My brain has many factors working against it; Alzheimer’s runs in my family plus while we were stationed in Germany I was potentially exposed to mad cow and was exposed to extreme radiation from Chernobyl. On top of that I possibly have CTE from multiple minor concussions oh and I have kids which leads to “mommy brain”. Therefore I am a firm believer that you should learn something new everyday to help with brain health. Sometimes I unintentionally learn something but everyday I purposely educate myself on various subjects. Right now I am in the middle of reading Anatomy for Runners – Unlocking your athletic potential for health, speed, and injury prevention by Jay Dicharry, MPT, SCS. I have been learning so much not only about running but also about the body (my body) and wow things that I’ve had gut feelings or have questions about make sense now.
Let’s rewind the clock to the mid-90’s and track & field at Case Jr High in Watertown, New York…I wasn’t by any means a star athlete and looking back I think I did track more for the social aspect and I remember checking out the hot High School boys at track meets. My event was the 1600 aka the mile and I couldn’t tell you how fast I went I just remember that I often came in last place. Yet still I’d get out there and run. I had NO CLUE what I was doing and I would go out too fast, slow up and everyone would pass me then in the final stretch I’d sprint to the finish. Fast forward a smidgen to High School track at Dedham High in Massachusetts (High school kinda sucked but that’s a totally different story)- I ended up quitting! I realized in High School, man I am not a runner and I suck at this track thing, half the girls don’t truly like me (so no more social aspect) and I’m never going to get enough points to get a varsity letter. Actually I only have one varsity letter from High School and that was from my senior year of field hockey (yet again another story).
Yet my mom introduced me to another form of running in 2000 – on the last Sunday of April she woke me up and said we were going to the James Joyce Ramble (yes the name rambling mom actually comes from that) now if you live in Dedham you know that the Ramble is kind of a big deal in our town – everyone goes out for it! If you aren’t running then you are cheering for your neighbors – to this day it is still hands down my favorite 10K! So I thought we were going to go down to the corner and help at the water station – boy was I wrong! We went down and registered for the ramble. Whoa wait what? I’m 17 and I’m going to to run 6ish miles on a Sunday? Yet for some reason I agreed. Truly I had NO CLUE what I was doing! I didn’t have good shoes, I didn’t have a watch or any other fancy gadgets, I’m fairly certain all of my gear was wrong and probably cotton socks and shirt too…I’m fairly certain I walked a bit here and there but ya know what I finished! I didn’t take home a prize but I vividly remember people I knew cheering me on I remember how encouraging Mr Burbank & Mr Sierra were as they called out times at mile markers. I remember Mr Lapsley dressed up in time period clothing and reading from one of the James Joyce books. I remember Mr Morneau being out there as the DJ. I remember Mrs Burton cheering me from the sidelines…and so many others! The coolest thing from that day was meeting Uta Pippig (female winner of the Boston Marathon ’94-’96). I fell in love with the James Joyce Ramble and road racing that day. I looked forward to running it again the next year.
Fast forward a little bit more and obviously I didn’t let that get me down because I went on to play sports at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts. I have many awards from my days there and look back fondly at those Regiville days. I especially loved the last Sunday of April in those years when I would go back to Dedham to run the James Joyce Ramble and I’d talk to my trainer Devin about my goal of breaking an hour. Yet still looking back I really had no clue what I was doing. Isabel, Cait & Leanne ran the Boston Marathon (as bandits of course) when we were in College. I wanted so badly to run with them but always wimped out or got injured, etc. truly though in those days we didn’t follow strict training plans we just went out and ran.
Fast forward even more to 2008 – this was another memorable time I ran the Ramble. Isabel met up with me and ran with me. Isabel was by my side a lot those days – she would come visit me in the hospital (oh by the way I was in the hospital for a week at the beginning of April that year) and so it was great to be with her that year. When people saw me out on the course that year and knew what I had been through they thought I was crazy and yes I guess that would be the trigger to my craziness and love of running as an adult started to set in. Now I haven’t ran the James Joyce Ramble since 2010* and it breaks my heart – I hope to get up there for it again soon. Yet what I felt deep down inside for many years was that I do like running but I just hadn’t found my niche yet.
I think I’m finding my niche now…ya see ladies I am running faster than I ever was before and I love it. I find peace out there and learn so much about myself in many ways.
Ok so back to the book and a couple of things that really made those days finally click for me… On muscles: “Although all runners have all three types of fibers in their body, the distribution of each of these types is inherently genetic. Although it is possible to improve the characteristics of each muscle fiber type through training, it is not possible to alter the fiber type itself. So don’t waste time wishing you had more muscle fibers or vice versa. It is what makes athletes unique.”
My take from that to you is to have fun and fall in love with yourself as a runner. We weren’t all meant to be High School super stars (clearly I wasn’t) so don’t stress too much about those days to how you are now as an adult runner. Also, stop comparing yourself to others just worry about the clock in relationship to your goals and dreams! Yes I dream of qualifying for Boston and officially running the Boston Marathon but I know it’ll be a tough thing to accomplish and that for some in my same age group it’ll be easy and for some it’ll be even harder but who cares?!? The greatest thing I’ve learned about the running community was shown years ago by the adults that cheered me on in my very first James Joyce Ramble. They showed me how supportive the running community can be and I’m continually shown that through amazing groups like FCA and MRTT. So please don’t ever feel intimidate on how you make your strides, be proud and celebrate it! It took me about 15 years to fully learn that lesson (haha half a lifetime) so please…ENJOY!
*correction – 2011 – see comments 😉