My first real “run” was 1 mile around our neighborhood when I was 12, in preparation for middle-school cross country. I finished feeling discouraged by how hard such a tiny distance was. But I’ll never forget my mom’s response:
“You start with a mile. Then you run two, then three...”
A few years later in high school I raced 5k's for cross-country and 800m to 2 miles on the track. I probably trained 30 miles per week (but I didn’t log miles back then). And although I raced on the varsity team, I was not a stand-out athlete earning records or scholarships.
I went on to compete for my NCAA DIII college--a small liberal arts school in the middle-of-nowhere Minnesota--running longer distances with tougher competition. I wanted to compete in college, but it wasn’t the sole reason that I chose my school. I didn’t have goals to become a professional runner or be an All-American athlete. I raced the 3k steeplechase, 5k’s, 1500s and cross-country 6ks, logging 50-60 mile weeks. I raced at Regionals each year as one of our top 7 athletes, and I made All-Conference. But I never went to Nationals, or broke any records.
Each summer between race seasons, I started running half-marathons for a fun new challenge. Thirteen miles became my longest race distance.
After I graduated college in 2013, I ran my first marathon—26.2 miles—in 3:08. I didn’t plan to run another. One and done (famous last words).
A year later I moved to Colorado for grad school, and balanced PT school with elite level training. I squeezed in 70-80 miles per week and ran doubles for the first time. I raced for the first time as an Elite athlete. I chipped away at my PR's, rehabbing 3 stress fractures along the way and starting from scratch each time. With each marathon I cut off a few minutes, running 3:02, 2:55, then 2:50. Until in 2019, after four years of chasing my goal, I ran a 2:44 marathon, when I least expected it, earning my spot at the 2020 US Olympic Team Trials marathon. It was a dream come true and one that often felt like just that, a dream.
And it all started with a mile.
“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”