The end of my college athletic career was one of the most difficult transitions that I’ve had to go through, and to be honest, it was really challenging to plan for (along with the transition into the “real world”). I no longer have coaches telling me what to do or where to be; there are no more teammates to count on in moments of weakness or for congratulatory high fives in times of success; there are no more fitness tests to pass or mandatory conditioning sessions to attend. The biggest change to date, is that now there is nobody holding me accountable for what I do (or choose not to do).
After I returned to San Diego in late December, I quickly thrust myself into as many running and fitness groups as possible, in an effort to regain that lost sense of camaraderie that I had once shared with my 31 other teammates. My week quickly began to fill up: Monday and Wednesday mornings were spent at November Project, Wednesday nights I found myself at Milestone for run club, the weekends kicked off with Friday After Work run group, followed by a combo of yoga and running at bRUNch club on Saturday, while Sundays I alternated between long runs and Glider Port Stairs at Torrey Pines. I threw down #VERBALS for almost all the workouts, which meant that I had to show up or face public social media humiliation (aka getting called out for not showing up). I became part of a bigger fitness movement in San Diego, November Project, and was no longer just another individual running a route through another neighborhood; It felt good to be part of a “team” again.
In January, I attended every single workout possible and felt stronger than ever. I used to resent running because A) I am not very fast and B) it was commonly used as a punishment for not being fast enough . Now that I was running for myself and had no “times” to meet other than my own personal goals, I finally began to find my stride, both literally and figuratively. Running was FUN, Burpees were celebrated, and I started to “eat hills for breakfast”. Who woulda thought?
As the runs became easier and the mileage began to pick up (meaning I ran over three miles), a couple of people at November Project began talking about the San Diego Half Marathon in March. Before I knew what I was getting myself into, I was signed up and dropped my #VERBAL, even though I had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully I was able to coerce my fitness loving mother and NP superstar into running it with me so I had some sort of guidance throughout the next seven weeks.
My training plan originally called for increasing my mileage from my four mile max to pounding out eight miles the first weekend. I quickly threw that plan away (and all my hopes for running a half) and began to follow my Mom’s more carefully structured plan which included lower mileage until weeks 5-7, in which we would increase slowly to ten miles the week before the race.
Flash forward seven weeks and I’m toeing the start line for the San Diego Half Marathon, a surge of nervous energy fueling my empty, nauseous stomach. I woke up on Sunday at 4:30, sick to my stomach, unable to get anything down; by the start of the race I had been able to eat two orange slices: things were not looking good to start. Nearly two hours later and we’re downtown at Petco Park to check our bags and get ready. We immediately found some fellow NP (November Project) runners and huddled together to keep warm in true NPSD fashion #weatherspoof. At 7:20 the first wave took off and we began on our beautiful journey through San Diego, around the airport and Marine Depot, up Washington (the dreaded hill), through Hill Crest, and finally down Sixth Avenue until we turned towards the finishers chute on Fifth.
Two hours, ten minutes and forty seconds later, I finished. Three seconds later Ang came crashing into me at the finish line.
Three months ago I would of laughed at you if you told I was going to run a half marathon, let alone anything more than five miles. Now I find myself laughing, looking back at the fun I have on runs with my new “team”. Thank you to all those who pushed me both physically and mentally the last two months (including my Mom) – you continue to be a much needed daily source of inspiration.