Running Down A Dream

Sunday morning I am running my first half-marathon. Ever. In my life. Yes, that was trepidation you heard in my voice, my nervousness is quite palpable, actually.

My goal: Just Finish.

And right now I feel fairly confident that I can do that. I’m not looking to break any records, or win any awards, I’m just looking to cross a finish line. That alone will mean quite a bit to this girl right here:

October 2010 - Day 1 of CrossFit

You might remember that picture, I’ve posted it here before, but if not, that was me on my first day of Crossfit (two years ago, this month – HEY-O!) On that memorable day the warm-up involved running 100 meters. It was uncomfortable and awful, and I remember feeling particularly embarrassed that I had to walk. 100 meters is not a long distance and I struggled — and it wasn’t in that triumphant-backed-by-a-soundtrack kind of way. I felt uncomfortable, I worried that I looked stupid, but most memorably it just made me upset with my body.

I kept trying to improve, though never running outside of the gym. Eventually I switched up my footwear which made a HUGE difference. Little by little I got faster and slowly but surely my body could go a little bit farther. It was a long term exercise in patience and persistence, because despite the fact that we run a lot in CrossFit there were blocks of time where my running did not improve at all. But then I began to challenge myself to run outside of the gym.

It was funny because I never had that ubiquitous desire to “Be A Runner” that so many people talk about. What I did have was this feeling that running was difficult, and you KNOW how I am with a challenge. Then one night last year I got ballsy. I signed up to run a half marathon in Seattle with a friend (Hi Jessica!) and I set my eye on the prize. I started training very diligently and making good friends with the treadmill at my office gym just about every morning around 5am. This went on for a few months, but after those few months I noticed a little hiccup – I had stopped losing weight. I was CrossFitting like a maniac, eating clean as a whistle, running 4 days per week and generally being a workout superstar! But the weight was just hanging on. Also: I WAS REALLY FREAKING TIRED.

So I reevaluated, hemmed and hawed, asked for advice and did some really deep thinking. I heard loud and clear (from many of you, actually) that training for running events and weight loss don’t generally go together. And because my goal at the time was to drop some weight, and I wasn’t about to give CrossFit up (that I was doing for my sanity), I ultimately decided to NOT run that race. There is a little part of me that still feels sad about it (Running! In Seattle! Waaaaah!) but it was the best decision I could have made at the time and I don’t regret it one bit. Once I subtracted the 5am running and added the extra sleeping, I was right back on track with the weight dropping.

But that “Goal: Unacheived” feeling sort of nagged at me. In the meantime I would run here or there for pleasure, and YES — I do mean pleasure. Running has never come easy to me, and I will never tell you that the first mile I run is enjoyable, but when you have felt that moment of sadness that I felt my first day of CrossFit — sadness about your body and its performance (or perceived lack thereof) you end up reveling in your own progress even if it is progress doing something that isn’t 100% enjoyable all of the time. And as I did it more, I became more confident.

I have said it a number of times: I will never be a super speedy runner. My body was built to lift heavy shit, not so much to race. But I have to tell you, when Sarah suggested we run this half-marathon at the end of October, I felt a little bit inspired.


Working on my running over the last few months has been SO. MUCH. FUN. at times. Of course it has also been crappy and tiring and hard, but improving on the tough stuff has been AMAZING! I’m not sure I would have challenged myself to run this race on Sunday if it wasn’t for the encouragement of Sarah, but heck, now that we are all signed up, I’m so glad the race is here and we get to do it!

One of the biggest gifts of the last 2 years, since opting to change up my lifestyle a bit, are the people who I have met, gotten close to, and learned from. It’s so fun to have friends who want to go out and run way too many miles on Saturday morning! It feels so nice to have coaches who are invested in your performance. It builds so much confidence to make a goal and then take the necessary steps to achieve it, but it is sharing those goals, and encouraging others, and having lots of discussion with a like-minded community of people that just make it all the more meaningful. It’s happened here in town, at the gym, on the internet, and out in Colorado at the very least. It’s THE PEOPLE that are the coolest part of this journey.

So I’m wondering, My People (yep, that’s you) – if you have a second on Sunday morning, can you send Sarah and I some good pre-race vibes? I’ve been running a lot, but Sunday will actually be the furthest I’ve run, um…EVER, . 13.1 miles, HOLY CRAP I’M A LITTLE NERVOUS. So any good ju ju you have to spare would mean a lot to this girl. But even more, it would mean so much to that girl in the picture up there, who never thought she would even be in a position to ask for support in a race like this. So thanks, y’all! It means the world….

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25 Responses to Running Down A Dream

  1. Amy says:

    I’m so jealous. I should be running this race 🙁 SIGH. Have an awesome experience! You’ll be awesome!

  2. Yay! I’m one of your people! That makes me smile 😉

    Good luck, lady– you’re gonna do great. I’ll be sending you some good juju vibes on Sunday morning.

  3. Sam Atchison says:

    This is such an awesome post. I am currently training for a half marathon, and I do CrossFit 4-5 times per week. I was wondering, what is your running/CrossFit schedule. Like you, I’m not willing to give up CrossFit, but I know I still need to be running (just don’t want to push myself into an injury).

    Good luck on Sunday! I’ll be sending good vibes your way for sure.

  4. Rebecca (Bearca) says:

    Girl! You will ROCK THAT RACE. I just know it. Good vibes coming your way for sure. xoxo

  5. Erica says:

    Ha ha sound track in your head struggling. Love it. You have come so far, you are going to do so great!

  6. Mariah B says:

    Aw, Holly… you’re going to do amazing! We (yup, your people) all support you!

    And when or if you get tired of pounding that pavement on Sunday, remember who you’re doing it for… that girl in the mirror who was embarrassed to run 100 meters, that girl who has dedicated her life to becoming a better, fitter version of herself, and that very same girl who has the cahones to run 13-freaking-point-1 miles.

    That girl is pretty inspiring, if you ask me.

    Now, go show us who’s boss! 🙂

  7. Don’t worry, you’ll do great! Between your training and the race day excitement, you’ll be cruising! I ran my first (and probably only) half in May! I never thought I could run that far, but I put in the training miles and the race went great. Good luck 😀

  8. Kristabella says:

    You will be awesome! All the good running vibes will be sent your (and Sarah’s) way Sunday!!

    ROCK ON!!

  9. Jill says:

    You’ll be amazing!!! Good luck and I’m sending all kinds of positive running vibes to you ladies!!

  10. Cami Sebern says:

    Run Holly Run!
    Sending good running vibes and love from snowy Colorado.

  11. HOLY FUCK I FEEL UNPREPARED. But this post helped. Thanks friend! I seriously couldn’t have done it without you. Oh wait, I haven’t done anything yet EEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. I’m so excited for you! I remember my first half marathon and finishing is SUCH an amazing feeling. This post is so full of hope & inspiration it makes me want to run to the gym! Keep up the great work and GOOD LUCK this weekend. I’ll be thinking happy thoughts for you guys.

  13. Rose-Anne says:

    Oh my gosh, yay! I’m so excited for you. I think the first time you race a particular distance is very, very exciting–I can still remember my first half back in 2007. So go out there, have fun, stay hydrated, stay fueled, and ENJOY! The feeling at the end of that 13.1 miles will be worth every step of the race.

  14. Kate says:

    Holly, I am so excited for you and I can’t wait to read all about it! I will be sending fun, happy, speedy running vibes on your and Sarah’s direction Sunday morning. Go get ’em!

  15. K says:

    I will most definitely be sending you good, slow-and-steady vibes come Sunday morning.

    And in a non-creepster way, I thought of you this past Saturday morning when I went to a boot camp class at my gym. Oh my goodness, Holly. I was the last in every drill. I was the last in every sprint. Everything was just so very, very hard and new. I wanted to cry and barf.

    I remembered your stories of persevering and not giving up through CrossFit (and now running) and I somehow made it to the end. Now I won’t be ever going back to that class, but thank you for being inspiring and keeping me from passing out last Saturday at my gym. : )

  16. Shannon says:

    Girl, YOU’VE GOT THIS!!! If you start freaking out at any point, my favorite mantras are “I can do anything for 10 more minutes” “just get to the next mile mark” and “I’m still running”

    I think a great way to attack your race is an easy 7 miler, then pick it up a little for the next 5k, and then YOU ONLY HAVE A 5K, KICK SOME ASS GIRL.

    I have a great internal coach that is the combination of various running mentors and coaches from over the years. Just finished a marathon on Sunday, it was a half hour slower than my other three but I DID IT and you are totally going to kill this race!

  17. Beth says:

    How exciting!!! I will be sending lots of juju on Saturday morning. I like to take a drink at every water station because 1) it keeps me hydrated the whole race and 2) it gives me something to do to break up the long stretches. Can’t wait to read your race report!

  18. Emily says:

    Good luck, girl!! Where I’m at right now, I just can’t imagine ever running that far without dying, so it’s inspirational to see you doing it even though at one point it was something you thought you couldn’t do. Definitely will be thinking of you Sunday morning and sending positive waves your way!

  19. bethanyrx says:

    The first time I ran a half marathon, I was coming into the last mile or so, and feeling like I could just die. The road curved and turned into the last straight stretch with the finish line at the end, and it just seemed SO.FAR.AWAY. at that point. All of a sudden, something caught my eye and I looked over to my right to see two girls holding a sign that said “Go, Bethany, Go!” I most certainly didn’t know them (the only person there to cheer for me was my mom, and she was already at the finish line). I started laughing out loud… it was the boost I needed to get to the finish. 😉

    Love you girl… kick some tail!

    xoxo, B

  20. Cara says:

    You’re such an inspiration. You can totally do this, run..walk.. it doesnt matter, I know you’re gonna finish strong!

  21. rockermocking says:

    Yay for the half marathon! Yeah, as far as exercising is concerned, while it’s great for the heart, brain, and lungs, a lot of research is popping up that it doesn’t help with weight loss as exercising more only makes us eat more and slow slow down our metabolism at other times of the day (like sleeping) to keep our energy expenditure in check. (this: and this: for interested folks)

    I want to be able to run more but my asthma keeps me on the sidelines so I just walk a lot. Good luck on running, you’ll do great!

  22. Alona says:

    Girl, you are going to do great. I cried at the end of my first half marathon for all that I had accomplished (I too used to be unhappy with my body and quite out of shape).

    You have come so far already. Race day is another opportunity to celebrate that. 🙂

    Sending great vibes!!!

  23. Esther says:

    How was the marathon?? 😀 And congrats on running one! I ran my first ever 5k (zombie mud run) on the 20th, and I was really amazed by myself & proud. Plus, it was a lot of fun! I’m still recovering (shin splints), but want to practice running more, and want to eventually build up to a half marathon. I’m also going to join a CF gym~

    Hope you had fun!

    And my goal was the same as yours… to just finish!

  24. Kara says:

    This was a great post! How do you mix crossfit and running, i am now training for my first half marathon (in maui in january rought i know) and i want to make sure i can train for maui but still crossfit as it is my sanity.

    thanks 🙂

    • Holly says:

      Girl, you are doing this RIGHT! Half marathon in Maui…hmmm, I may need to start trolling for 2013 races. LOL As for training I read a lot of stuff about the CrossFit Endurace Method (though I didn’t quite follow it to a T.) The oversimplified overview is that basically running long distances takes Muscle Strength (13 miles requires that your legs don’t fatigue quickly) and Cardiovascular Endurance (obvs, right?) So lifting heavy, working some sprint days into your normal CrossFit training (which I actually would just do before and after a wod) and then running one long run per week is basically exactly what I did. Doing that will definitely allow you to finish, but I think I could have worked harder to improve speed and efficiency etc. I basically did this:
      M: CrossFit
      T: CrossFit plus sprints (the CrossFit Endurance site has some good sprint workouts)
      W: rest
      Th: CrossFit
      F: CrossFit
      S: Long Run (adding on one mile per week of distance. My final “long run” was only about 9 miles)
      S: Rest

      Like I said, not very scientific and probably not super efficient, but I totally finished no problem. And it was a hilly course! Good luck to you!!!! Let me know how it goes.