Right about now (*hopefully*) I’m partially through my 20 mile run. Brad and I stayed in Chapel Hill last because we’ll take any excuse to be near our Alma Mater. Rather than wait until I got back to Charlotte, I decided that Chapel Hill is the perfect place to do my second 20-miler, being that it was wear I first fell in love with running.
While I’m pounding the pavement, I’d like to introduce you to Stephanie of Running in the Kitchen. Stephanie is a D.C. resident, budding cook, and marathoner-in-training. Stephanie became a runner in a pretty interesting place, but I’ll let her share her own story.
Blog: Running in the Kitchen
1. How long have you been running?
I started running in 2002 when I was a volunteer in Nicaragua with the Peace Corps.
2. How did you begin running?
When I left for Nicaragua, I brought a “Peace Corps Bucket List” over with me. There were 4 things I wanted to accomplish while I was over there.
1) Learn Spanish (a given now that I was living in Central America).
2) Teach myself to play guitar (I learned, but didn’t love it so sold my guitar to another volunteer).
3) Get a dog (adopted a sweet lab/doberman mix called Eda).
4) Start running.
Why was running on my list? Well, my dad ran cross-country when he was in high school and also competed in 5k races when I was little, so I was always inspired to become a runner to have that connection with him. Also, not being coordinated enough to play group sports growing up, I always felt that running could be one physical activity I could get into. I wasn’t active in high school or college and knew that needed to change, so I figured Peace Corps would be a great opportunity to work on improving my physical fitness and decided to give running a shot.
It was probably the weirdest place to start running. I would run the hills on the outskirts of my town every other day. Seeing the looks on the local farmers faces when I was running the old dirt roads as they were bringing their milk to town to sell was priceless. The most I would run was about 20 minutes at a time, but it set the base I would build on once I returned to the States.
3. In how many races have you competed?
I ran my first half marathon while I was going to grad school in Denver. Since then I’ve run 9 more races.
4. What is your favorite pre-run fuel?
For long runs an Ezekiel english muffin with peanut butter, jam and banana. For any run under 6 miles, I don’t eat anything.
5. What is your favorite post-run snack or meal?
Mixed berry scone from my local farmer’s market. I always end my long runs there so I can grab one and take it home.
6. Do you like running buddies or do you prefer to run alone?
I would love a running buddy, but currently only run alone. None of my good friends in DC are runners I thought it would be really difficult doing the long runs all by myself during my current marathon training – it’s my first one – but it hasn’t been too bad.
7. What’s your must-have object on a run?
It’s a trade off between my Garmin and my iPod. If I had to choose I think I’d go with the iPod because I’d have my podcasts and can still get a rough estimate of how long I’ve been running. If my Garmin could sing to me I’d go with that. They should work on that.
8. Favorite place to run?
Beach Drive in Washington DC. It’s a road that DC closes down on Saturdays and Sundays. You feel completely separated from the buzz of the city as you run through Rock Creek Park.
9. What is the worst race in which you have ever participated?
2007 Denver Half-Marathon. It rained the entire time.
10. What’s your favorite race distance and why?
I LOVE half-marathons. In my opinion they are the perfect distance. Training for them is manageable from a time standpoint and the distance is challenging enough without being too stressful on the body.
11. How many times a week do you typically run?
I run 3 times a week even right now during my Marine Corps Marathon training. I save 3 days for lifting and 1 day for rest. It’s the perfect formula for me.
12. How has your running or your feelings toward running changed over the years?
My first couple years of running I was just going through the motions. I ran because I figured it was the best form of exercise. Day in and day out I ran the same route and distance. Right before I moved to Denver for graduate school I had the urge to kick things up a notch, so while I was on vacation at my lake house in the Adirondacks I ran around the lake from my house to my grandpa’s. It was 6.5 miles – the farthest I had ever gone. Doing that one run gave me the confidence to start upping my mileage and start training for my first half marathon. Now I see running asa necessity not only to keep physically challenging myself, but also for my mental health.
13. What’s your pie-in-the sky running dream?
To run Hood to Coast. I haven’t even seen the movie yet, but it’s a race I’m dying to run.
14. What or who inspires you to run?
This might sound weird, but I inspire myself to run. I can’t express how much I love the way running challenges me both mentally and physically. If I’m ever too lazy to hit the pavement, I think about how proud of myself I feel after each and every one my runs no matter the pace, no matter the distance. Just thinking of that post-run glow gets me going. Even during the worst runs, when it’s over I find myself being appreciative that my body even lets me run and allows me to push myself farther than I ever thought I would be able to. I choose to take advantage of the fact thatI CAN run. To me that’s inspiring.
19. How has running changed or contributed to the person you are?
You could say that I’m wound pretty tight. Running has helped clam me down, and made me more appreciative and live-in-present-moment person.
20. A friend just ran a mile and is inspired to start running regularly. What words of wisdom or inspiration do you have for them?
Take your time, be patient, and listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to push yourself, but don’t do it too quickly. Taking the slow and steady path to running will lead to success, however that success is defined by you. Lastly, as long as you are challenging yourself, don’t worry about what others are doing.
I can relate to being “wound pretty tight” and I think running helps me with that too. Thanks so much, Stephanie, for sharing your running story with me and my readers. Please hop on over to Stephanie’s blog to learn more about her.
If you would like to be featured in the I’m a Runner series, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.