Wednesday, June 6, 2012

National Running Day

I didn't want to be one of those people who went for a run today and then bragged about it to all my friends (who also went for a run today), all in the name of a silly "holiday." But then I realized that while I would have laced my up shoes & headed out anyway, I can take a moment and reflect on another aspect of National Running Day: What running has done for me.

Sure, I probably would've run today regardless if it was National Running Day (or National Donut Day, or National Take Your Daughter to Work Day, or National Drink a Margarita Day, or Chachi's 14th Birthday) but I wouldn't have normally thought about all the amazing opportunities running has given me.

I started running as a new hobby when I quit smoking a few years ago. I ran some 5ks and a half marathon as a smoker, and once I gave up the filthy habit, I knew I needed something new to distract me. I decided to see if I could better my half marathon time as a non-smoker.

In August 2007, as a smoker, I ran my first half marathon in 2:33. 

In April 2009, as a non-smoker of 3 months, I ran my second half marathon in 2:11.
In May 2009, just a month later and still a non-smoker, I ran my third half marathon in 1:58. 

After that, I no longer had a new hobby ... I had a new addiction. And it definitely did not include cigarettes.

A year after quitting smoking, I ran my first marathon in 4:24. 

A mere two weeks after my first marathon, I ran my second and became a Marathon Maniac.

The Maniacs introduced me to a great community of people who run for fun, companionship, and camaraderie. One of those people I met, albeit virtually, was the Punk Rock RunnerIRONMAN himself, Ron

After moving to San Francisco, Ron introduced me to RoadBunner, a Bay Area runner who actually lived within the City limits. RoadBunner invited me along to the Big Sur Marathon -- and pushed me to turn it into my third marathon -- where I hung out for a whole weekend with a group of incredible girls who also love to run. This was my first glimpse of what it was like to know people who also found joy in pushing their limits physically. 
That third marathon was where I ran my first sub-4 accidentally, gained a new level of confidence, and found some of the best friends anyone could ask for. 

Because of running, I've met solid friends who I know will be friends for life. I've run races I never dreamed of running. I've met running world big-shots. I've run in really cool places. I've met more virtual friends. I've imagined where I could go and I've shattered my own expectations.

Now, 13 half marathons, 7 marathons, and countless 5ks & 10ks later (and much more to come), I've never felt happier, healthier, fitter, and more loved than I have in my entire life. And it's allllll because of running. 

I really, truly, seriously, 100% honestly can say that if I never started running in place of smoking, my life, my friendships, my circles of trust, my confidants (and confidence!), and my lifestyle/interests would be profoundly different than where they are now.

So while going out for a run today was not a special event for me by any stretch, taking the time to reflect how this sport has transformed my life into something much better than it used to be is something I don't do enough. 

I hope to never take for granted what some running shoes and a few miles of open road have done for me. 


  1. Pretty awesome! So glad you quit smoking :)

  2. Running really is so awesome- I have met some of my best friends through running! :-)

  3. You are such an inspiration! Seriously an incredible story. I didn't run today and that makes me kind of sad. But I also didn't even know about NRD until this morning so ill probably get over it! :-)

  4. I love love this post!
    I love that you quit smoking even more..!
    both my parents were smokers when I was growing up heavy smokers..and they both quit cold turkey. This is a great story ! good for you!!!!

  5. Awesome and well done Alyssa! You inspire many others. You met Catra...? I'm jealous!

    1. I did meet Catra -- she lives in the Bay Area! Come out here for the San Francisco Marathon one of these years & I'll do my darnedest to get you two in touch for some trail runs!!

  6. What a great story! Its amazing that you were able to quite smoking and really turn your life around. Congrats!

  7. This is's so good to stop and take stock sometimes and be grateful, isn't it!!!!

  8. You little sap ;) For the life of me, I cannot picture you with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth. My vision of you = big smile, Newtons, bubbly and happy and runnnning. Your body must be so, so happy with your new addiction. This is a very cool story

  9. I am thankful that running has introduced you to me! My work days wouldn't be the same without you! <3 <3 <3!

  10. Aww, I still remember our Genki blind date :) I love this post and totally agree with you -- running is so much more than just going out for a run. <3

  11. Pretty impressive. Great post.

    How about Maniac 32 - Bob Dolphin? He "runs" in our neck of the woods up here! Quite the inspiration!

    Keep it up and stay healthy.

  12. What a great post. I got teary.

  13. this. look at you!

  14. Great post! And I definitely agree -- running can change your life.

  15. So late on commenting, but so worth the wait. I love your running story and how far you've come...and how a little push from RoadBunner is what brought us together! Can't wait to see you in a month!

    And smoking....gross.

  16. Even more amazing is you pulled out a 2:33 as a smoker. You rock!

  17. This is probably my favorite post ever! While I sit here sick as a dog in bed, reading posts, it makes me so excited to run in the next couple of days.. Running is seriously the best thing EVER. You are amazing rainbow eyes! Bahhhhhhhhhh I cant wait for SFM!!!

  18. You have a great story! And I'm with Roserunner, it's hard for me to see you ever having a cigarette in your mouth. Crazy that you've now run a marathon just an hour longer than your first half marathon. Extremely impressive.

  19. Super late response but I love this post!! :)

  20. Are you ever going to blog again?? I want to know how your SFM went! I looked for you at the Expo to introduce myself and say hi, but no sign!

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