By Nicole Cesare
Hello Philadelphia Runners!
My name is Nicole, and I've been running around the City of Brotherly Love for over ten years. I've completed the Broad Street Run five times, as well as the Philly Half, a few Philly 10ks, and lots of 5ks. I'm also a plus size runner who can reliably be found at the back of the pack. For the next ten weeks, I'll be sharing updates as I train for this year's Broad Street Run. I'm excited to get out there, and to show people that runners come in all shapes and sizes.
This week, I thought I'd talk about how I got started running. In upcoming posts, I'll share my training plan, reminisce about my first Broad Street Run, and much more.
I was never a runner as a kid or an adolescent. It wasn't until I was done with college that I first decided to give running a go. Based on a few torturous gym class experiences, I knew that running was all misery and sucking wind. But, I thought, if I could run a mile without stopping, I'd have accomplished something concrete that I could feel good about. Yes, a mile. I set my sights high.
And...I did it! It took a while--I had no idea what I was capable of or how to pace myself. At the time, I had never heard of "Couch to 5k" or other resources for people getting started. I just showed up at a track near my house and jogged a bit then walked a bit, repeating the process and slowly extending the jogging portions until I could do a mile without walking. I still mostly hated everything about it, especially when there were other people at the track lapping me all the time, but I felt good about setting a goal and reaching it.
Over the next few years, I kept it up, but without much enthusiasm. And then I moved to Philly. I can't tell the story of what it means to me to be a runner without talking about this city. The first time I ran these streets was the first time I felt like, just maybe, I might BE a runner. And I much preferred the smug feeling I got running past the lines outside of Pat's and Geno's to the feeling of being passed by the same runners over and over while running in a circle. I still got passed, a lot, but at least in the city once someone passed me I usually didn't see them again.
My first year in Philly, I signed up for a Turkey Trot with a bunch of family members. It was 5 miles long, which was still a reach for me. But I worked up to it, and when Thanksgiving came I was ready. I did the whole thing without stopping, and it was the best feeling. At the finish line, I bumped into one of my extended family members, a graying gentleman probably about 80 years old.
"You did it!" he said. "How long did it take?" I told him my time--I can't remember now exactly what it was, but it was well over an hour.
He frowned at me: "That can't be right."
Yup, I got owned by a grandpa. But I didn't care. As time went by, I learned to embrace my pace and forget the [geriatric] haters. In the years since that first 5-miler, I've had highs and lows, PRs and injuries. But I've never stopped running, and I hope you'll join me over the next ten weeks!
We're excited to have Nicole guest blogging for us this year! If you're training for the Broad Street Run make sure to check out our Broad Street Run: 10 Weeks to 10 Miles posts full of training tips and stop by our shops for a free shoe fitting to pick up a new pair of sneakers for the miles ahead!