Hello from a Newbie-ish Runner

Hello! I’m Jennifer and am starting this blog to record my progress as a runner and to connect to other runners. I live in the Northside of Pittsburgh, so you’ll mostly find me running on the river trail, Downtown, and the Strip. Before I start, I thought I’d share my story and my running goals. Thanks for stopping by, and happy running!

My Story
I’m a relatively new and slow runner, having been heavy and running-averse my entire life. I remember being the only kid in grade school who couldn’t run a mile for the presidential fitness test. As the years went on, every other time I tried to run I just couldn’t do it and gave up. In 2010, I lost more than 35 pounds (you can read more about that on my vegan cooking blog.) When I worked with a trainer to plan what types of fitness I should do to maintain that loss, he suggested trying activities I thought I couldn’t do or I thought I didn’t like. For me, that was running and yoga. 

Running was still not very doable for me when I started in May 2011 until I started practicing Chi Running; I continue to use this technique. I slowly progressed and ran my first 5K in August 2011 (Run Around the Square; time: 32:48; pace: 10:35; blog entry.) I continued running through the winter and worked on adding distance then flew to San Francisco to visit my friend and run the famous Bay to Breakers 12K with her (time: 1:27; pace: 11:45). Then, everything changed. I adopted a retired racing greyhound who needed a lot of help getting adjusted to his new life, and all my time for running became time spent with the dog. (More on that, which is also why I stopped my vegan cooking blog.) I ran very sporadically from May 2012 through March 2013. At the beginning of last year I decided to get back into it and wanted to target a half-marathon to celebrate my 40th birthday in September. 

I completed my first half-marathon, the Montour TrailHalf-Marathon, September 7, 2014, five days after my 40th birthday (time: 2:50; pace: 13:01). I made a lot of mistakes. I was so worried about finishing that I ended up following a girl who was running a minute/mile slower than I trained for. Then I got very sick at mile 11 with nausea (having made every mistake possible related to pre-race eating) and walked the remainder of the race, so I failed at my goal to run the entire race. I was a big baby about it and cried the whole day because I was so frustrated. So that very day, I registered for the Buffalo Creek Half-Marathon because I knew I could meet my goal. I ran it on October 19, 2013 and met my goal of running the whole race (time: 2:37; pace: 12:01). I loved the race and the gorgeous trail. 
Me on the Buffalo Creek Half-Marathon trail
 I did the 5-mile Pittsburgh Turkey Trot for fun but had been thinking I wanted to get faster as my next goal (time: 49:49; pace: 9:58).

Me after the 2013 Turkey Trot
My Goals
In 2014, I want to focus on speed instead of distance. To meet these goals, I plan to run three races: a 5K, a 10K, and the Buffalo Creek Half-Marathon again. I’m currently following Jenny Hadfield’s 5K Intermediate Training Plan, which calls for four runs a week, two strength training sessions, and a rest day. I also do yoga (yes, I took my trainer’s advice on that too!) daily or nearly daily for injury prevention and to keep me sane.