I’m a passionate person: a goal setter, a to-do list writer, and–when I’m being lazy–a self guilt tripper. So when I came across this idea to run 30 races before turning 30 I was instantly drawn to it. After all, I barely entered my 20’s six months ago and was already planning to run one more race this year and 4-5 races in 2015.
The first time I ever ran a respectable distance was when I was 8 or 9, I jumped into a 5k with my family and ended it slouched, red in the face, and on the verge of death as my oversized tshirt billowed in the wind.
About a decade later my race quarter zip is still oversized (especially because they ran out of “smalls” at the expo) and I am picking up my first bib. It’s for the Des Moines Half Marathon, a race I was relatively unprepared for. I’d been building mileage every week, having done 12 the week before this–race day–would be the first time I’d travel 13.1 miles. But it was a shock that I was there at all… I grew up in a running household: my brother, 6 years my senior, could run 18 miles when he was 17 and my dad ran his first marathon in 2003. I knew better than to sign up for 13.1 mile race, less than 4 months away, when I’ve barely ran half of that distance. Fortunately, the following two things were true: 1. My friend did not know better. 2. When he told me we should sign up I wasn’t smart enough to say no.
I’m happy to say race day defied all my expectations/concerns. Not only did I finish the race with 0 walk breaks, I ran it way faster than I expected to. Before race day my avg min/mile for long runs had been as low as 11:16 and as high as 10:13, but on race day I averaged 9:32 min/mile. Unsurprisingly, I still “lost” to my much faster friend but–surprisingly–it was only by 11 seconds: a heartbreaking race to the finish line that definitely shaved some seconds off both our times. The post race spread was a buffet unlike any I’d ever seen and I quickly got back the calories I burned. I’d always wanted to do a half marathon but I’d never been able to see it through: running was off & on (usually more off than on); but this marked the end of quitting. That’s what made this race so monumental to me, and to do this with one of my dearest friends… I was overjoyed.
Months later Satan’s eternal winter comes and–eventually–ends. I’m 20, my sophomore year is coming to a close, and all I want to do is get home–finally eat some good food–and run the Soldier Field 10 mile. I remember seeing my dad run it the year before, how I wanted to run it too but just didn’t have the mileage. Now I did. I finished the race averaging 9:18 min/mile. It was the first race I ever ran with my dad, but it won’t be the last. And more importantly it was the first race of 30 races I will be running this decade.
29 more to go!