January 25 2016
They say you never forget your first. It is so true with these running milestones.
The beginning of Spring is a popular time to begin a new running routine. The warming temperatures and the flower dotted landscapes provide great inspiration for those who want to add running into their life. But regardless of when your first run occurs, it can be very memorable. Often those first steps lead to accomplishments that once seemed impossible.
I cannot quite remember my first run ever. It was likely an uneventful short run on the first day of Spring Track practice when I was 14. What followed was an exciting high school running career and one year of college competition before burn out and academics moved my priorities into a different direction.
However I do remember my first run after that six year hiatus. In 2008, I stood in the Brooklyn neighborhood I was living at the time and watched the participants of the NYC Marathon stream past me. As much as I loved cheering them on, part of me wanted to be in on the action. I turned to my husband and said “I’m going to run this marathon next year.” For the first time in years, I had the desire to put on my running shoes and go.
The only suitable outfit I had for a chilly day was an stretched out sports bra, a cotton long sleeve shirt from a high school track meet, baggy athletic pants, and well worn trainers. Lack of proper running attire would not deter me. I got dressed and started, very slowly, towards Shore Parkway, a flat paved running path that winds along the Narrows waterway in Southern Brooklyn. The path ended at a pier that was approximately 1.5 miles away from my apartment. I was determined to make it there.
The first half-mile of my run felt wonderful, almost euphoric. I thought “Why haven’t I run in so long? This is fun!” As any new runner knows, this optimism usually does not last long. The combination of an unsustainable pace and years of inactivity eventually caught up with me. It turns out that a first run can be difficult! My legs started to ache. My lungs burned from the chilly air. The path felt like it would stretch on forever.
Finally, after what felt like the longest minutes of my life, the pier came within sight. At that moment, I knew I would make it. I focused on my breathing and keeping my legs moving until I reached the end of the pier. Slumped down upon the nearest park bench, I starred at the view of the Statue of Liberty and tried to catch my breath. I felt so happy and accomplished. I knew this could be the start of a new phase in my life. And then I realized, in horror, I had to turn around and make it through another 1.5 miles home.
First runs are not easy. There may be more walking than running. There will be tired legs. But there is also a joy and achievement from starting something new that can change your life. Those first 3 miles that I ran/walked that day would lead me to new races, friendships, and opportunities that I had never imagined.
Now it is your turn! Tell me all about your first run! Share your story by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @womensrunning with #myfirstrun. We will be sharing our favorites!