The first step is the hardest, and other lessons learned from running


Getting started

On a cold sunny day in December of 2008, my brother-in-law was in his last week of life, and it was time for the Pittsboro Reindeer Run. This 5k race (3.1miles) is a favorite community race in Chatham County, and I was meeting my girlfriend Tara there. She runs regular marathons and is a great role model of mine.

For some reason, I had decided to run this race. Tired, strung out and not well trained, I met Tara at Central Carolina Community College to run. We took off together and I quickly realized that I was in no shape to do this. Tara sweetly stayed with me the whole time. I’m sure it was extremely frustrating to not just shoot ahead, but her sympathy for me was overwhelming as I walked, jogged and limped to the finish line with her. We lost Mark a few days later.

Feeling the benefits

Fast forward 6 years and I decide to go on sabbatical drive across the country, and also to train for a half marathon. I had lots of time on the road, and running provides me with time to focus and figure out my life.

I find that, while training, I have deeper and clearer thinking. Solutions for challenges often pop into my mind.  Deciding to run every day, and to push myself, really helped me make the most of my sabbatical.

Crossing the finish line of the half marathon last year.
Crossing the finish line of the half marathon last year.


Another incredible thing about training is that it’s a great stress reliever. About ten minutes after a run, the endorphins kick in, and I couldn’t be happier.

I highly recommend starting a training program.  Start slow and steady and build up over time. There are many online programs to help you plan your training regimen. I used Hal Higdon’s.

What I learned from running:

Some metaphoric lessons for me from training for the half marathon were:

  • Taking the first step is the hardest.  Once you start, you just put one foot in front of the other until you get to the finish line.
  • Rest is just as important as work. I forget that often.
  • Focus.  Sometimes you have to get rid of all distractions, by doing something meditative like running, to really focus your mind.
  • Accountability.  After a long run, I would reward myself by texting my husband, Lyle, and my colleague, Jenny.  That motivated me to keep going. It helps to share the joys and concerns in one’s life.
  • Being here now.  I learned the value of taking things day by day, mile by mile and sometimes minute by minute.

Whether you run, swim, bike, do yoga or whatever, our bodies are meant to move. We perform much better physically, emotionally and mentally with exercise, the magic pill.

Many thanks to my running mentors: Jenny Schnaak, Jessalyn Kiesa and thank you to Tara Allden for sticking with me!

Join us for our upcoming Earth Day Community 5K Run at Briar Chapel this April 25th.  Even if you haven’t been training, maybe this race will ignite a fire under you to train for your own half marathon one day!

Runners in the Earth Day 5K.
Runners in the Earth Day 5K.


More info about the Earth Day 5K this weekend:

Earth Day 5k & Kids’ Dash
@ Briar Chapel, Chatham County
April 25th, 2014 @ Briar Chapel’s Great Meadow
8:00 am race-day registration | 9:00 am 5k start

More info –