While my pace and distance logged may have changed since I first started considering myself a "runner" years ago, running has always been a constant for me, a way of pushing thru life’s curveballs.
Upon graduating from college in 2010, a bright-eyed, optimistic post-grad ready to take on my first apartment and my first "real" job, I was also fortunate enough to experience my first real heartache! Fortunate in the sense that, rather than wallowing in self-pity, somehow I decided this setback was the perfect opportunity to put the "1/2 Marathon Training Guide" I'd flipped past in SELF magazine to the test. I signed up for my first half-marathon (the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon) and used training as a distraction to keep me focused on moving upward and onward. As I increased my mileage I found myself starting to heal, and my newfound hobby made for a great icebreaker on first dates - especially the date where, earlier that day, I somehow slid straight off the treadmill and had severe burns going halfway up my leg. Like I said, GREAT ice breakers!
Soon I found myself itching to move back to my hometown of Baltimore, and when I somehow managed to land an interview for a position with an ad agency specially working on the Under Armour account, in a moment of sporadic excitement I found myself blurting out "I want this job so much, if I get it, I promise to run the Baltimore Marathon (at the time UA was the title sponsor)." Before I knew it, I was packing up and moving back home to Charm City, rediscovering the City one Saturday long run at a time.
I'll be very honest, somewhere along the way in training for that first marathon, I discovered a new love: group fitness. I like to think of running as my "gateway drug" that introduced me to a whole new endorphin-high. A coworker recommended I add a weekly BodyPump class as strength-training to build up my legs to help endure the 26.2 miles, quickly followed by a weekly yoga class every Monday night to stretch out from my long run, and a mid-week spin class to add some miles by cross-training. Once the marathon was over, feeling a little burnt out on running, I kept up with the classes and became what I like to consider a "fair weather runner," in the sense that I loved to run from Fells Point to Fort McHenry along the waterfront, but only on perfect 60 degree days.
That all changed just a few months later when my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and just a few weeks before she ultimately passed from the relentless disease. When I felt like my world was crashing down around me, yet again running was there as my rock. Those weeks we spent in the hospital in downtown Charleston I started every morning by running thru the Battery and along the water. The fresh air and space to process everything I was feeling gave me the strength I needed to spend the rest of the day by her side, and make the most of the limited time we had left together. Upon returning home to Baltimore I (thankfully) found Team in Training thru a friend of a friend, and was inspired to fundraise and train in her honor for the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, the one place my retired flight attendant Mom had always wanted to travel to, but never had the chance. Running alongside the pink sandy beaches and taking in the beautiful views not only gave me a piece of mind, but reignited that initial spark from years ago: when I was running, I just felt like myself.
I returned home, knowing I couldn't give up the comfort and solidarity Team in Training provided, yet at the same time I'd totally tapped out my fundraising resources, so couldn't commit to signing on as a participant that next season. Fortunately the opportunity presented itself to mentor the team training for the Baltimore Running Festival, and I was able to simultaneously train with the BRF group to run the Marine Corp Marathon - those long group training runs up at the NCR trail giving me a reason to get out of bed on the toughest of mornings, entertaining (or more likely, annoying...) the group by telling story after story to help pass the miles. I tackled one more race with Team in Training - the New Orleans Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon, this time as a run coach, before life got continuously crazier and running again became my private practice.
These days I can be found running along the Canton waterfront with my (almost) one-year old beagle/hound rescue, Darby, trying unsuccessfully to run the crazy out of her, mostly motivated by our post-run reward of coffee/cheese at a coffeeshop in Fells Point. As a small business owner by day and a barre instructor by early morning/night, I unfortunately don't get out there as often as I'd like, but every time I do, whether for 5 miles or even just a 5k, the same thought crosses my mind, "Why don't I do this more."
About the Author: Annie Truax
Annie is a freelance marketing/PR consultant to local health & wellness companies and teaches barre at several Baltimore studios. Alongside two close friends she founded BMOREtoned, a lifestyle blog, and considers herself a fair-weather runner.