Training for the Ulman Cancer Fund Half/Full Triathlon or Why I started running again

Seriously. 😉

One month ago, I started running. From what, you might ask? Ahhh, yes, you would be right to ask that question because, well, I don’t run. I used to run. I ran quite a bit when I was 22 years old and living in NYC. I had a girl friend who ran a lot and she would drag me along for all of her runs. I actually ran a 4k and two 10k’s because of her. And I must say, I didn’t do too badly.  😉 When I moved back to Baltimore in 1998, I stopped running. No real reason. Just because. I didn’t really have a reason to run. It was fun to run with Juliana and in Baltimore, there was no Juliana. I started mountain biking and road riding when I met my boyfriend and got into the biking thing and actually entered into a duathlon. It was pretty cool. (I did the same one a few years later with my sister.) But I never really seriously ran again until 2003, when I broke up with said  boyfriend (for the second time – there was a third time too). Once he was gone, I got my dumb ass back into the gym. And I started running.  I tell people I started running so I  could run away from my problems. And I did. And I ran right into a new pair of jeans too. (That wasn’t really the running…although it definitely helped. Really it had to with the fact that I was no longer eating pizza from Dominos every freakin’ night.) I met my husband the following year, and he was a big runner so of course, we started running together. In fact, our second date was a trail run. 😉 Then our backs started bothering us and in 2006-07, we both had to stop running. Hell, he could barely walk anymore, and I was having a really difficult time dancing. Then, in 2010, we discovered the barbell. And, well, you can read about my back issues here and how strength training got me back on track.

But I was done with running. All done running. ALL DONE! And the more I got into strength training, the more running just did not make sense at all to me. Why would anyone want to beat themselves up with running when they could get really strong with a barbell? Running to lose weight? Puhlease. But to each his own. A few of the women who train with me love to run.  They do races throughout the year.  And they also love how much better they feel running as a result of their strength training.  When people ask me about my feelings towards running, I tell them that while I feel running can wreak havoc on your joints and there are better ways to get stronger and lose weight, I would never tell anyone to not do something that truly made them happy.  If what you are doing fits in with your lifestyle and is helping you to reach YOUR goals, wonderful. Keep doing it. 😉 As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, if you are not happy and running is hurting you, not helping you, perhaps it is time to try something new. All of my runners who train with me feel 20, 30, 40, 50 x stronger now than they did before and they are running better, feeling better. Funny how that works……

So I was done with running. Running free. And then in 2011, my sister has to go and get stage 3 colon cancer (Thanks Charlotte), has surgery, goes through 8 months of gut wrenching chemo, fucking beats the crap out of her cancer (Take that cancer!), volunteers for the Ulman Cancer Fund Triathlon this past October and then calls my butt up to tell me she that she is doing the triathlon next year and she wants me to do it with her. And the first thing that crosses my mind is, oh shit….I have to run.  Of course, the next thing that crosses my mind is hell yeah, I’m doing it! My sister went through fucking hell for 10 months. So I think that I can put my body through a little hell for five months. Anything for Charlotte.

It really does.

And it was a very, very, very long 10 months, the longest 10 months of our family’s life. We cried A LOT, but we also laughed a lot too. You have to laugh when you are facing the unknown.

It is the only way to get through all the crap that comes along with having cancer.

Planks...w/ her daughter.



Today, she is cancer free, looking great and getting back into her strength training. She, too, has also embarked on her running program in preparation for the race.


So back to agreeing to do the race. Now, I don’t swim. I haven’t run in almost 7 years. And I have not been on my road bike for about five years. But of course I said yes because, if Charlotte can handle almost 8 months of chemotherapy, feeling like crap every other week for 8 months, I think I can run 6.5 miles. Seriously.

Off and running!

We officially registered in March and Charlotte began training with her running club in the beginning of April. I started my running program the same time. A new friend of mine (Gotta love Facebook – we found each other via Tony Gentilcore’s blog) sent me the “Couch to 5K” program which gave me a good place to start. And while of course, I am far, far from a couch potato, I am have not run in almost 7 years. So I was starting over. And let me tell you, that first day was tough. ;(




Monday, April 1: Run 1:00. Walk 2:00. For 15 minutes. It was torture. My shins were killing me. I was beet red. I looked a mess. 15 minutes. Ugh. What was going to happen to me??? (It was just enough for me. I thought to myself, “There is no way I can run longer than a minute.” And of course the next day, I ran for 2 minutes. The body adapts.)

Wednesday, April 3: Run 2:00. Walk 2:00. For 18 minutes. (I actually went for 20 minutes, tacking on an extra 2:00. Worked out fine. Felt great.) What a difference from Monday to Wednesday.

By Friday, I was in the zone. I proceeded to run for for 3:00 minutes the next time, then 4:00 minutes then 5:00 minutes. By the time I got to 5:00, I had a feeling that my next run after that would be continuous, a full out run. Before that day, I decided to do a few short runs. I started running home from the gym (1.2 miles one way) on Tuesday and Thursday evenings after my last class. I also ran to the gym Wednesday and Friday mornings for my early morning classes. The run took me about 11:30 – 11:40 each time. This was great! Short runs, good time, same pace each time. By the 21st of April, I was ready for my longer run. I ran for 25 minutes straight on Sunday, April 21 and then again on Friday, April 26.

Last week, I ran home Tuesday evening and to the gym Wednesday morning and then again home Thursday. Took off from running Friday as I had to drive to work since I was meeting a friend right after my class at 12. Today, I ran about 2.4 miles in under 22:00. I miscalculated my route so I ran less than I wanted to run, but that’s okay. I am running and that’s what’s important.

Best part? Last Tuesday, Charlotte ran 2.5 miles in about 27 minutes. Not too shabby for a woman who was never a runner and who, at this time last year, could not climb a flight of stairs without getting winded. 😉 Take that cancer!

At the rate we are going, the two of us will be more than ready for this race in October. Because the Giza sisters always get the job done.

To be continued……

After the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Walk this past September

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