EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of columns by Kayla Dunn, a 25-year-old Belpre resident who is training to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16. Dunn is a 25-year-old Belpre resident who teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.
My running background:
I have been involved in athletics all my life. I have played many different sports, including volleyball and basketball where running wasn't the main focus. In fact, I ran track for one year and that was it, because I didn't like it. So my reasoning for picking running as a New Year's resolution is anyone's guess.
Although I am in involved in different leagues, it's not easy just to go out and play volleyball and basketball like I used to do. However, I can put on my running shoes, leave the house and go for a run. One day I decided to go for a run and see how far I could go and I went 2 miles without stopping. I decided to join the River City Runners Club and started running 5Ks in January; yes, I picked the coldest winter of all time to start running, however I did it!
This past Monday was my first half marathon training experience. I was very nervous the night before, especially since I didn't really know what to expect. I was excited to start the training and see how far I could push myself. I knew the first run was 5 miles, so I felt confident in knowing I could complete that. I made sure to get some decent sleep and ate a good dinner so I would be ready for the morning run. I got up around 6:15, ate a banana and drank some water. I have definitely learned to force myself to drink more water since I started running.
I arrived at the park about a half-hour before we were supposed to run. Driving into the park I saw a big group of people all in their running gear, stretching and getting loosened up. My nerves really started to kick in then! These people knew what they were doing. What am I doing here? I found a parking spot, took a deep breath and walked up to the group of people.
Travis Daugherty, a former high school mate, greeted me when I got to the group and started introducing me to other runners. I have asked him tips before about running and things I could do to make myself better, so I was glad that he was there for my first training. I saw a lot of familiar faces from running the previous races and started putting names to faces.
When it was about time to start the run, a voice came over the speaker, greeted us, encouraged us to do our best and explained how some of these trainings work and the routes that we would be running. I didn't even want to think about the longer distances! I just wanted to survive today with a smile on my face. We started to run and Travis was nice enough to run with me. We started on Washington Ave and worked our way toward Parkersburg High School.
"I'm on Top of the World" was the first song that came on through my iPod. I thought it was fitting.
Travis gave me a lot of pointers during the run. I listened to the pointers he gave. It made a huge difference. When we started to run on some inclines he made sure to tell me to keep my chest open, keep my wrists below my elbows, and don't be hunched over. He also shared some games to play if I was with a running buddy to help keep your focus and heart rate up during the run. There was a water stop about halfway through the run and you bet I took advantage of it. I got my drink of water and then proceeded on with my run. Travis was pushing my speed the whole time, whether he meant to or not. He kept checking to make sure I was good or if I needed to walk, but I kept trucking through. The best line of the day from Travis was, "Run when you can, walk if you need to, and crawl if you must."
We started heading back toward Parkersburg High, I must say I was happy to see that! That meant we were close to being done with the run. I could tell on Washington Avenue, I was starting to die down a little, but Travis yelled back at me and said, "Let's go" and it motivated me and pushed me forward. I got past the Washington Avenue hill and kept going and could see the park ahead. When we were almost done with the run, Travis told me our time and we had run a minute faster on the mile than I ever had. It truly helps me to have someone there to push me to keep going.
Running has become an outlet for me and has become something to look forward to do either in the morning or when I get off work. I can just put a pair of headphones in, go for a run, and come back feeling refreshed!
Our next training is at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 2 at the City Park. If you are thinking about doing the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon this year, I would highly recommend joining us for the next training. Hope to see you there!