EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of weekly 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 teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.
This past Monday, our training started at Jackson Park. It was our 8-mile run, and there were plenty of runners that forewarned me that this route was difficult. Hills were the name of the game!
We started out by the baseball fields at Jackson Park. That day, it stormed quite a bit and there was a downpour right before it was time to run. It wasn't very hot, but it was humid. I wasn't really sure what to expect. Our first water stop was at Dairy Queen on 34th Street. I have been taking advantage of every water stop available on the longer routes, I know I would not be able to make it through without them. Thank you to all the volunteers that make time to do the water stops for us!
After Dairy Queen, we continued on to River Road. I ran part of this route previously in a race, so at least I kind of knew what to expect in this part of the course. I was on my own on this run; I really don't have any running partners so I just tried to maintain my own pace. My goal was to run as slow as I needed to, but not to walk.
We got another water stop at the end of 55th Street. I took a few drinks of water and stretched out my legs a little bit. Then we started heading onto Rosemar Road. I did not like running on Rosemar, not in the least bit. It was a continuous hill, and long. I look up and it just felt like it was never going to end. There was a lot of traffic as well.
Halfway through the run, I'm thinking, "I'm only halfway through my run!" With the hills involved I was happy with my pace, because it was rough. I started reflecting on the past week and it gave me a little more confidence in my running goals. I had a personal best in one of my 5Ks and then I placed in my age categories in one of the races so it made me feel like I was making some sort of progress with what I was doing.
We ran back to Grand Central Avenue from 46th Street. It was rough for me getting back onto Grand Central. I was roughing it at this point, but I kept pushing forward. I turned up my music a little louder and kept going. Running has been a good way for me to relieve stress and just to block out everything else, even for that little bit of time I'm running. It has taken some time, but over time now I enjoy putting on my shoes and going for a run. I come back in a better mood and more focused! So even though this was a hard route and I knew I still had a little bit more to go, I felt proud of what I was doing.
However, I didn't realize the hardest part was yet to come. We came back to the Dairy Queen on 34th Street where they had our last water stop. I knew the rest would be difficult because it was the hill leading up to Jackson Park. I remember running the hill during the Vienna River Road race. It was difficult, and I didn't think it would be any easier adding more mileage to it! They offered us popsicles as well on that water stop, but I honestly wanted to just drink some water and get it done! I headed up toward the hill and kept going and kept going some more! The hardest part for me was when we got back on the trail. It was very difficult! At times, I wanted to stop and walk but I didn't because I knew I just had a little bit left. The whole time on the trail I'm thinking, "Hill training is starting next week!"
I finally saw the end of the trail. Out of all the runs, I was never so happy to see one end. It was the most challenging run I have had to date. However, at the end of a run like that, I felt very accomplished! It's a good feeling to have and I hope to have some more of them soon. Also, I feel like I'm setting a better example at home. I'm trying to eat healthier, because I don't want to put all this work into running for nothing. The healthier I eat, the better I feel on my runs. And now my daughter who is 4 has been wanting to "run" as well. There are plenty of kids races that go along with some of the 5Ks in the area, so any little ones who want to run some of these races, sign them up! They have a lot of fun and it's a good experience!
The next half training is back at the Parkersburg City Park for our 9-mile run on Monday, June 23. Hope to see you all there!