By Rachel Langley – Johnston
I wasn’t a runner. Ever. The only time you’d hear me even squeak out a word about a desire to run involved being chased by a pack of very hungry, but very slow-moving zombies.
That was a mere 3 years ago. And now, here I sit, typing away confessing to you my most unlikely of addictions…half marathons. Yes, as in running 13.1 miles for FUN. How did a girl like me, who would only run if chased by the latest hatching of The Walking Dead, end up a half marathon addict? I won’t bore you with too many “I love running!” details, but I’ll give you a little insight.
In the fall of 2012, I decided to run my first 5k in memory of both my mother and grandfather. The motivation to begin this beastly thing called “running” was for those I had loved and lost. It seemed clear-cut. But the motivation to continue on quickly peaked as a personal craving desired by my heart, my head and my soul, which, from what I’ve read, is a common transformation for even the most resistant of newly baptized runners.
In early 2013, I got brazen and decided it was time this 5k and 10k gal step it up. And boy did I. I registered for the September 2013 Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Providence. I trained for months, envisioning myself as a lean, mean and injury-free half marathon running machine.
Such was not the case.
I pushed too hard, too fast and got injured in late May 2013. A groin pull for the record books. Just walking was a challenge the first few weeks and as we moved into sweltering summer months, I backed off the dream of completing my first half marathon. I hobbled my way through long walks and spin bike sessions to work the muscles back into shape. By mid-August I was feeling human again, and with that timing came the email from R n R Half Marathon organizers. It included convention information, packet pick-up advice and lastly…the key part of the drug I never knew I needed…my half marathon BIB NUMBER.
I couldn’t resist it. I felt the adrenaline pump kick in and wanted a taste of what the half marathon experience was all about. Training picked back up with only about a month and half until the start line stared me down. I wanted a fix of something I’d never had. I was running much slower (thanks, groin pull gods), and simply because I couldn’t bear the thought of experiencing another injury so close to Rock n Roll Half Marathon race date. I’d make this dream a reality, and I did. The finishing time may not have been impressive to others, but to me, with only a month and half of training behind me, my 3hr 47min time was welcome. I crossed the finish line smiling from ear to ear. The high was like nothing before, a high I swore I’d never need another fix for. It felt as if I’d be on cloud nine forever. Eventually I lowered my landing gear and touched back down on solid ground.
Clearly one half marathon wasn’t going to be enough.
Not too long after completion of my first, I was scouting event sites and lurking on Rhode Island runner forum boards. I tried to decide which half marathon event pushers…I mean half marathon event organizers….would get my cash. I needed to feel that finish line vibe all over again.
It was the Cox Providence Rhode Race Half Marathon in May of 2014 that bent my ear, winked its knowing wink and got me to pony up the money to run it. Just one more race, I thought. A two-time half marathoner sounded better than a one-time thing. Twice proved it was no accident. Just one more time. So I told myself. I completed the Cox Half with a new personal record (PR ) on a beautiful, but warm spring day. By a slim 2 minutes, my time was 3hr 45min. I danced in the joy of my new PR. But a feeling took over, what if I could beat THAT time. And then a massive rush of “what if’s” and then this thought grasped me…
What if I trained even better the THIRD time and got a new PR to beat them all?
I felt the giddiness take over and the butterflies in my stomach doing their victory dance as I submitted once more to lurking and stalking new, more scenic half marathons. Downtown Providence, although beautiful, had been done twice. I needed something NEW. Something tempting me and my money, and offering a fix like never before. It took a while, and while I considered the thought that my weightlifting was plenty to keep me challenged, and a fantastic fix all on its own – I still kept my eyes open.
And then, like a beacon from a virtual street corner, I saw her. She was different, a new type of drug I hadn’t had yet sampled, sights and sounds that I had not yet experienced. It was love at first sight and my addiction was cemented. Number three, the Gansett Half Marathon on November 2nd of this year. Its course is scenic, expansive and by the ocean. The time of year…perfection!
Yes, this will be my second half marathon within one year. And my third half marathon in total. My addiction vindicated by “…just one more race.”
No one, and I mean no one, could be more surprised by this unlikely desire and craving to continually push myself those 13.1 miles. I find the start line and the finish line to be the most exhilarating. And, of course, at some point during those long miles, you swear to yourself “I’ll never do this again.”
But then you do. Because it is the healthiest of addictions. And it is one that feeds your heart, your mind and your spirit. It is proof that a runner’s high exists and that it is the best of the best. Happily, I’m back running my old pre-injury pace, and for that I thank my strength training.
I feel a potentially potent new PR on the horizon and the adrenaline of that thought has me buzzing. But I’m certain that three will be my lucky number, and that once I’ve completed THREE, I will have broken the addictive cycle of half marathon racing. Right?
And then I realize, like any true addiction, admitting you have a problem is the first step. So with that, my name is Rachel Langley, and I’m a half marathon addict.
Rachel Langley is a passionate fitness enthusiast, runner and founder of Body Made Better Fitness. She is certified as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor through IFA and currently studying for her secondary trainer certification through NASM. She is a certified Train Dirty Fitness Bootcamp Instructor and Brand Ambassador for SwirlGear. You may learn more about Rachel and Body Made Better Fitness at www.bodymadebetter.com!