2,120.5 miles. What is the significance of this number?
First off, it's the approximate distance from Alexandria to Key West, Florida, a favorite vacation spot.
Second, it's the total number of race miles my husband, Al, and I will have logged in the 201 races we will complete by the end of this year, our eighth year running.
Yes, two hundred and one. Go ahead, do the math. It's an average of 25 races per year or close to one race every other weekend. And yes, if you average roughly $25 per race (yes, we pay to race) for two people for 201 races, we will have spent more than $10,000 (with most of the money going to charitable causes). And yes, it is so worth it.
As we are getting geared up to run our 200th race, which will be the Medtronics/Twin Cities in Motion 10-miler on Oct. 7, we are also getting geared up to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary, which is Oct. 8. How better to celebrate, right? Ten miles for 10 years!
But I have to confess, our first race was actually in September 2009, but since neither Al or I started running seriously until 2010, I kind of don't count 2009 as our start date, although that race is one I will never forget.
But let's back up just a bit. Why did we start running in the first place?
In November 2008, I decided to do something about the extra weight I had packed on and joined a weight-loss group. As many people know, I have never been too shy about my weight-loss journey as I started blogging about it in 2009 (formerly called Confessions of a Former Fat Girl, now called Newspaper Girl on the Run) detailing all my ups and downs, even divulging my beginning weight (200.2).
After I had lost some weight, between 40-50 pounds, I was out walking with my then-teenage son. He asked if I could run - in a tone I thought was rather condescending. It wasn't, but come on, he was a teenager. I replied yes in a confident tone and I naively thought I really could run. I found out very quickly, however, that I couldn't.
But I had something to prove, not only to my cocky, athletic son, but to myself. So, I started, huffing and puffing, one foot in front of another, one very slow block at a time, over the course of several months. Eventually, when I was almost up to running one full mile, my son was riding his bike alongside me. When he realized that I was running and almost to the one mile mark, my cocky, athletic, teenage son turned into the biggest cheerleader and confidence booster I not only needed at the moment, but welcomed as I pounded the pavement for the last few feet.
It was then I decided to sign us all up for a 5K, which is 3.1 miles. Crossing my very first finish line is something I will never forget. For someone who writes for a living, it is actually hard to describe. It was exhilarating. It was exhausting. I couldn't breathe. I was sweaty. But I was happy. Beyond happy. I couldn't stop smiling. I felt accomplished, on top of the world.
And that feeling has never subsided. Each and every time my feet run across that line, a feeling comes over me and there's nothing like it. It truly is unexplainable.
Yes, I've had good races and bad races, and there have been horrible races (one in particular I had to walk off because of foot issues and my asthma), but there have also been great races, races where we've done way better than expected and shattered our personal records. There have been hot, humid, windy races and there have been bitterly cold, frost-on-your-eyelashes races (we ran in our winter coats one time).
But through it all - more than 90 5Ks, 60 10Ks, 12 10-milers, nine half-marathons and a variety of other race distances - there has been confidence built, pounds lost/gained, tears shed, dozens of shoes bought and memories my husband and I have made together that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Running is not just some sport to us, it is our hobby, our way of life, and we can't wait until we hit the 300 mark.