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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In Which McPeak Shares Her Story on How She Became a Runner (old news, but whatever!)

WORD - Happy Hump Day!  Is this actually gonna be my third blog post in a row, day-wise?  Could very well be!  As I get back to using Blank Page on a daily basis, I'm realizing that I started a lot of posts that really should be shared at some point - especially since Charles, Phoebe, and I are launching Silver Peak's going to be important to tell my story.  

Today's story is about how I became a runner.  

Seriously - who would have thought Kris McPeak would ever love running?  Not me.  I was the last person you could convince.

Because, see, I WAS a runner before.  In high school.  But not because I wanted to.  It was to fit in.  I was a musician in Junior High; and had we stayed in the Chicago area for my high school years, I would surely have pursued the high school orchestra and continued being a violinist.  But we moved to Waldron, Arkansas....and they don't have violins in the Bulldog Marching Band :(

So - in 9th grade i joined the track team.  I became a "sprinter" for the 880 relay team.  I also learned to somewhat effectively run the 880 meter "run".  That's a half mile.  ONE.  HALF.  MILE.  And I mostly hated it.  

Come 10th grade, I became a member of the Senior High Girls Track Team (and volleyball team - which I loved).  Coach Gaile Hainley practically BEGGED me to run the 2-mile run.  I definitely squelched.  Not interested.  Thank goodness - i guess - she didn't force me.  Because she had Dorothy to run it.  So, once again, let's just call me a sprinter and leave it at that.

Fast forward to...2007.  I lose my father to lung cancer.  My sister Jennifer finishes her first full marathon.  I am the first person she calls.  And about 18 months later, she forwards me an email from Team in Training.  They raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.  And they train you to run endurance events.  

"Kris, I have this GREAT idea!  Let's both join the TNT teams in our area, and let's raise money for cancer research!  I'll come to San Diego, we'll run this race together, and do it in memory of our dad!  Come on, let's do it!!"

I wasn't convinced.  I'm not a distance runner (I'm not a runner at all anymore!).  But she was insistent.  So i said - "Okay, let me train for a half marathon first...and if I like it, I will sign up for Team in Training."

So I did.  I registered for the 2009 Santa Barbara Half Marathon that took place in November - and began training in July.  When it gets sunny early and ti's very warm in the early parts of the day.  II was in exceptional shape that summer with the help of Weight Watchers.  I had lost 50 pounds between March 2008 and March 2009.   Running came easy to me and I was surprised how much I began to enjoy it.  Come November, I d ran my race and was thrilled that I got a t-shirt and a medal, too!  My main goal was to run the entire race and no walking.  And I made that goal with a finish time of 2:17.     Which, looking back now makes me feel slow because I've had much faster times, but for my first race, i think this was pretty kick ass.

Okay, little sister, you are on!  I'm totally in!!   I told Jenny that I wass  going to do it and i registered for the IE/OC Team in Training summer seaason.  I  would be running the San Diego Rock and Roll fuull marathon on June 7, 2010.   I  attended the kick off in January and met  my mentor Molly  - the woman who would becoomemy best friend. WWe beggan training on Saturdays - and because Molly lived close to me, we would run at least one day together during the week.  

Molly was one of the coolest things to come out of my jurney to running.  WWe would race together over the next three eyars, we would go on vaaction togehter, our hustbands got along famously, we both love wine and food and movies, she taught me to knit, and we basically just love spending time with each other.  From the day I met Molly until the day I moved away to Chico, we spent a great deal of time together.  We plotted out races together and more than half of my half-marathons were run with her.  I sure do adore her.

But back to Rock and Roll Marathon Training.  We ran every Saturday at a park in Riverside or Rancho Cucamonga.  Our coach, Stuart Holland, was an accomplished runner and was a good soul.  He was very soft spoken but also very supportive and helpful.  However, I got along better with Dustin Keen, our assistant coach and the husband of our Team Manager (Taylor).  Dustin was a train runner and ultra-marathoner, and he had this completely easy way about him.  He could carry on a conversation with you and look you right in the face during a long run.  It was uncanny, but I really responded to it because running with him made me feel strong and empowered and talented.  

Week after week, the miles increased.  6 miles, 8 miles, 10 miles and so forth.  We got to our 20 mile run at the Santa Ana River Trail and I felt really REALLY strong.  I realized that I was becoming a leader amongst the group because I was very disciplined and was actually kind of fast.  There were people on the team who were great fundraisers and had more marathon experience than I, but I was not a slouch.

The fundraising part was equally as tasking as the running sometimes.  I had to come up with creative ways of making money that was not just writing letters to my friends and asking them to give.  Team in Training makes it easy for you - you just set up your website, you can do a blog or a journal, there are letter templates and all sorts of suggestions.  I definitely surpassed my goal and earned nice TNT incentives like socks, coffee mugs, duffle bags, etc.  

Meanwhile, I was having this great and amazing experience, I was really getting in to the running and the fundraising - and I realized that I hadn't checked in with my sister.  I figured I would call her, see how her experience was working out.

"Oh, hey, know, I realized that work has been really busy and I haven't set up my fundraising yet.  But I'm definitely going to start back up soon."

--Jenny, what about your running?  Your team?  Do you like your coach?  How's your training?

"Would you believe I haven't been to a team practice yet?  They don't work out here in Pottsville, so it's hard to get to practice."

So now I'm starting to have doubts.  But at this point I'm not sure I care.  I'm having the time of my life and I'm really enjoying the experience.  I no longer care if Jenny is fundraising or not.  I still remain positive that we'll be running together in June.  

Molly and I train with the team - I start to feel like I am a runner!  I focus and train and ask questions and participate in fundraising...and think about what happens after the race.  I'm loving how strong I'm feeling and and that I could be really good at this.  

We get closer to the date and I want to check in with my sister again.  But this time she lets me know that she won't make it to San Diego.  Works has been really busy, it's hard to train and it's hard to fundraise.  Sorry, Kris, but I won't be there.  

WTF???  This was all her idea!!!  What have I been busting my butt for?  Well, I was angry for a few minutes but I got over it.  Because even though this idea was hers, the experience has now become mine.  And even if I won't be racing with my sister, I know have my entire TNT team behind me and I have a new friend in Molly.  This is so very cool.  

The 20 mile run at the Santa Ana River Trail was amazing.  Dustin Keen is my savior , he helps me finish.  In particular, I have to laugh when I think about being out of water and Dustin running with me around mile 18.  He tells me that if I start seeing halos towards the end, I need to let him know.  That was way hysterical.  I felt wonderful.  I was ready to race!

Race Day arrives and we head to the race expo.  It's HUGE.  I've  never seen anything like this.  I completely avoid all the samples and tastings because as Coach Stuart says, "Nothing New on Race Day."  Charles gets a little tired of all this, and who could blame him.  Still, we have a great time and make some fun purchases.  It's now the night before the race and we are all having dinner at the VERY LARGE Team in Training banquet.  I'm amazed at the stories...and how much people have raised in funds!  There were some people who raised more than my University of Redlands salary  at the time!!  It was amazing.  Then the dinner was over and it was time to get some rest.  

Oh...I'm not really able to sleep right away.  I'm so excited, so nervous, so unsure of what the day will be like.  We get up, meet the full team in the lobby, I eat my race day breakfast.  It's like 3am.  We have to jump on a bus and head to the start line, and there will be a lot of waiting around.  I have a throwaway sweatshirt and sweatpants - it's kind of chilly.  But it's going to be a warm day.  Eventually we can head to our corrals and get ready to start.  It still takes us 45 minutes to cross the start line.  And now we are off and running.  

I feel strong, I feel happy, I'm with my team, life is good. knee starts hurting around the middle of mile two.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Looking back on this, I know it's because I over-trained.  But was I going to drop out of this race?  HELL NO.  So I push through the pain.  It's not awful...yet.  All I care about is keeping a good pace and trying to run the entire time.

At mile 8, Molly and another runner pull off the course and stop to stretch.  I'm feeling okay and I don't want to stop.  So I keep going.  I'm pretty much running with one other TNT person at this point, and we are not talking.  We are just in the zone.  Eventually, that TNT person has to stop and walk, so I'm on my own.  I catch a teammate named Nancy and I run with her for a good long while.  We get to mile 22 or so when she says, "I need to walk".  And I opt to walk a little myself.  WHY WHY WHY!!?  If I had not walked, I would have finished under five hours.  Of course, I don't realize this just yet.  I think I walk for about five minutes and then I pick up and run again because if I don't get to running again I'm not going to finish running.  I have to leave Nancy behind, but that's the way it is.

I get to just before Mile 26 and Dustin appears on the course.  He finished the half-marathon a couple hours before and he helps me get prepared to run it on in.  He tells me to push ahead, to keep my elbows in because there's a ton of people cheering, and to just get to that finish line.  I am so happy to see him and I'm so happy to be almost done, and I can't believe I am going to finish a FULL FUCKING MARATHON!  WOOT WOOT WOOT!

I cross the finish line and it's looks like about 5 hours of running.  WOW.  I get that medal, put it on and then I see Taylor Keen.  She was our main support with training, fundraising, and keeping this team together.  And I break out in tears.  I'm so happy to see her, so proud to have been on this team, and proud to have finished.  

I'm going crazy now trying to find Molly or my hubby and there are SO many people at the finish line that I can't even use my phone.  I make my way to the family meet up area (which, by the way, is set up by last name/alpha, that's how many people are there!) and I finally see Charles and I'm so relieved!  He has flowers for  me and Molly.  I'm so thrilled that we are done and that we did it!  We are now just anxious to get back to our hotel, have an ice bath, and eat!

There's a Team in Training "after party" but we decide not to attend.  Instead, me and Charles have a private dinner with Molly and her hubby Lyle.  And we have a blast together.  The men realize that they are totally best buds and have more in common than we realized.  It's exciting to think that we are going to have married friends for real!  

So, while my journey to running is different and unique, it's a happy ending and the bottom line is that I've found a hobby that I love, friends that I adore, and have partially inspired my husband to jump into age group athletics as well.  Thanks for reading :)  More to come!!

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