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One year ago was my first race…

So it’s race time again, as in, Long Beach this weekend race time. I can’t believe I am already ready to get back on that starting line and give racing another shot. It’s funny because when I look back over the past year, I realize that the race I will be running on Sunday will be the same race I ran for my first half marathon exactly one year ago. It blows my mind that only a year ago I ran my first 1/2 marathon. I remember running the Long Beach course, and having so much fun and enjoying running and racing. It was like a grand re-entrance back into the world of racing. I hadn’t entered back into any races since my high school race days, over 4 years before Long Beach last year.

I remember training for Long beach last year, the first “training runs” blew my mind that I continued to run “that far” each weekend. I started out running only 2-5 miles on any given day, just for fun and then I decided to sign up for the Long Beach 1/2. I wasn’t running far before then. I was just running after work, at the gym, just for MYSELF. I upped my mileage weekend by weekend and slowly and surely I remember reaching ten miles. I couldn’t believe I ran that far! I had done it! I spent that entire Saturday that I had run the 10 miles in awe that I HAD RUN TEN MILES. It was so crazy to me. I had gotten so close to the race and I was getting so excited. I had just started my blog about a month ago and was excited to race and then write up my first race report. I loved writing and I love blogging and I loved running. I was so nervous. I really thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. I remember talking to people, seriously asking them if I could complete the task ahead of me.

My initial goal was to finish in under two hours. I got to the race expo and was doubtful that I could make it to the finish. I saw a lot of people there though and it made me think to myself, “Well if they can do it, so can I!” I remember how nervous I was before that race. I realized that night before the race, I had no race outfit picked out and really didn’t even have many options besides my cotton t-shirts to wear. I opted for a cotton shirt, a cotton sports bra and my black booty shorts. No surprise on the last one huh, those started early :) I woke up that morning and was so excited! I got ready to go and was driven down to the starting line. I was nervous  but running with a friend, and I knew that if we worked together we would make it to the finish. The miles began to pass by and I watched the time tick by on my watch and remember it going faster and faster. I remember running in the race and still wondering if I was ever going to make it to the finish line. I had never run that far before.  I was getting so nervous I wouldn’t make it in time for my goal. I remember starting to take off around mile 10 because I had a lot left in my tank and I wanted to be sure that I made it in under 2 hours.

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I remember approaching the finish. Since it is a rather large race, there were a ton of people there, cheering and yelling. It’s so exciting to go down the chute and see your time on the big clock. I finished under 2 hours and I knew I would have to race again. We all know my heart belongs to the half marathon, and that was the day that 13.1 won me over.

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That’s when I fell back in love with racing. The feeling and energy that was at the starting line. All the bodies, shivering and getting ready to embark on a crazy running journey together. The national anthem being sung, and the excitement that floods your heart and mind as the gun goes off. Then you take off, and you question yourself along the way, wondering if today is ‘your day’ or wondering if you will finish, but deep down, you know you can do this. You can doubt yourself, but your legs take over and your mind wills you along. “You’ve done this before, you can do this now.” You just keep pushing yourself along and finally, you’re tired, you’re worn out, you’re whole body hurts, but then, you see the finish line, and it’s over.  You did it. I love that feeling.

I’ve had my ups and downs with races.

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I ran amazing at the Kaiser 1/2, without much effort, I also met some great friends at this race, and made new running buddies.I won my age group a few times,  and I’ve had nothing but a lot of fun.

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I’ve dealt with lots of random things, from bloody socks, to bathroom issues, to hydration issues. Then I’ve had some horrible races that I hated. Surf City this year just wasn’t good for me, and I had an ‘off’ day.

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I know San Diego, my first marathon, wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, and sometimes I wish it came out differently, but at the same time, I realize that San Diego taught me a lot about myself as a runner and as a person. Now I can laugh about my ‘bad races’, and still celebrate the good ones. I have had some great training runs and trail runs too, including a great run in San Juan Capistrano with some friends as well.

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I’ve seen some great sunsets and sunrises and I’ve come a long way, but my last race was only a year ago! Since Long Beach last year, I’ve ran 3 5ks, 2 10ks, 1 25k, 4 half marathons and 1 full marathon. That blows my mind. I really, truly believe that anyone can run and anyone can race.

I can’t believe that this year, I already ran a marathon. I wasn’t planning on doing that until next year, but if you put your mind to anything, you can do it. Slow and steady, upping the mileage, anyone can do it. I can’t wait to have a return to my favorite course this weekend, the race that started it all only one year ago!

And, thank you all so much for the birthday wishes. You are all what makes me keep going when I think I can’t. Your support, insight, love and kindness reminds me why I love to run when I think I don’t anymore.

xoxo

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57 Comments

  • Reply Kelly

    I’m so excited for you. You’ll do great this weekend!

    October 6, 2009 at 8:30 am
  • Reply Amber

    You are such a HUGE inspiration to me. I’m an October baby too…HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Your journey has been both honest and witty and has encouraged me as well as so many others. Yay for LB! In a year from now, I hope to have achieved half of what you have. :o)

    Keep running and blogging and sharing it all with us!

    October 6, 2009 at 8:50 am
  • Reply Ashley

    Look how far you’ve come – that’s amazing!!! Good luck this weekend & have FUN! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! :)

    October 6, 2009 at 8:52 am
  • Reply Tara

    you’ve come a long way baby! You’ve had a great year and I am so excited that you decided to give 26.2 another shot :) He is the beast of all races, but teaches me so many new things each time I go the distance! Have a happy happy birthday my lil kooHO!!! xoxoxxo

    October 6, 2009 at 9:07 am
  • Reply Kristen

    Happy Birthday!
    I have the same feeling about racing, there is a feeling in the air that you don’t get on a training ride or run.
    Hope you have a great day and try not to drink too much…like I did :-/

    October 6, 2009 at 9:17 am
  • Reply Kirbey

    What a great post! So proud of you and how far you have come. You are an encouragment to all of us!

    October 6, 2009 at 9:29 am
  • Reply Lisa

    Wait a minute, you’ve only been racing for a year? And you’ve done all those races since then? Good God woman you are a rockstar and an inspiration. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I think you were speaking just to me lol. I’m racing, err I mean running, my first 10k in a few weeks and self doubt is sitting there in the back of my mind. I’m printing this post and keeping it for when I’m doubting my abilities. A half marathon will be happening for me sometime in 2010 and reading this post makes me super excited for it. Good luck this weekend, I know you will do well and can’t wait for your race report.

    October 6, 2009 at 9:30 am
  • Reply Punk Rock Runner

    The more half marathons I run the more I agree with you about this distance being the best. You still feel like you accomplished something AND you can still function the morning after. Still recovering from this injury but I am confident that I’ll be back under two hours before the end of the year. ANOTHER great post!

    October 6, 2009 at 9:31 am
  • Reply KatieA.

    Happy Birthday girly! Enjoy it!
    It is so awesome to look back one year at all the races we have accomplished. Some good, some bad, but like you said, they all teach you something about yourself. Love the cute racing top and you’re gonna rock it this weekend! :* Happy B-Day! (had to say it again!)

    October 6, 2009 at 9:39 am
  • Reply kristin

    Happy 1 year :)

    October 6, 2009 at 9:45 am
  • Reply Marlene

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANICA!

    I seriosuly can’t believe how far you have come in one short year. Amazing!!!

    October 6, 2009 at 9:51 am
  • Reply Mrs. S

    Good luck this weekend! I’m new to running, but your blog and your tales have been an inspiration to me too! Keep up the great work and rock their socks off in LB =D

    October 6, 2009 at 9:53 am
  • Reply Nobel4Lit

    I’ll be out there, too! Long Beach was my 2nd race ever… it will be my third time there and my 14th half marathon. =)

    October 6, 2009 at 9:54 am
  • Reply Charm City Kim

    You truly inspire me. I love how honest you are about the bad races because it gives me hope on my bad days that I’ll get through them and will have some good days.

    And happy belated birthday!

    October 6, 2009 at 9:59 am
  • Reply Nikki

    Happy 1 year AND Happy Birthday! I love this post. I’m struggling to return to running after a broken leg & this gives me encouragement that one day I’ll be able to do distances again. I think I’ll be just excited to hit 10 miles again this time as I was that very first time!

    October 6, 2009 at 10:00 am
  • Reply SteveGonzalez

    Happy B-day Miss….

    October 6, 2009 at 10:10 am
  • Reply J

    Happy Birthday! It has been quite a year! Here’s to an even better one next year!

    October 6, 2009 at 10:11 am
  • Reply Morgan

    Happy Birthday my dear! This post totally gave me goosebumps! It’s crazy to look back at all that you can accomplish in a mere years time huh? Congrats to all that you have done and here’s to all that you will do!

    4 more days!!!

    October 6, 2009 at 10:12 am
  • Reply Amber from Girl with the Red Hair

    1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    2. I can’t believe you’ve only been training/running races for A YEAR!!! Wow, I’m in awe of you!!

    October 6, 2009 at 10:40 am
  • Reply Bootchez

    And another happy birthday, and another Good Luck this weekend, and another Wow! so much in one year, and another holy sh*t I’m so impressed and inspired . . . You freakin’ ROCK!

    October 6, 2009 at 10:48 am
  • Reply Melanie

    Happy birthday! I always think it’s awesome when you can look back on your running history and see all the ups and downs. It’s fun to see how far running has brought you!

    October 6, 2009 at 11:03 am
  • Reply Shannon

    Happy Birthday! That was an awesome post – my 2nd attempt at my first half is in 2.5 weeks. Last year, I had 2 stress fractures and didn’t make it to race day – this year will be different!

    October 6, 2009 at 11:08 am
  • Reply Ms. V

    SO happy for you. You are such an inspriation to me.

    October 6, 2009 at 11:26 am
  • Reply Jamie

    Danica… you are freakin AWESOME! Keep it up! You motivate so many!
    Thanks for the kind words.. I have to “Break up” with my scale… it’s making me miserable ! I can feel great… not fat… not bloated and then weigh in and it will RUIN my day. That is NOT ok. I will keep tracking progress for BFL and just to try to keep myself on track but a million times less than before! such an unhealthy addiction/obsession! LOL NO MORE!

    October 6, 2009 at 11:36 am
  • Reply Jenny from Lucky in Love

    Happy Birthday friend! I hope your race this weekend is everything you want it to be and more!

    October 6, 2009 at 11:44 am
  • Reply x-country2

    You’re such a great ambassador for running! An inspiration for sure.

    October 6, 2009 at 12:14 pm
  • Reply Carolina Girl

    Thank you for this post girlfriend~ much needed right now and very inspiring!!! <3

    October 6, 2009 at 12:38 pm
  • Reply Carolina Girl

    and PS GOOD LUCK AT LONG BEACH! You’ll rock it!

    October 6, 2009 at 12:38 pm
  • Reply Cindy

    Great post! Had to comment because I also get wistful thinking about my first race (not too long ago!) That “first time” really is so special. Congrats on one year running and good luck in Long Beach! (I also just celebrated a year running and will be doing my first marathon in SF next weekend!)

    October 6, 2009 at 1:21 pm
  • Reply Zoë

    Beautiful post, my dear! And a very happy birthday to you…hope you have a fabulous day. You are an inspiration to so many runners, myself included. So keep it up! :)

    October 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm
  • Reply Niki

    You have come so far! So inspiring!!

    October 6, 2009 at 3:07 pm
  • Reply Amanda

    Wow, what a year you’ve had! I can’t believe that you, queen of cute running gear, ran in cotton:)

    October 6, 2009 at 3:30 pm
  • Reply chicrunner

    Thank you guys for all the sweet comments, seriously, it makes my day and you guys are why I keep running and writing and loving life! :)

    October 6, 2009 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Madison

    You’ve come a long way baby! Never forget that amazing feeling you get when you cross that finish line. Four more days!

    October 6, 2009 at 4:47 pm
  • Reply Alisa

    Wow, I had no idea that the long beach half in 2008 was your first race since HS! Look at you, you little speed racer.

    I’m so excited for you this weekend, I almost kinda wish I was going to be running too! (not the full of course haha)

    Can’t wait to hear all about next weekend.

    Do something fun for your birthday too! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    October 6, 2009 at 5:17 pm
  • Reply Nicole

    Your going to rock it! I’m so excited for Sunday! Its gonna be FABULOUS!!!!!

    Can’t wait to hear how you do!!!

    October 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm
  • Reply Pam

    Have fun running your race and have a great Birthday! I always love my birthday, the only day that you can truely claim as your own. :)

    October 6, 2009 at 6:38 pm
  • Reply Es

    Are you doing the Long Beach half or marathon?

    Good luck! And Happy belated Birthday!!!! Yay!!

    October 6, 2009 at 7:10 pm
  • Reply Adam

    This was a good post. Even though I’m only 28, even I’ll say that time flies. Oyy!

    October 6, 2009 at 7:13 pm
  • Reply Marci

    First off Happy belated birthday!! I hope you have a ***wonderful*** race this weekend! I’m rooting for you!

    October 6, 2009 at 7:20 pm
  • Reply The Laminator

    Almost go time Danica! Looking forward to your race! If you need last minute advice, you know who to text/e-mail/FB etc…

    Rock Long Beach!

    October 6, 2009 at 9:45 pm
  • Reply Kerrie

    Happy birthday and good luck this weekend! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

    October 6, 2009 at 10:18 pm
  • Reply Rachael

    You have def come far in a year. I hope to be half as productive and sucessful as you were this last year. Happy Birthday!
    Sorry if I creeped you out on twitter asking for a pic of your raceday shirt, but I’m sorta obsessed with running aparel … but you still need to post the new songs you downloaded, I need some new ones on my playlist :)

    October 7, 2009 at 12:03 am
  • Reply kristen

    I can’t remember if I said Happy Birthday – so I’m gonna say it again. Happy Birthdy girl!

    I can’t believe it’s only been a year. I feel like your a veteran racer.

    October 7, 2009 at 7:49 am
  • Reply Brooke

    Such a beautiful post… I’m completely inspired and can’t wait until I can run again and have that race day feeling. Good luck this weekend!

    October 7, 2009 at 8:14 am
  • Reply Maggie @ It Is Everlasting

    Girl you know I love you and this has just made me so much more a fan of yours (and our friendship). I feel like I am where you were a year ago (plus about 2 minutes per mile, haha) and I can’t wait to take off the start line and see where it takes me. You’ve helped me to become a runner and develop the confidence I need to make this race a great one. Thank you so much. I hope your birthday was amazing and you know just how special you are to just how many people. :)

    October 7, 2009 at 9:15 am
  • Reply Annette

    I hope you had a great birthday!!! Thank you for your help earlier this summer with Hotel recomendations! I hope you have a great race on Sunday, you are much faster than me so I probably will never even see you but I’m excited knowing we will both be out on the same course at the same time :) Good luck and have a great race!!!

    October 7, 2009 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply Billy Burger

    you did good young Skywalker…you did good. Now come circle and kick some butt in LB.

    See ya there!

    October 7, 2009 at 3:32 pm
  • Reply oz runner

    have a great race this weekend, and happy belated birthday…i can’t believe you’ve only been running a year…

    October 7, 2009 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply rioruns

    Your recollection of your LB race last year made me feel so excited! Good luck on Sunday! Even more importantly, have a great time!!!

    October 7, 2009 at 7:29 pm
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