This morning started out like most days. I woke up, went to the bathroom, woke up Kevin, we got dressed and headed out for a run. Every single morning that Kevin and I run together I realize how lucky I am to be marrying someone who likes to run too. It is a great way to spend time together and going through the ups and downs of running has strengthened our relationship. This is our routine now, but it wasn’t always like this and Kevin definitely did not always like to run. For many, many years I ran alone and I actually preferred it that way. When I first moved to Virginia and I was super stressed with my first year of teaching, running was my escape. It was my way to get away from all the work that I had to do and all the kids I was around constantly. I liked having “me time” where I could focus on running and forget everything else. Occasionally I daydreamed about one day having a boyfriend or husband that could join me on my runs, but I knew the chances of that were slim. I figured it would be a hobby I did alone.
I met Kevin in September 2009, while I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon. As we were getting to know each other he found out that I was a runner and was training for my third marathon. I remember him telling me that running a marathon is something that he would want to do someday, but he was not a runner at the time. Actually, he wasn’t very active at all except for the occasional football or softball game with friends. Later (once we were engaged and he had started running) he told me that at that time he didn’t really want to run a marathon and that he was just trying to make conversation and impress me 🙂
So how did he get from that point to where he is now: running regularly, finishing his first marathon in an amazing time and now training for another? Let’s start at the beginning…
Kevin was very active growing up. He played multiple sports throughout middle and high school. He stopped playing school sports his senior year, but still stayed active in other ways including coaching baseball. After high school he decided to enlist in the Air Force. He went off to basic training and started running and working out every day. He kept up with it after basic training during tech school, but then came back to Virginia as a reservist, started working at a doctor’s office and pretty much stopped exercising regularly. He ran during his yearly PT test for the Air Force (1.5 miles) but that was about it.
During the summer of 2009, before I met Kevin, he was living the typical 21 year old single life. He stayed out late, played poker every night, and drank a lot. He started dating our mutual friend Megan at the end of that summer, and I met him through her the day before his 22nd birthday on September 11th. I found out later that he somehow had run his 1.5 mile PT test the day after his birthday, totally hungover, in 13:23. Not bad for not really running ever and being hungover! I knew he had potential as a runner.
His short-lived time with Megan ended but we all still hung out in the same circles, so I got to know Kevin better during the next months. This is when he found out I was training for a marathon. I remember the night before the marathon he texted me good luck, and he texted me afterwards to say congrats. The day after the marathon our whole group went out to watch a football game and he bought me a beer to celebrate finishing the race. This is when he started asking me more about running and telling me that someday he wanted to run one. We went on our first real date a week later in early November (after checking with Megan first, haha) and then became “official” on November 11, 2009.
Somehow during this time I convinced him it would be a great idea to run a Turkey Trot 5K race on November 21st. He agreed and trained by running one time and going on the elliptical a few times. When the race day came I was so happy and excited that he was going to run with me.
We stayed together for the first two miles and I was impressed with how well he was doing. He started falling behind after the second mile marker and he told me to go ahead, so I did. I ended up finishing in 28:03, and he came behind me in 32:14. I was so impressed with him but I tried not to get too excited because I didn’t want to push him into running if he didn’t like it or want to do it.
That fall and winter I continued to run on my own. Kevin moved in with me in December and I got up in the mornings and went out to run, never asking him to come with me. I was trying to be careful and didn’t want to be pushy. I wanted running to be HIS choice. At this time, I was training for yet another marathon (Austin) and he occasionally rode his bike next to me on my long runs, which I LOVED, but he didn’t run with me.
I ran the marathon in early February, came home, and decided to take a little break from training so hard. My next marathon wasn’t until November so I took that time to run shorter races and not follow a real ‘plan’. This left my schedule wide open for short, easy runs that were much easier for Kevin to handle. Sometimes he would come with me on these short runs, but he didn’t enjoy it. However, I think he felt better knowing that I wasn’t ‘training’ for anything and he wasn’t holding me back.
He got very frustrated in those early runs. He hadn’t run since the 5K in November, and he got mad when he could only run a quarter mile before needing to walk. I was very supportive, and told him he needed to be patient with himself as he built up his stamina and endurance. Plus, it was winter and it was cold, and we didn’t always feel like running, so we didn’t! Instead we ate, drank, and enjoyed each other and our new love.
In March 2010 we decided we needed to make a change. We had both gained weight and were feeling unhealthy and unhappy with ourselves. We bought Insanity and started the 60 day program. It was INTENSE! It left us incredibly sore and dripping with sweat every day, but we followed the plan to a T. Kevin gained confidence in his ability and dropped weight quickly.
We ran a 5K Trail run in April and Kevin was amazed at how much better he felt running, just because he had lost some weight and gotten stronger through Insanity. He ran it in 28:07, more than 4 minutes faster than his first 5K, and this one was on trails!
Then, towards the end of the program we decided to go out for a run. Insanity was so intense that we couldn’t really run during it without killing ourselves. That day Kevin ran 5 miles straight without stopping! He hadn’t been able to do that since he was in basic training. Seeing how proud he was of himself that day was amazing. This is when everything started to change. We went to buy him some good running shoes and some running shirts. I was overjoyed!
After we finished Insanity, Kevin’s confidence was at an all time high. We ran another 5K and for the first time, Kevin beat me AND blew his previous time away! He finished in 24:24 and I came in behind him in 24:50. He was getting super fast and building up his endurance for running longer distances. When I got up in the morning to run, Kevin started getting up too. He slowly increased his mileage, and when I started training for the NYC marathon in July he came with me on almost all of my training runs. On my long runs, he would usually run half with me then grab his bike and finish the last of it. Around this time he decided he wanted to run a half marathon, so we picked the Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half on September 19th. Now that he was running with a purpose and goal in mind, he was extra focused. During our training he ran 9, then 10, then 11, 12, 13 and 14 miles. After running 14 he knew he was ready for the half and he felt very confident. His family decided to come to Philly for the race and Kevin was so happy.
The morning of the race was warm and we knew we were in for a hot run. He was nervous because he had never run a big race like this one before. We started super fast, and held the pace for the first 10 miles. During the last three he started to struggle a bit, but he never gave up. We pushed to the finish and crossed in 1:55:54, hand in hand. It was an amazing time for his first half marathon and I was so proud of him!
After this race Kevin kept running with me while I trained for New York. He loved the half marathon and he wanted to see if he could handle further distances. When my race weekend finally came that November, we went to NYC and he was able to experience his first marathon as a spectator. He was amazing and supportive, jumping in to run with me two separate times.
After that race I started looking for the next marathon I wanted to add to my race schedule. I really wanted to run the Country Music Marathon in Nashville in April, and I knew it would be a good one for Kevin, too. I asked him if he wanted to do it and he said yes, so I signed us up! Over the next few months, I gave Kevin some very important gifts to get our training started on the right foot, including a Garmin Forerunner watch and some super cool running clothes! (It was winter and it was COLD!)
We started our 16 week plan in January and Kevin got better and better with each week that passed. Oh, by the way, he had his annual PT test again in January and ran the 1.5 miles in 9:57! That is a HUGE improvement from the previous year’s time of 13:23! His life transformed into one consumed with Camelbaks, Gu, Clif Bars, and questions like “how do I get up?” after a tough long run.
He was getting up early to fit the miles in before work, and we started to accumulate a huge pile of running shoes.
During training we ran a few shorter races, including two 5K races and another half marathon. He had officially become much faster than me, but I didn’t mind. I love watching him improve and get stronger, physically and mentally. He brought his 5K PR down to 23:06, and he shaved more than ten minutes off his previous half marathon time, running the National Half Marathon in 1:45:33!
That half marathon made Kevin super confident for the marathon. We had put in the training over 16 long weeks, and he was ready! We went to Nashville for the Country Music Marathon at the end of April. Kevin ran an AMAZING race, which you can read about here. He finished in 4:10:05 and he gave it everything he had.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see him finish his first marathon. I struggled a lot that day, and I didn’t want to hold him back. When I finished later on and saw him waiting for me I cried immediately. I was so proud of him. Words could not describe it. That race was all about him- nothing else mattered.
Since Nashville, we have run a few other races, including a Warrior Dash and a 5K where Kevin lowered his PR to 22:30. We also signed up for another marathon, The Air Force Marathon, which will be this September. We already started training for it. Kevin is looking forward to putting another number on his map.
It has been amazing to watch Kevin grow as a runner, and it makes me happy to have a running buddy, even if he does leave me in the dust sometimes! That’s okay. I can deal with him being faster than me, because I know that we are going to grow old together being active and healthy, and sharing these amazing experiences. I wouldn’t have it any other way!