Disclaimer: I received Gatorade Endurance products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Gatorade features many professional athletes and their journey in endurance sports for their “My Fuel. My Journey” campaign. As a BibRave Pro, I got to join in and am tackling my own journey fueled by Gatorade Endurance. Some of the pros are coming back from injury and some are tackling a new distance; my journey is all about coming back to running after having a baby! Read on about my journey with running from the very beginning….
(Writer’s disclaimer: This post took me a long time to write, but I’m really proud of it. It is really long, so get comfy. Grab a snack and please read on!)
If you’ve been following this blog since the beginning, you may know all about my journey with running, or at least big parts of it. I write about it on my “about me” page of this blog. However, many of you have only started following me recently and I thought it would be fun to share my FULL running story and how it’s evolved for me over the last 20ish years.
I can track my running journey back to 1999 when I did my first ever race with my Mom. We did the Race For The Cure as a way to support my Grandma who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Back then, races were all about cotton tee shirts, lots of food at the finish line, and wearing your bib on your back (oh the horrors)! I don’t even remember if the race was timed but I do remember that my mom and I were so motivated to run and finish each year. We would run and walk every other traffic light, breaking up the race to motivate ourselves to the finish line. These races were my first introduction to running. I didn’t really play sports as a kid and only remember running the mile on field day in elementary school because we had to.
When I got to high school, I joined the volleyball team and started my first real organized fitness program. Why volleyball? I don’t really know. I didn’t have friends that were joining (but I made fast friends on the team). I must’ve just decided I didn’t want to be a band nerd (not that that’s bad) and wanted to join a sport and picked volleyball. We ran a lot (around the gym to warm up and suicide drills on the courts) and were required to take advanced weight training in school. I loved it! I loved every aspect of training; weight lifting, running, and game days. However, by the time of my senior year, and the chance to be on varsity, our team had a lot of drama issues and I had a disagreement with the head coach. I decided volleyball wasn’t fun for me anymore (a lot of my friends had also left the team) and I decided to quit and switch sports. I still remember walking into the head coaches’ office with my uniform and gear and her saying, “If you can’t do it my way, then get out of here” and I left.
Being only a couple of weeks into the season, I was still able to join the cross country team and never looked back. Later in the school year, I also joined the track team as well, trying the different field events and eventually becoming a 400m, 800m, and a 1600m runner. My track season wasn’t anything special, although my fastest mile I have ever run is still from that year, but I really loved the sport and team aspect.
In college, since I wasn’t a fantastic athlete (I may have had the enthusiasm and drive, but frankly I was never that fast), I joined a couple of club volleyball teams and started running around campus and in the student gym as a way to stay fit and keep off those freshman 15 pounds. My friends and I did a few 5k’s here and there (the CSU Homecoming Race was a big one to join) and my Mom and I still did the Race for the Cure, but I wasn’t into the competitiveness of races.
In my last year of college (year five for me since I took a ‘victory lap’), I needed a way to stay motivated to stay in shape and decided to do a half marathon. I still couldn’t tell you where I got the idea, I don’t remember. I must’ve just saw a poster or looked online, but from my memory, it wasn’t that popular of a thing to do, at least I didn’t know anyone that didn’t things like this.
Of all the races I could have chosen, I signed up for the Horsetooth Half in Fort Collins (where I went to school). My boss at the vet clinic I was working at was also running it. I still remember the conversation between him and me:
Dr. Roe: “So you’re adding some hill training to your running?”
Me: “Hill training? What is that? Why would I need to do that?”
I had no idea how to train and was going off Hal Higdon’s training plan from his book. The race I chose had some INTENSE hills – I had no idea; I didn’t know to look at the corse maps ahead of time. I didn’t know how to alter my training plan to accommodate different variables. I didn’t really know much about training. All I knew is that by April 18th, 2010, I needed to be able to run 13.1 miles. My four roommates thought I was crazy when I would head out for runs after a night out of partying while they were still at home smoking pot.
When April 18th rolled around, I managed to finish my first half marathon. I don’t remember much about the race. I remember seeing the veterinarian I worked with at the start line. I remember being in the crowd, looking up at the road that wound up the dam thinking, “what in the world have I gotten myself into.” I don’t really remember much about finishing or the after-party. I can’t even find any pictures of the event. All I could find was one post on my facebook.
After my first racing event, I was hooked. I did a 5K in Longmont with my Mom that I place first in my age group at and I was introduced to the Bolder Boulder by my friend Joanna. My eyes were opened to a whole new world that still felt pretty exclusive at the time. I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty elite to be a runner and would get giddy when I would meet other runners.
In 2011, I only did the Bolder Boulder but was really trying to figure out this whole running thing. I was at a weird point in my life (job changes, relationship changes, and really just trying to figure out what I wanted in life in general) and I needed something to focus on. Really I need one aspect of my life that I could control. That became running. I started reading about running, figuring out training plans, and coming up with big goals. In 2012, I decided to start a blog and my idea and goal of running a race in every state blossomed.
I was dating a guy at the time that wrote a blog (a satyrical men’s advice and womanizing blog – yes, I still question my dating choices). While his blog subject was a little gruff, to say the least, I was introduced to the world of blogging at that time. I love to write, it has always been a passion of mine, and blogging felt natural. I’m not sure what came first, the idea to write a blog or my goal, but it was then I decided I wanted to run a race in every state. This would keep me focused, keep me training for races and thus in shape, and it would give me the inspiration to travel more. Racing the States was born!
In the first two years, I ran in 11 different states (if you also count Colorado). I had a blast planning my races, road trips and getting to see new places and old friends. I would usually travel by myself but a few times I would go with a friend or family member. I loved coming home and writing about my “post-race recap” and going through my pictures. Blogging also enabled me to meet more friends and that’s how I found 3W Races.
After running the Horsetooth Half for the third time, I found a blog post about the race by a guy named Ryan and we started communicating through our blogs (he had a photography blog). He invited me to run a race called the Resolute Runner 5k in Arvada, which happened to be where I’m from. He was photographing the event for his friends, the owners of 3W Races, and suggested I would like the racing company. I guess you could say the rest is history! I ran my first 3W race, ran a few more later that year, and then in the next year, I applied to become an ambassador. I was accepted and didn’t even make it a full year before they offered me a job! A REAL job within the running industry.
I guess I should add, during those years, I quit my job as a veterinary technician, not an easy decision, after a horrible experience working for a new clinic. I was jobless for a little while as I decided I needed a career change. Since I had been running and really enjoyed it, I decided to become a personal trainer (another inspiration from a different guy I dated that was also a personal trainer) because I loved the idea of helping people with running and getting in shape, something I was already doing for friends. I got a job at Bally Total Fitness and I went to a 7-month school called the National Personal Training Institute. I graduated with honors and got certified as a NASM Personal Trainer, RRCA Run Coach, and Heart Zones coach. I had dreams of owning my own business but struggled with the start-up and learning how to sell.
Along the way, I got an in coaching high school Cross Country and absolutely fell in love with coaching high school athletes. Some point in there, I was working a million jobs… coaching, personal training at a gym called Prestige Fitness, teaching group fitness at the local rec center, and picking up as many brand ambassador jobs as I could find (I was even Mr. Peanut once!). So, when I was offered a job, a REAL job, with a running company, I was thrilled. At first, it was only part-time, doing marketing and a few race-production tasks, but it evolved quickly. I quickly went from managing all the course volunteers (not an easy task by any means) to race directing my very own race, all by myself! Now, I race direct about 16 or more events per year. I have also learned how to time running events. I still coach cross country and track and I have started a rock-climbing business with my boyfriend (partner, husband, fiance, baby-daddy – whatever it is you want to call him).
In addition to changes with my career affecting running, relationships would always “get in the way” with running. Since the beginning of my blogging journey, when I really was getting into it, I went through lots of different boyfriends. Some would be super supportive, some started running themselves, some would be indifferent, some were runners themselves, but would never “slow down” for me, and some would encourage me to skip races I had signed up for. Clearly, the latter two wouldn’t last long, but it would still affect running for a brief time, going through periods of time when I would be serious about training and not so motivated. I’ve learned a lot since then and am so glad I met someone that supports me with whatever I want to do (quick PSA: seriously, people, never settle for a partner that doesn’t support what you love to do. They don’t have to join you, but they should support your passions!)
Why does my job and dating history have anything to do with my running journey? Because somewhere in there, amongst all the life changes and career mishaps, life got BUSY. That was okay, but I didn’t get to travel as much or get to train for races like I used to. Over the last few years, when I chose to do a race, it was a for a specific goal or for a special event or team and not many of those opportunities were out of the state. Really I didn’t do many races in the last few years. I’ve only run in 15 states since the start of my blog, my last 5K PR was in 2016 and my last half marathon PR was 2013, and I don’t get to do races as often as I would like for one reason or another. And that’s OKAY! I still look for races when I travel, selfishly working toward my goal. Because of all this, my blog evolved from being just about running a race in every state to more of a blog about my lifestyle. It’s now more about me finding ways to enjoy my true passions of traveling and running on top of a crazy life.
Bear with me now, we’re getting close to the end! Soon, something magical will happen.
It’s a baby. I had a baby and that’s the something magical.
Last year, 2018, was a busy year for both Ben and I. We were working on our business while I was working two other jobs but running was getting back to where I wanted it to be. We weren’t really planning on bringing a new human into our lives, but we are certainly overjoyed we did. It’s ironic because, as 2018 went on, I felt like I was getting stronger running-wise after a long period of decline. I became a BibRave Pro and was training like I used to. I was feeling good, strong and getting faster. Then October hit and I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so tired and running was going terrible. Sure enough, we soon figured out I was expecting.
Before, I always envisioned myself being one of those super cute pregnant ladies running half marathons with a cute baby bump, but that just wasn’t in the cards for me. For the first half of my pregnancy, I was trying to keep exercising as much as I could between the nausea and fatigue, but running wasn’t in the cards. Even with a barely visible baby bump, running did not feel good on my body. It was uncomfortable and made my belly hurt. Instead, I walked a lot, did the elliptical and lifted weights. Near the end of pregnancy, I didn’t get much exercise besides walking. I really missed running, but obviously wasn’t going to start running at eight months pregnant and big belly weighing me down. Pregnancy was a different kind of “marathon.” When Mr. Layton decided to join the world (one week late), I felt like I was at ground zero. I literally felt like I had never run before in my life.
And here we are at present time! I waited about four weeks before I went for my first run. My body was feeling pretty good after the trauma of childbirth, I loaded up on IBprofin (ladies, you know why), and I ran 1 mile! It was glorious and terrible all at the same time. I’m gradually building my miles back up, building my base, and have put some races on my calendar as motivation. I still haven’t decided what I want to do long-term with running (possibly try to qualify for Boston) but I’m working on getting back into it. It’s not easy and it’s certainly not pretty, but I’m doing it.
Running has evolved so much to me from my first Race for the Cure, to high school, to adult racing, to now. I know it will continue to evolve more! I still create goals all the time (for example, I still want to break 50 minutes in the 10k someday, run the Boston marathon from a qualifying time, and I’m always shooting for a new PR!) and I still look for races that inspire me, motivate me by giving me a timeline goal (or maybe for the really cool medal), or just to do them with a friend.
Over the years, I’ve had some great races and some really bad races. Most races are only okay! I’ve had long bouts of training and times when I wouldn’t get a run in for months. All of this is okay! While I love running and it’s a big part of my identity it isn’t my whole identity. I still want to run a race in every state, actually, now I want to run at least a half marathon in every state (because I want a medal from every state and will probably go back to the states that I ran less than a half marathon). I’m proud of my journey with running and glad I have a new human to share my passion with and set a good example of chasing one’s dreams and working hard.
Through my return back to running postpartum, I have Gatorade Endurance to fuel me!
The products I’ve been given to try are the gels and Gatorade Endurance powdered drink mix. My favorite flavors have been mango gels and the watermelon drink mix!
Learn more about Gatorade Endurance, click HERE.
Read more #MyFuelMyJourney stories, click here.