The Road To 50k: First Steps

I wasn’t always a runner. Although I’ve engaged in what you might call endurance sports (specifically cycling and hiking) for most of my adult life, my running career didn’t begin until 2013. Prior to that, running was a gym class punishment at best. It was a schoolyard humiliation, not something I willingly did for hours on end.

After reading Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run and becoming captivated by his gonzo retellings of trail races and ultramarathons, though, the idea of completing a marathon became a “bucket list” item to check off before reaching my 35th birthday. Daylong bike trips were a regular part of my life, after all, so branching out into road running seemed like a reasonable challenge. It didn’t hurt that my then-apartment was actually located along the course of Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon and I found the excitement of that annual event to be contagious.

My Little King's Mile race medal and shirt.
My very first race medal. Victory is mine! The cat is adequately impressed.

I can still recall signing up for my very first race – 2013’s Little King’s Mile (recently rebranded as the Fifty West Mile) – and spending the following hours awash in anxiety. Anxious … over a mile-long race. I had never run alongside a large group of people before, though. Would I be trampled? What if I tripped? What if I went out too hard and couldn’t finish? What if I had to go to the bathroom? The pessimistic possibilities were endless.

Despite my neurotic premonitions, I completed that mile just fine. More miles – and more races – followed. I ended up completing that first marathon, too, on the eve of my 35th birthday in 2014. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fast, but it happened. What began as a “one and done” proposition became an ongoing obsession. I now knew that I could finish a marathon, but could I finish a marathon in under 4 hours? How about 3:45? How about 3:30?

It took several additional marathons before I started getting serious about my training: not just running, but also strength training and cross training. I began to spend countless hours on road and trails, in spin classes and yoga classes, pouring sweat at Beyond Exercise, and more. Slowly my finishing times improved and my goals got loftier.

And so I’ve now come full circle. Another milestone birthday – my 40th– is a few short months away. With it comes another bucket list challenge: my first 50k – the Forget the PR Mohican 50k – on April 6, 2019. I’ve decided to try to chronicle my path to my first 50k here. I’ll share the ups and downs of my training season and you’re welcome to follow along through the trials, the traumas, the tantrums, and maybe even the triumphs. I can’t promise it will be smooth, but I’ll try to keep it interesting. Let’s see where this road takes us …

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