I have not always been a runner. I honestly would rather play softball than any other sport. But in 2009, after several "home workouts", I decided to try something else to help lose weight after having my second child. I set out one day to run 1 mile. At the half mile mark I turned around and started walking. After a few minutes I ran again until I was home. I did that several days until one day at the half mile mark I made myself keep running. When I got home I checked my watch and was amazed at the difference in my time. So I set out every day after that to better my time. When 1 mile seemed easy, I went for 2 miles. Eventually, I built up to 4 and decided to sign up for a 5k. I really don't remember what it was, but it was enough to make me want to keep running.
I went to the finish line of the Mini-marathon that year to see my brother-in-law. I remember watching so many people of various ages, sizes, body shapes and skill level. I was in awe of these men and women. That's when I decided if these people can do this race, so can I. So I began training with my brother-in-law while he prepared for the Indy Monumental. He tried to talk me into doing that race but I was adamant that my first half marathon would be at home. For Christmas, he and my sister registered me for the Triple Crown and I loved it. In April of 2010 I completed my first half marathon. I have now run the Mini nine times and have run 6 other half marathons.
While my kids were young, it was hard to schedule training time. I spent many evenings running at Waggener's track while the kids rode their bikes. But often, my daughter would choose to run with me. At 8 years old, she ran two 5ks and a 10k. I looked into starting a cross country team at their school, but knew I didn't have the time (or organizational skills) to be a head coach. Fortunately, the next year, two other parents stepped up and started the first St. Matthews Elementary cross country team. I had no idea how this little team would introduce me to some amazing people and influence me to push myself as a runner.
Both of my kids joined the team and I was asked to be an assistant coach the second year. In August 2016, I noticed a cute little red-haired girl (Alexis) that was new to the team. She had latched on to my daughter (in 7th grade at that time) so I began talking to her parents. They had just moved to Louisville from Florida and were looking for ways to get involved in the school. This was my introduction to Niki and Brett Workman, who are now some of my very best friends.
After the xc season, I learned Niki was entering a 5k. She often ran with the kids in practice and decided to do a race for herself. In December I asked if she wanted to run a 5k on New Years Day with me. After that race I explained to her the Triple Crown of Running. She thought that sounded fun. So then I told her if she could run 10 miles, she could go 3 more. So she fell victim to peer pressure and signed up to run the Triple Crown and Mini Marathon. We did lots of training together or at least held each other accountable for training. She did amazing and I was so proud to put the medal around her neck at the finish line.
For the next several months we found lots of races to run. We had another xc mom, Stephanie Franz, join us for training runs. And by training runs I mean we spent time gossiping, complaining, solving the problems of the world while our feet were in motion. Then Niki got a "wild hair" and decided she wanted to run the full KDF Marathon. I agreed to train with her, but I had absolutely NO interest in ever running a full marathon. I trained to PR the Mini (which I did). A few weeks before the race, Stephanie decided she wanted to run the full marathon also.
After finishing the Mini, I drove out to Iroquois Park to see my girls as they left the park. Then I drove into the Highlands and walked opposite the runners until I found them. I remember thinking how miserable everyone looked. Again, I thought, if these people can do this, I can too. But I kept those thoughts to myself. Both of my girls became Marathoners that day!!
Since we had spent so much time training for such big races, we looked forward to finding small races that were new to us. That's when we learned about Run the 502. Who could resist such an enormous medal that was "free?" We were able to adjust our personal schedules (Niki and Brett are now the head coaches of the St. Matthews xc team and my son plays soccer while my daughter runs xc for Atherton HS) in order to run these races. The Santa Sprint and Polar Bear series were added to the Run the 502 races and we were determined to run them all. I was thrilled to see the return of the Downtown Doubler and decided to do the 30k this time. It would be my longest race ever so I spent the summer training. Niki often called this "Julie's Marathon" as she knew I would never go 26.2. She even picked up my daughter from church to surprise me at the finish line. On February 9, Niki and I completed all 11 races and earned the Run the 502 medal. It was so much fun putting all our little charms on it.
I enjoyed this series because many of the races are for charity. I don't mind spending the money when I know its going to a good cause. I am one of the coordinators of the Santa Sprint and really appreciated the support of all the runners and River City Races. I'm still an assistant coach at SME, even though my kids have both graduated. And I'm very proud of Alexis and another young runner, Jenna (and her mom) who both earned the Run the 502 medal. I have gotten to know many runners throughout the city and love seeing them before and after the races. It's always great to see Mr. Howard, Ms. Lynn and Ms. Melissa among many others. I love that I know so many people at these races so it's like meeting up with friends on race day. And I'm inspired by how many people will brave the elements, (heat, cold, rain) to challenge themselves.
Speaking of challenges...what few people, including Niki, Brett and Stephanie, didn't know was that in October 2018 I signed up to run the KDF Marathon. Once I completed the Downtown Doubler, I knew I could run the marathon. I was able to use the Run the 502 series as training until the Triple Crown. I kept my secret until packet pick-up-2 days before the race (there is a great video of me telling Niki on my facebook page). On April 27, I became a Marathoner...and I didn't hate it. But now I'm ready to get back into the smaller races so I'm ready to Run the 502 again!!