11 Jan Welcome to GingerRunner.com!
I am very excited to debut the new site, GingerRunner.com! If you haven’t watched it yet, please check out the video where I introduce who I am and talk about the site’s purpose HERE.
So, why did I choose to make this site?
Well, let me take you back. Waaay back. So when I was in Junior High, I ran cross country. I was never particularly good, in fact I was easily one of the worst runners on the team. The only reason I did it was because I thought I had to in order to stay in shape – though the only shape I was ever in was ‘soft’. I wasn’t a fat kid, just that awkward “big boned” kid that was always uncomfortable in gym class, in bathing suits, and around girls. I thought cross country would make me a leaner, handsom-er machine that girls would fawn over. Nope. It just made me feel like I couldn’t run.
Jump ahead to high school where I continued to pursue cross country, soccer, track & field, and a variety of other extra-curricular sports – never well enough. The more I participated, the more I hated the idea of competing against other athletes who were always going to be better than me. Such a bummer, right? I began to focus my attention on my school work, comedy endeavors, and REAL life. Now we’re talkin’.
In college, I continued with my academics, comedy, and new-found drinking hobbies till a trip home to my family in early 2001 sparked something new. My older brother and father were reminiscing about a bike ride that they did together years earlier. It was called the STP or Seattle To Portland bike ride. It’s 220 miles of pure bike riding bliss. My brother had done it twice, the first time when he was younger with my dad in 2 days, then once again when he was my age in 1 day. During that attempt he had suffered an irreparable flat tire 6 miles from the finish. He walked the rest.
This spurned something inside of me. At this point, it had nothing to do with picking up an endurance sport to lose weight or get ladies, it was about tradition and legacy. I knew that that year was the year I would follow in both my father’s and brother’s footsteps by completing the STP in 1 day. I signed up for the race the next week. Only 1 problem, I didn’t have a bike.
I talked my brother into letting me use one of his older frames – the exact bike he used to attempt the single-day STP. I trained for months riding longer and longer between classes, after classes, at night, on weekends, and whenever I had free time. I crashed, fell off the bike, broke chains and suffered all there is to suffer when learning distance bike riding. Upon raceday, I was ready. And I did it. I completed the 220 mile trek in under 10 hours 30 minutes. Not an unbelievable time, but that wasn’t the point. I did something for MYSELF and not for others. At this point, there was no turning back. I was hooked. I just didn’t know it yet.
The following year I ran my first marathon (The Portland Marathon) in a pedestrian 4:28:06 and my first ultra-distance relay (Hood To Coast). It seemed that I was on a running streak, but after both races, I fell out of the sport. Graduating from college, finding a job, getting a job, starting a career, and life took over. It’s like all this hard training was for nothing. It wasn’t until 2009 that the fire was reignited when I signed up for the inaugural Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. What started out as a challenge to myself to see if I could still do it – if I still had the perseverance to train and finish a full marathon – turned into so much more. It was the most difficult challenge physically and mentally I had ever faced. It was also the marathon that changed everything.
The race started out fantastic. All of my months of training had lead up to that day and it seemed that everything was going according to plan – in fact, even BETTER than I anticipated. My pace was faster than I thought was capable and I listend to my body and went with it. I was going to obliterate my previous marathon PR from Portland YEARS before – and here I was older, heavier, and ginger-ier! But perhaps I shouldn’t have listened to my body that day and rather obeyed my training and preparation. Mile 12 was my breaking point. Not even half way through and I was hit by the dreaded wall. I had used all of my energy stores running so fast through the front 10 miles that I had nothing left to finish out the last 16! I had to stop and walk but even that was fruitless in revitalizing me. At this point in the race, the runners begin the return into the downtown portion of Seattle where the course is lined with 1000’s of spectators. It was all I could do to keep from yacking all over people that spent hours waiting to see their loved ones.
“Oh hey, look! There’s daddy! Hey daddy, hey daddy! Good running, dad…..”
“EEEWWW!! Mommy, that ginger runner just puked all over meeeee!!!!”
Thank goodness I managed to keep everything inside and no ralphing was necessary, but that didn’t mean I was out of the woods. It’s the strangest sensation to put months and months of training into a race, prepping to kick it’s ass, only to be overcome by the heavy feeling of dread and failure half-way through. I wanted to quit so badly. I wanted to walk right off the course and go home. Questions like, “how DO you quit a marathon? Do I just walk off the course? Do I have to tell somebody? Do I hail a taxi? Where the FUCK am I?” come to mind. Little logistical questions that seem trivial now, but at the moment were epic choices.
Struggling to get to mile 15, I crossed the horrific ’99 Bridge’. It’s one long up and downhill out-and-back where the turn-around was at the northern most point of the bridge. That’s where hundreds of spectators were set up to catch glimpses of friends and family. It wasn’t until I limped to the turn-around that I heard familiar voices screaming my name. My best friends in the world had managed to station themselves perfectly in view to cheer me on. I will tell you now that if they hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have finished that race. And I did finish the race. Faster than Portland. By 27 minutes 20 seconds. It still wasn’t near my soft goal of 3:40:00 and just 46 seconds shy of beating my hard goal of the magical 4 hour mark. But I finished.
It took a few months for me to want to run again after the grueling marathon, but when I finally did, something changed. I started off slow with shorter runs, but I approached them differently than before. Instead of focusing on other things while I ran as distractions, I began to focus on important things, like form, footstrike, pace, and rhythm. These became distractions in themselves, but helpful distractions that began to contribute to running better and making the sport fun for me.
Over the last few years – especially since early 2010 – I have researched, studied, practiced, and applied all that I have learned to make me the runner that I am today. What’s great about this sport, like many, is that it takes continuous practice and work to succeed. And even better is that the best way to succeed is to set your own goals to accomplish! They can be as small as running 3 miles without stopping to qualifying for the Western States 100. It doesn’t matter, it’s all up to YOU to set them. And it’s all up to YOU to accomplish them.
With GingerRunner.com I hope to show you that setting goals is your first step to accomplishment and I want to prove to every single one of you that anybody can do this. I’ve run marathons where I get passed by 70 year olds, extremely obese people, kids, you name it. It proves that all you need is the drive and perseverance and you can do anything. So let’s have some fun, shall we? We train. We race. We celebrate.