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A Runner’s Diary: Aiming for a Half Marathon

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I never ran in my life. I’m now over 40 and I hardly ever worked out. When I was in high school, I would use every excuse under the sun to get out of gym. I never needed to work out because when I graduated, I weighed 98 pounds.

After having two children, the weight caught up with me. I was several pounds overweight and as I got older, I had a hard time losing the weight.

About a year ago, I was 155 pounds and I was feeling sluggish and run-down. I decided it was time to join a gym and get a trainer. I knew that if I had a personal trainer, I would have to go to the gym. (It was a good incentive to go.)

My first trainer, Dom, was 22 years old. I was almost twice his age. He worked me hard. After several months of training, I started to run on the treadmill. I ran my first mile. I was so excited. A year before, I was unable to run a block and now I was running on the treadmill one mile. Within six months, I had lost more than 25 pounds and was going strong.

I decided to take running to a new level and started to run outside. Boy was that hard! After a few blocks, I slowed down and found it difficult to do that mile.

This past summer, I switched trainers. Dom had another job and left our gym. Paul, the training manager, decided to take over. He and Dom had been friends and Paul had originally signed me up. His goal was to get me more athletic so that it would be easier to run. “Now it’s time to build muscle,” he said.

At the same time, my girlfriend, Marti, asked me if I would run with her. I was totally intimidated. I barely could run a mile and Marti was a marathon runner. She’s not going to want to run with me, I thought.

Our first run was difficult. We decided to run the boardwalk in Long Beach, NY. The boardwalk is 4.2 miles both ways. We ran a little, we walked a little, and we slowly made it to the end of the boardwalk and back. It took almost two hours. I was totally exhausted but I did it. From someone who never ran a day in my life to running four miles, it was a big accomplishment.

As Marti and I started to run once a week, we decided to set a goal and gear up for a half marathon. We saw an ad in Runner’s Magazine that there was a half marathon in Disney World.

“What do you think?” I asked Marti via Facebook DM.

“I love the idea,” she said and we both signed up.

Now it’s October, and we’ve started to train on a serious runners schedule that we printed from Runner’s Magazine.

In this series I’ll talk about the trials and tribulations of preparing for a half marathon. I’ll talk about routes, gear, and the overall experience. I look forward to sharing all of this with you and I hope to motivate you to start running soon too!

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About Hilary Topper

  • Hilary Topper

    Thanks Doug!

  • Doug Hunter

    Good luck, it’s an exhilarating feeling and an accomplishment you’ll be proud of the rest of your life. Reading your post makes me want to go out start training again(I could stand to lose the pounds as well, too much time on the computer). I look forward to future installments.

  • Hilary Topper

    Sounds great Deano! Thank you for your suggestions… I’ll check them out…

  • Deano

    If your interested in a slightly different (but fascinating) book on running and the distance running culture, check out Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. It has some interesting stuff on running techniques, shoes and distance running.

  • Hilary Topper

    I had knee problems too. I had meniscus surgery two years ago and it wasn’t until I started training that I built up the muscles… Thanks for your comment!

  • Great start! I am interested to keep reading – I have some knee problems but want to slowly try to get into it