Run Kelly Run (part 1)

22 09 2010
2010 Country Music 1/2 Marathon

Matthew and me after having completed our 2nd 1/2 marathon.

This is my story of how I went from being an asthmatic who couldn’t run one lap around a track without collapsing to completing ½ marathons.

I was diagnosed with asthma when I was three or four years old.  Until the last few years of my life, my asthma was pretty bad and hard to regulate.  Physical exertion such as climbing a set of stairs, laughing too hard, breathing in cold air or even eating ice cream could all trigger that familiar, unpleasant sensation of my airways swelling, my shoulders tightening, my neck straining, and my chin itching. 

(Side note:  My chin always itched.  Even to this day, my chin itches when I start wheezing.  I’ve never really researched why that is, but if anyone has an explanation, I’d love to hear it.)

I was a gymnast in high school.  (You can read about that experience on my post “My Score Was a 2.7.”)  I really did love the sport, but it was also one of the few sports where I didn’t have to worry about extreme cardiovascular exertion during practice or competition.  Even vault only required a sprint of 3-4 seconds.  My body could handle that.

Fast forward a couple of decades to after I had my first son, and I wanted to lose the last few pounds of baby weight.   At the time, the only way I’d ever really exercise was to pay a ridiculous amount of money for it, so I joined a gym.  I tried various aerobic classes, but they just didn’t work.  Then I focused my energy on the treadmill in the cardio cinema; not so much because I liked being on a treadmill, but I really enjoyed watching a movie while I worked out.  Over the next year, I slowly built up my endurance to being able to run for longer stretches of time without needing to walk, although I was very, very slow.

In 2006, I started running with a few friends, and we continued to work on how long we could run, not really worrying about our time.  We decided to sign up for a Fourth of July 5K together.  The race was miserably hot, even at 7:00 a.m., and my time was between 33-34 minutes.  Not bad for someone who—throughout her childhood and even into college—couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without wheezing.

I continued to run half-heartedly until I got pregnant with my second child in 2007.  I took a year off and didn’t run again until May of 2008.  That’s when it turned into something major.  I literally ran my butt off that summer trying to lose all my pregnancy weight before I had to go back to school in August.  I succeeded in that goal, and then a friend suggested I train for the Music City ½ Marathon in April 2009.  My small group of friends all signed up, and I joined them, unsure of what I was really getting myself into.

Training for a ½ marathon is a part-time job, but I endured.  I was amazed each week as my mileage increased.  Running three miles was standard, but then I hit the four-mile mark.  Then five miles.  Then I was running 10 miles at a stretch.  My asthma wasn’t bothering me anymore, either!

At the start line with my two friends, I got so emotional I actually started crying.  I was so overwhelmed thinking about where I had been just a few years earlier to what I was about to accomplish that day.  (Side note:  crying while running makes running really difficult.)  The three of us prayed together, and then we were off!  I developed some knee pain—which I never experienced before—and I had to walk the last three miles, but I did finish with a time of 2.51:14.  I had met my goals of simply finishing, on my feet, without puking or passing out.

2009 Country Music 1/2 and 1/1 Marathon start line  (30,000+ runners)

I'm in the last row on the left wearing a pink t-shirt.

2009 Country Music 1/2 and 1/1 Marathon start line  (30,000+ runners)

I'm still in the last row on the left wearing a pink t-shirt.

2009 Country Music 1/2 and 1/1 Marathon start line  (30,000+ runners)

I'm on the far bridge in the last row on the left wearing a pink t-shirt.

Matthew, Kelly, Phyllis, Echo

Finished! I'm in the front row second from left wearing a pink t-shirt and am surrounded by my running buddies: husband Matthew and dear friends Phyllis and Echo.

After that, I continued running regularly, doing an occasional 5K.  However, I started focusing on my time.  I had been running at an 11-minute mile, and I wanted to get that down.  Over the next year, I got my time down to a 9.5 minute mile, and I completed my second ½ marathon this April with a time of 2.27:55.  My goal next year is to finish under 2.11:00.

I am currently working toward a 9-minute mile for an extended run, and I’m competing in a relay race from Chattanooga to Nashville this November—the Ragnar Relay.  There are 10 members on our team, and we each run about three legs, running non-stop through the night.  I am super excited about this, but my training is about to change radically in October.  I’ll start running three times in a 24-hour period, building up my mileage each week.  The week before the race, I’ll be doing three five-mile runs:  one at about 9:00 p.m., one at 7:00 a.m., and another around 5:00 p.m.  I’m sure I’ll blog about that experience when it’s over.

The biggest blessing running has had on my life is that my asthma rarely bothers me.  As a young child, I was on 3-4 different medications that I had to take several times a day, and I still often wound up in the ER in the middle of the night on many occasions due to my asthma.  Even throughout college, I struggled with asthma and could not participate in activities that required a lot of physical exertion.  As a teen, I was also just plain lazy.  I once asked my parents if we could drive to our neighbor’s house for dinner.  Our back door and their front door were about 20 feet away from each other.  Today, I can run for a couple hours with nary a puff of my emergency inhaler, and I’m getting faster having shaved almost two minutes per mile off my pace in the last 18 months.  I like to joke that if I continue improving at that rate, I’ll be the fastest runner in the world in a few years.

Running has taught me that nothing is impossible.  For my first ½ marathon, I wore a t-shirt that had this saying on the back from Philippians 4:13.  “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Amen to that!

I’ve downplayed the role of my friends throughout this running adventure over the past four years.  I run mostly solo these days, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without their constant encouragement and prayers.  I also wouldn’t be where I am without the amazing support of my husband through all this training, considering the time it takes away from him and my children.

There’s a lot more to my story.  Someday soon, I’ll post about why, despite all the incredible ways I’ve been blessed through running, I still hate it.  Stay tuned. . .




18 responses

22 09 2010
Marathon Training Program - Marathon Training Tips

[…] / Current Events  Related Links:A Mother's MarathonRun Kelly Run (part 1) To Kick a Pigeon and Other MusingsTrain for a Marathon in Six Weeks Healthy Tipping PointWordless Wednesday: Tower of Strength :: […]

22 09 2010

Love your running story! Thanks for sharing this. Makes me want to write my own running story! 🙂

27 09 2010

Thanks Echo. I would love to read your running story sometime. For now, I’ll settle for a recap of the 1/2 you just finished.

26 09 2010

This is a really inspiring story!

27 09 2010

Thanks Alex.

27 09 2010

I didn’t know that you were a runner or that you had asthma. Congratulations on overcoming that obstacle!

27 09 2010

I could never run like that…congrats 🙂

27 09 2010

I bet if you were being chased by a cannibal intent on making you dinner, you could run pretty fast. 🙂

27 09 2010

I used to have severe problems with asthma as well, it’s just miserable. Great work!

27 09 2010

Does your asthma still bother you? It took years to train my body to be able to handle the kind of cardio activity that running requires, but it is soooo worth it.

27 09 2010
Hunter Schleicher

I can relate to this in so many ways! I had terrible asthma when I was little and had to take breathing treatments every day. I’ve outgrown it for the most part, but every day before I run my usual 3-4 miles I have to take my inhaler. I have never ran an actual marathon but hope to very soon!!

27 09 2010

I had no idea you had asthma or were a runner, too. Very cool. Once you do your first 1/2 (or full) marathon, you will be hooked. There’s no going back.

27 09 2010

Congrats on both of your half-marathons! I know from experience how difficult it can be to train. Both of my parents are huge athletes, so they exercise non-stop. That’s quite a feat! Keep working hard at good luck with the over-night run you will be doing!
p.s. i love the captions for your pictures haha

27 09 2010

Thanks Jordyn. I spent a lot of time working on those captions. HA!

27 09 2010

Congratulations! I know from experience that running is rough…it takes a lot of guts to keep running through 13+ miles.

29 10 2010
Hunter Schleicher

I am running my first 5k on Thanksgiving! I have also decided to run track this year since I’m not doing basketball cheerleading. I’m very excited because I’ve never participated in any other sport.

31 10 2010

Good for you Hunter! It will be exciting and challenging for you branching out into other sports; I admire your courage to do so. Good luck with your first 5K on Thanksgiving. You’ll have to tell me about it when we get back from break.

10 01 2012
Run Kelly Run (part 2) « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] (A continuation from Run Kelly Run (part 1)) […]

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