I started running seven years ago. At first, it started as a way to be healthier, but then I begin to enjoy it. I got excited about achieving small victories: being able to run a mile, running for 30 minutes nonstop, completing a 5K distance. I have not run continuously over the past seven years, but it is a form of exercise I can always come back to.
I moved to Grand Rapids in 2015. From my downtown apartment, I often woke up to the sounds of people cheering for various races whose courses passed by my window. I did not do much running when I moved here, but I noticed how frequently there were runners on the sidewalks – at all times of year! I decided I was going to start running regularly again, and I picked the River Bank Run’s 25K distance as my goal. The longest I had ever run was 10 miles, so I had some work to do. I looked up training schedules online, altered a half-marathon plan, and took off. I finished the race and proudly displayed my first running medal.
The weird thing about training for a race is what to do in the weeks after the race is over. I was still running, but I had less invested in my runs. They were all “easy” runs, and I had no schedule to check and see what my mileage for the day would be. I got antsy and wanted to train for another race, but I did not want to do it on my own. So, I joined Gazelle Sports’ summer run camp. Here I found a running community, while before I did not know these kinds of groups existed for amateur runners like myself. The veteran runners were very encouraging, and I learned so much: that I prefer running with others, that I can run without listening to music, that other people have the same problems with blisters and chafing (but that there are helpful solutions). I loved the run camp training, and with that coaching, I ran my first marathon.
Now, I am on a new running adventure: as a Road Warrior for the Fifth Third River Bank Run. This was the race that introduced me to serious training, that made me feel like I could call myself a “runner,” and that showed me just how big the Grand Rapids running community is. I am excited to run with a group of people who enjoy this race as much as I do.