When you get to the part about The Loop, that is an explanation for my non-Loop readers on my other blog
"Chris is the girl that runs a lot..."
More and more things are becoming nostalgic triggers for me – certain 90’s songs, those Welch’s jelly jars that had cartoon characters on them, and the smell of running through the woods, to name a few. Those woodsy smells have always held a place in my heart and the other day it got me thinking back, way back, to when it all began and how I became frequently referred to as, “Chris is the girl that runs a lot...”
I was a REALLY active kid and felt like I just lived outside. My grandfather taught me to appreciate the outdoors at an early age and was a huge part of my life.
He was the father-figure for the early part of my life and I unfortunately only had him for 16 yrs.
My mom would have to yell and holler at my brother and I to get us to come inside. We built forts, played in the dirt, explored the woods as far as we could go, and would just get lost for hours at a time. I liked the idea of playing sports but we couldn’t really afford to, and my mom just didn’t have the time to take us to practices. I was always mad that I didn’t get to play much, but looking back, my single-parent mom was fucking Wonder Woman.
I have the best mom ever – and brother too. I think she was about 20 here! Wowzer. A baby with babies.
I did play one season of soccer in the 2nd grade, and attempted cheerleading in the 5th grade because all the other girls were doing it. Why I ever thought I should try cheerleading, I’ll never know. I quickly and happily gave that up.
Right before this picture was taken, I was at my grandmaw’s house taking pictures with balloons in my shirt (for boobies). Also, I had a black eye from where my brother accidentally kicked me on our trampoline! HAHA! I was called “Black-eyed Susan” that year! I’m just impressed now that kids knew what Black-eyed Susans were back then! Sure wouldn’t now! I’ll give you a cookie if you can pick me out!
I didn’t try any other organized sports again until high school. Actually, I joined JROTC my freshman year after being talked into it by one of my friends. After trying out, my friend hated it and quit, but I love it and stayed. My freshman year was the only year I went to this particular school, because my mom got divorced and we moved after that. The JROTC program at this school was LEGIT and they made us do lot of tough exercises and run. This was my first real taste of working out and running, but I hadn’t caught the running bug just yet. When I moved to the high school where I graduated, the JROTC program there was a lot more relaxed.
A friend talked me into trying out for the softball team my sophomore year – see the friend-talked-me-into-it pattern? I’d played ball around our yard with my brother, but never on a team. A majority, if not all, of the girls on the team grew up playing and all knew each other. I didn’t know any of the rules and just went with it. I picked it up nicely, as I usually do with new challenges. I found rides to practice and games until I got my own car.
I kept playing softball, but in my junior year (end of 1997) yet another friend talked me into joining the cross-country team. I honestly don’t think I would have went out for it if she hadn’t talked me into it. Again, my friend hated it but I LOOOOOOVED it. At first it was a great way to stay active while I wasn’t playing softball. I can remember huffing and puffing, and not being very good at the beginning. However, I picked it up really quickly and became pretty good. I don’t have the best memory in the world but I can remember a couple of meets where I sprinted so hard at the end that I couldn’t feel my legs! I remember one in particular where I sprinted, with dead legs, to the finish and was so thrilled by the floating feeling that I had. I had a big smile on my face when I finished! I was never able to reach my full cross-country potential because I didn’t run that much in the off-season and focused more on softball my senior year. We switched over to fast-pitch and I tried my hand at pitching for a while. I made all-conference in cross-country my senior year and was always curious how good I could have been if I’d started running sooner and trained throughout the year.
I ran my first 10K on January 10, 1998 and ran a 54:22 (8:44 pace). Gotta love Athlinks! Check out my profile!
I was 16 years old! Check out those Adidas shorts!
After I graduated, I went to community college where I can remember running occasionally on campus, but it was never a regular thing. I also ended up gaining the freshman 15. Folks in that part of NC just didn’t run for fun and I’d never really thought about it either. I was on the school’s volleyball team and played some intramural sports. I graduated there in 2001 and joined the Army. A few months before I went to basic training (I was in the delayed-entry program from June-September. My first day was 9/11/2001. Seriously.), I began to run to get in shape for the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). In basic training, they would break us up into run groups A-C, with A being the fastest group. I was too fast for the B group so I ended up in A where I was always the only girl, and would have to fight to stay with the guys. There wasn’t a single APFT where I didn’t max out my required run time. I had other girls coming up to me to ask for advice on how to get faster. During that time, I was just running and had no idea why/how I was able to run that fast. I did help one girl who was really struggling and on the verge of getting kicked out because of it. I made her run extra with me and paced her during her final test. I basically just yelled at her the whole two miles! HAHA! It worked though! The fastest two miles that I ever had for a APFT was a 14:30, 7:15 pace. That isn’t THAT fast, but I only needed like an 18:something to pass. Sheesh.
I didn’t run another race until 2005 when I was stationed in England. A few friends and I went to Scotland and ran the River Ness 10K. I let myself get out of shape in England and only ran a 54:11 – faster than my first but it could have been much better.
My first half marathon was the Victory Junction 13.1 in 2006 where I ran a 1:53. I got my race bib signed by “The King”, Richard Petty! (Abby, another blog with NASCAR in it! Haha!)
I need to bring that race hair back. That became my signature for a while…
That half really ramped things up for me. I had to attend a school in Arizona and was there for several months. I loved running in Arizona and did a couple races out there.
LOVE that race hair, those legs, and the giant Saguaros in the back!
My favorite race pic EVER
The first race I ever came in first overall female, was a memorial 8 mile run that took place while I was deployed in Afghanistan in 2008. There was one other girl that was as fast as I was and she lead the entire race. I played it smart and tailed her the whole way. She had no clue I was behind her, especially in the final stretch, because she had earbuds in. She didn’t realize I was about to pounce, and when I did, it was too late. I could see the finish line and just took off in a sprint. I remember how amazing that felt. I think she was really pissed off. HAHA! The next and only other win I ever had was a local 10K in 2010
My commander gave myself and the male winner an AWESOME aviator kit bag and knife, embroidered and engraved with the Special Forces logo, that I still have.
I ran my first (unofficial) 50K during that 2008 deployment. Myself and five other people planned and did our own Fatass 50K around the 8 mile perimeter of the camp. I hadn’t even ran a marathon at that point, and I remember high-fiving the guys when we hit that distance in the 50K!
Before the start of the Fatass 50K. We ran through the night and I worked the next day!
I think it was during this deployment (or maybe 2006) that I stumbled upon the Runner’s World website where I wanted a place online to log my training. They had a great, free training log back then, but I also found this awesome place called The Loop (which no longer exists, unfortunately). You could make a blog there, post it, and other runners on the site could read it. I didn’t post anything for a long time, but just logged my training. Little did I know that The Loopwould change my life, in many ways.
I had to throw in an Army pic That’s me in a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan
I ran a handful of races in 2009 and 2010, but really hit my peak year in 2011 when I had a goal of doing at least one race every month for the whole year. That year included my half marathon PR (VA Beach Shamrock – 1:42:08), 10 mile PR (Ft. Bragg Army 10 miler – 1:18:38 – where I was asked to be on the Ft. Bragg Army 10 miler team but had to turn it down because I was already out of the military…ugh!), 10K PR (Jingle Bell Job – 43:53 -where I almost won the women’s race and had an epic battle with the winner), my first marathon (Nashville Country Music), and my first official 50K (NFEC Georgia). I also completed my longest adventure race, 30 hours in Northern Georgia. That was an incredible year for me. I was on a high that wouldn’t end!
I kept things going in 2012 where I completed my first 40 mile run (Uwharrie), marathon PR (VA Beach Shamrock – 3:53:08-barely over a month after the 40 miler!), a 24 hour run (Hinson Lake) where I ran 38 miles, and my only 50 miler (Mountain Masochist) to date. I had an undiagnosed injury from the 50 miler which took away my momentum for a bit and I didn’t run a single race in 2013. We moved to Colorado at the end of 2013 and that’s when I developed exercised induced asthma, and found running to be really difficult.
Being “Chris is the girl that runs a lot...” has been my identity since my teens. Running is my thing – that thing that I am REALLY good at – and I’ve always been proud of it being a huge part of my identity. When I found it really hard to run out here, when it had never been hard before, I didn’t know how to handle it. I would run here and there and even managed to run a marathon back in NC in 2014, but running really trickled off after that. I got REALLY depressed. I could run, but I was just so pissed that I was struggling that I didn’t want to do it. I was hiking some but got SO out of shape, gaining about 25 pounds and weighing the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’d always told my mom, who would constantly give me crap about being so “skinny” that if I ever stopped running I would gain a ton of weight. I love to eat!
I tried everything to get my motivation back, including several gym memberships that just went to waste, but nothing worked. August of 2016, I found a gym that offered HIIT type classes and I fell in love! The class environment, the coach I had (who is now a good friend!), and the atmosphere was great! These classes got me moving again, but I wasn’t ready to run yet. It wasn’t until last year that I got some simple words of wisdom and encouragement from a great friend that somehow snapped me out of it! I will never be able to thank my dear friend enough for helping to pull me out of that misery. The people I have met because of running and The Loop (including W!), have been some of the best people I will ever have the privilege of knowing. The community, camaraderie, and friendship of runners is amazing.
It’s now 2018, about 20 years since it all began, and I am back with a force. I finally feel excited and proud again that people referred to me as “Chris is the girl that runs a lot...” The future has much more in store for that girl and I am excited to see what happens!
Thanks for reading!