Yes, I call myself a runner!

In a world where 24 hour news updates are at your fingertips, the influx of information, good and bad, can be overwhelming.  I've decided to take a break from the ups and downs of the market and the latest entertainment headlines to share with you a little bit about me. I was blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) by being born into an athletic family.  My father attended college on a football scholarship and my brother played college football and baseball.  I have one cousin who played football and baseball in college (and professionally) and another who played college volleyball.  One of the first entries in my baby book even said “attending brother’s baseball games.”  So, it seems natural that I love to play sports too, but it may come as a surprise that I have always hated to run. 

I have made a point to always play sports with as little running as possible.  I would choose softball over soccer and cheerleading over basketball.  Even in gym class I would dread the day we had the one-mile run, knowing I could never finish it without walking.

Knowing this background info, it may seem strange to know that now I call myself a runner.  It all started a few months after my 30th birthday.  A friend suggested we run a 5k as a way to get into shape.  A 5k – that’s 3.1 miles.  I thought she had to be insane – I’d never run a mile at one time, let alone 3.1!  But after some convincing I decided to give it a try.  We signed up for a training course and, after 12 long weeks, we were able to slowly jog our way through the 5k course. To our surprise, we weren’t last and we didn’t die (a bonus!).  This was motivation enough to say I could check that off my bucket list and never do it again.

A few years later I married my husband, who happens to be a Marine.  We thought running would be something we could really enjoy doing together.  I tried to run to the end of our street (1/4 mile) just to give me a benchmark from which to start.  I think I made it 3 – 4 houses before I realized this was going to take a lot of work and I was going to need help.

I tried on different occasions to run with my husband and, even with his encouraging words and his enthusiastic cadence, which I could breathlessly hiss back as I gasped for air trying to keep up with him, I realized this was not the motivation I needed.  I did manage to run on my own and started to enter 5k races.  I would run and walk them, but it really wasn’t much fun as none of my friends ran so I was basically doing a lot of these alone.

That October I ran the Women’s Only Run – a 5k in Greensboro which raises money for mammograms for women of the Triad.  I was there standing amongst thousands of women dressed in pink when I noticed a group wearing matching shirts huddled together, excited about this run.  While I stood alone in the crowd watching them, I realized that I needed to find out who these women were and how I could get to be a part of their group.

That next summer, I joined a women’s only running class offered through the Greensboro Running Club.   What a program!  Almost 200 women had signed up and were all broken into teams based on their ability.  There were teams with women who had run for years, and teams with women who had never run a step in their lives.  Old, young, fit, and well, we’ll just say not so fit… all had come together with a common cause – to run!

I got paired with a great team and met some amazing women who all had signed up for their own reasons, but together we all wanted to run.  The class took me step by step in an incremental program … run 5 minutes, walk 2; repeat 3 times.  Then the next week run 6 minutes, walk 1, repeat three times.  Before you knew it I was running the Women’s Only 5k with a group of my new friends.  I caught the running bug after that… I’d enter lots and lots of 5k races.  Never fast or competing to win my age group, let alone the entire race, but trying to better myself.  I had my share of setbacks along the way, injuries here and there, but I didn’t drop out or quit, I always kept going.  I learned that slow and steady was my way.

This past fall, along with a great group of girlfriends I had met through the women’s running class, we decided as a group that we were going to run a half marathon – that’s 13.1 miles.  We found a class offered through Off ‘N Running with a really exceptional coach, Jen.  Jen is a person I used to see running through Greensboro as I drove home from work.  She made it look effortless and she was FAST.  When I learned she was our coach, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding; there is no way I can do this,” but still I signed up along with 33 others…Welcome to the “Streakers!”   (Don’t worry, we do wear clothes!)  Again we started little by little … running a “short” 3 miles during the week then extending to a long 4 -5 miles on the weekend.  Each week we added a little distance and got a little stronger until we got to the point where our “short” weeknight runs are 7 miles and our “long” weekend runs are 12 – 14 miles.

Now, I run an average of around 20 – 25 miles per week.  I have been able to experience that “runner’s high,” and I’ve finally gotten to a point in the run where I can enjoy my surroundings, have a conversation, or even “think” and let my mind go free rather than just focusing on catching my breath.  I started to realize that running is like anything in life. If you put your mind to it and have the proper coaching, you can do anything!

All this training has brought me to this coming weekend.  Saturday, February 18th, I will run my first half marathon in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I would be lying if I said there weren’t any nerves, but I have a new level of confidence that I can really do anything!  Through it all there have been aches and pains, good and bad runs, nerves, and a few tears, but overall a huge feeling of accomplishment.

Why am I sharing all of this?  Because while running may not be your thing, I encourage you to find out what is, and go after it.  Do you want to learn to play golf?  Sew a quilt?  Raise money for your favorite charity?  Retire at age 59?  Travel to Europe?  Earn a college degree?  Know that it is not too late to start to find your passion and create new challenges in your life.  Set your sights on a goal and create a plan to reach it.  You don’t have to do it on your own; find a coach who can help guide you along the way.

If your goals are financial in nature, I would encourage you to contact us at HMC Partners.  Gib and John are both exceptional at setting up plans to help you prepare for your future and can be your coaches to help you build your wealth.  Whatever your goal is, I encourage you to go out and get it.  And as for my upcoming race, bring it on, Myrtle…I’m ready!