Testimony from Bonnie Harrington

I have never thought of myself as a runner, although I have tried. When I was in my early twenties, I went out to pound the pavement and get rid of some of those “just got married” pounds. Once around the neighborhood and I was laid up for a few weeks with shin splints. OK, I told myself running is not for you. I spent the next 30 some odd years choosing other forms of exercise which consisted mostly of hiking and aerobics-high until my knees told me to go low.

This year though, I discovered I was wrong about myself, apparently I am a runner! I began the year shuffling along the trail, running as far as I could (which wasn’t far) and then walking until I could run again. I decided that it would be prudent to get help from a personal trainer. I did really want to run and I did not want to get injured! Teresa Roberts became my mentor and guide on this journey. The best advise she gave me was to get some barefoot shoes. Although I was willing to try, I was pretty sure that I would get plantar fasciitis or develop knee problems as I had already had both previously. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My knees have never felt so good and my feet have muscles in them that I have never seen before.

In February, I entered my first 5K. I completed it, but had to walk more than I would like to have, so, back to training. Teresa taught me stretches to help prevent injuries and took me to some awesome areas to run. In April, I ran in the Matthew’s Forest Trail Run-about 8 miles. Again, I walked more than I would have liked, but gave myself grace as I figured I was fairly new to this game. In May, Teresa started talking about a Marathon in California that she wanted to do. Somehow she convinced me that this was a feat that I was capable of accomplishing. Now there is an example of great personal training!

So throughout the summer I trained and ran. I hurt, I sweated, I spent many hours on the New River Trail, and as time went on and I had more invested, I became fearful that I would injure myself and not be able to run. Again, I credit Teresa with keeping me sound. We started doing water therapy which allowed me do deep tissue type massage on my aching muscles as well as gently stretch them.

I followed a marathon training plan of Hal Higdon’s. Spent many grueling hours and several times had to work 10 hours and then run 10 miles as well as longer runs on the weekend. The longest run I did in training was 20 miles, so the marathon- that extra 6 miles- was going to be a whole new experience and I wasn’t sure how my body would react. Sunday morning, October 20th, 2013, I would find out.

My facebook post that morning said “Miles unrun cannot be run, mistakes made cannot be unmade”. I was a little scared, intimidated at the audacity of going from 5K to Marathon in a year. Not sure if I could make it but knowing that I would be forever sorry if I didn’t try. The gun sounded and I was running. The course was almost completely under a canopy of old growth Redwoods and was stunning. It was a double out and back so I played the mind game of telling myself that it was “only four 10K’s”. I knew I could run a 10 K. My only time goal was to complete it in less than 5 hours before they took down the finish line. I managed the first two 10K’s fairly easily, holding myself back so that I would have plenty left for the end.

The third 10K was tough, only knowing that I tend to cramp up if I walk during a long run kept me going. When I made the turn for the last 10K though, life got golden. I realized that I wasn’t going to boink, that this was a goal that was accomplishable, and, to add the cherry to the sundae, I managed to finish in four hours and fifty one minutes and crossed under the finish line. I had a silly grin on my face all the rest of the day. I put in a lot of sweat equity, but without Teresa’s guidance and support, I know that I would have never been able to achieve this goal. Yes I’ll keep working with her because next year, she’s talked me into doing the New River Challenge as a single.