It Takes a Village...

I have a special little treat for you all today.  I asked one of my friends, Denya, who I helped coach to her first half marathon, to write a guest post about her journey.  Denya and I discussed this idea a bit, and she really thought it was important, and I agree, to make sure everyone knows that *anyone*, with the right motivation, can do this.  All the people running races out there aren't 100 lbs and lightening fast.  They come from all walks of life and are all shapes and sizes and speeds.  So without further ado...

My name is Denya, and I am a 33 year old mother and military wife amongst many other titles that I won't bore you with.  I will however, introduce and gush over my family if you decide to read on. 
I wanted to start my running story by telling you why I started training but couldn't put my finger on it.  I was running the C25K program with my friend Helen on and off for a couple of months, and it was about the same time that my friend, Lesley, became a certified running coach.  I was proud of my friend, Lesley, and decided to read her blog and stumbled across pictures from her trip to Disney World where she raced the Princess Half Marathon. 
By the way, one of the boring titles that I didn't mention earlier was Disney World Addict.  My family loves to vacation at Disney World and I spend lots of time trip planning and boring friends with our house of mouse vacation details.  Looking at Lesley's Princess Half Marathon pictures had my mind racing before my feet ever did.  I want to visit Disney World and participate in the Princess Half Marathon and needed to become a runner to make that trip happen.  I decided to contact Lesley about her coaching.  A few emails between myself and Lesley and I was ready to train for my first 10K.  I was EXCITED! 
I spent hours on the computer doing motivational and mental training.  I read running blogs, researched races, running shoes, sports bras, GU.  You get the picture.  Then it was time.  I had to actually put on my running shoes, turn off the computer and run.  LOL!  I will keep it real and let you know that it was not love at first run.  My body didn't like my mind for coming up with this crazy idea.  I thought it was boring, and I thought Lesley was crazy.  I again don't know when or why, but I quickly fell in love with running.  Running hurt and felt good at the same time.  It was boring, but it gave me time to think and clear my mind.  The 10K training lasted a couple of weeks and quickly turned into half marathon training.  The new and improved plan added miles to my training schedule and the need for back up.  
There is a saying, "It takes a village to raise a child".  I think the same saying applies, "It takes a village to become a runner".  I needed the knowledge and experience that Lesley provided through her coaching.  She answered every one of my questions from chaffing to hydrating.  Emails were answered quickly and she kept in contact with me every week.  I loved the inspirational quotes she shared and the her willingness to work with my training schedule to make it doable with my family schedule.  Lesley's knowledge and experience is priceless. 
Another village member is my hubby, Rupert.  Hubby spent many extra hours with our wild and spunky children while I trained. I have a 3 year old daughter Rylan and 9 year old son Jaron.  Rupert took over homework duty with Jaron, dealt with Rylan's dramatic good byes when I left to train, spent hours chasing them around Run On so that I can find the right running shoes, iced my knees, kept me hydrated, and showed up to my races.  His love and support is ongoing and I couldn't of made it this far without him. 
The next village member is Helen.  Helen is my running partner and one of my best friends.  She rode her bike along my side during my toughest run to make sure I would not quit.  She cheered me on during training, ran with me when she could, and showed up to my first race with signs, gifts and supportive t-shirts that she made.  Helen was at the finish line at my first race and I hope to be at the finish line for her first race. 
Jen, Denya, and Helen
Mike, Jen, Denya, and Helen
I had so many family and friends who helped me along the way to the finish line.  I raced my first half marathon on May 1st 2011 and finished my second half marathon 6 days later.  I am in love with running!  I want to tell everyone that I talk to how many miles I ran that week, how sore my butt is, how many blisters I have, and how many toenails I have lost.  
I don't say that I trained to run a race.  I trained to become a runner.