Job. Originally from northeast Ohio, I majored in English and journalism at NYU and graduated in May and was lucky enough to find a job within a few short weeks of returning home with my diploma (okay, well, that didn’t arrive until weeks later. But you know what I mean).
My love affair with running was a long time coming. As a kid, I didn’t really participate in athletics much. Now, before my Nerdy Boyfriend calls bullshit on me, let me ‘splain: I was never the competitive, team sport girl. I loved running around for fun, would go on bike rides a lot with my dad or with friends or alone in my neighborhood or local parks. I’ve been downhill skiing since I was 3 (though it’s been a few years so I’m probably a bit rusty) and sometimes make time for a little cross-country skiing. I used to swim for our neighborhood team, but quit that and left the swimming to my dad, who is an Ohio Master’s swimmer.
But I always loved running, on my own terms. I’m a fiction writer at heart, so most of my running was to assist my imaginary games: usually being some sort of wild cat (especially after Lion King came out) or a horse. I’d fly towards the jungle gym when we were let out for recess in elementary school. I loved running, except in one instance: gym class. The sight of the track still makes me a little queasy because of all the bad memories. Running the mile was what I dreaded most, which says a lot for a kid who generally hated gym – I was always picked last for teams (second or third to last on a good day). I wasn’t hugely uncoordinated, just that no one gave me the chance to improve.
Ninth grade rolled around, and we were a few weeks out from doing the last mile run we’d ever be forced to do in P.E. Our gym teacher wanted us all to kill it, so he had us run five minute (or more) warm ups every day before the rest of gym class. Granted, in retrospect, this probably didn’t do much for my fitness, since it was only a couple weeks, but it boosted my confidence: I started a trend, bringing a little radio walkman, and running with my friend Jill. We pushed each other to keep going. Eventually half the class was bringing walkmans (this was pre-iPod of course) and rocking out as we prepared for the mile.
When the day rolled around, Jill and I stuck together for the first three laps. On the last lap, we wished each other well and went at our own pace. I pushed it. A Metallica song came on, and i dug in. I finished in 9:14. My fastest mile up to that date.
After that, I decided: why not try this? So I started running a mile a few days a week. Then 1.5 miles. Then my brother ran with me for my first two 2-milers. I was running three, then four, then five miles a day, five days a week. I trained for a 5-K (never got to do it, but that’s another story for another blog). Winter came and I wound up on the elliptical, but each spring I came back to running.
Senior year of college, I had a new running buddy, one of my best friends, Abby, who was my roommate second semester senior year, and we pushed each other. We’d run for an hour around Manhattan, up and down the West Side Highway, or East River Park. We’d tell epic yarns and laugh and sometimes just run in quiet companionship. Once, we had planned on running up to Central Park, touch a tree and run back (about 6-6.5 miles) and she suggested, “wanna run the reservoir?” We ran the rest of the way up to the Reservoir and back down to our dorms. I mapped it out (www.gmap-pedometer.com) and my eyes bugged out. We had just run 9.5 miles – my longest run to date by at least 2.5 miles.
I invested in some winter running gear, and have kept up running constantly, no off-season and therefore no starting-from-scratch-base-building since May 2009. And it feels great.
This summer, when I moved to Pittsburgh, Nerdy Boyfriend mentioned that his family would love to have me down for Thanksgiving. We’d been dating nearly four years but had never spent the holiday together. We’d also been long distance that whole time, and once he came back to PGH (he’s a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, currently), we’d finally be in the same city. Anyway, at the same time I received this invitation, he mentioned something else: the Atlanta Half-marathon, scheduled for Thanksgiving Day. What a way to earn one’s mashed potatoes and stuffing!
My running was slow and sluggish all summer: the heat and humidity were at record levels and apparently highly unusual, according to locals; two things I hate when it comes to running. Come September, I printed off a training plan from Runner’s World to get us started, and went to town. Nerdy Boyfriend and I did our tempo, speed work and long runs together whenever possible. In late September I ran my first race: the Pittsburgh Great Race 10K. We ran together the first mile or so, and I let him take off, as planned, to push for a PR. I was running it for the logistics and practice. I was pleased with my time – 56:39, a 9:07 pace. And I negative split to boot. The next weekend, we ran the Shadyside 5K for fun (about 26:35 or something, can’t remember exactly). In early November, I broke my own rule and ran one more race: the Autumn Leaves 5 Mile race near my hometown in Ohio. It was very slow, very snowy and muddy, but it was fun anyway.
We had a great time at our first half. We decided to race together, and for me everything clicked. I was hydrated, and had a good plan for nutrition, taking Clif Shotbloks every 4 miles or so. I finished feeling great, except for the massive amount of chafing on my right inner thigh (a runner’s high kept me going. It was agonizing, but only hurt a little during the race itself).
My next big race will be the Pittsburgh Half-marathon, May 15, 2011. I hope to run some other races for fun and tune-ups before then. After that, I’ll evaluate and see what will be next for me: another half… or perhaps a full marathon… come fall 2011.
So join me on my running/blogging journey. I promise sarcasm, jubilation, talk of food and other goodies that come with being a runner, and probably the occasional whine or rant. Questions/comments? Feel free to comment and/or subscribe. I’m always looking for another blog to read, especially from a fellow runner. 🙂