You Never Forget Your First Time

There is literally nothing better than that feeling of you crossing the finish line for the first time.  Let’s all take a minute and savor that first finish line.

Ahhhh yes.

Mine was the Great Race 5K in 2005.


Not bad, LNR, not bad.

Recently two of my favorite people had their first finish line experiences.  They are experiences so impressive that I needed to share them.  Tom and Britt have been in my life for over a decade and friends of MB’s for much longer.  They are like family and when they started running it made my heart soar.  Below is their amazing story about getting to and crossing their first finish lines, and what’s next for them {aside from taking over the world with their awesome}.

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They say that a couple that runs together stays together. And by they I mean me. Tell me about how you each came to running and what that journey has been like.

Britt:  I always told myself I couldn’t run. I had exercise-induced asthma as a kid, so I was always afraid of exerting myself. In high school, I had to take summer gym to make room for all of my music electives. I remember slogging around the track in the sweltering heat of August, the high school football coaches screaming at me and my fellow band geeks for taking walk breaks. Our double-digit mile times were a disgrace.

Fast-forward to 2014: Tom had just been positively peer-pressured into running the Pittsburgh half marathon. Everyone kept telling me, “You could totally do this.” To me, they might as well have been saying, you could totally be a millionaire by age 30, or you could totally quit your job and live in a cabin in Iceland! Running felt like a club I wasn’t cool enough to join.

But then I remember talking to [LNRB] at the finish line, when you mentioned stopping for walk/water breaks. It sounds naive, but I had a revelation: you’re allowed to WALK?! {Uh, yes}  I realized I was guilty of viewing running as Facebook photos of impressive finish times, walls of medals, Things I Could Never Have. I learned that day that it’s a process, one where I can be forgiving of my body and proud of what it can do, without comparing myself to others.

Man I love run walking — it literally changed my life.

Why and how did you pick your first race?

Britt:  I was so inspired after the Pittsburgh marathon, and with my new views on running, I HAD to train for my first race. I also saw running as something Tom and I could do together to stay healthy. So, I laced up my shoes with my sights on the Steelers 5k. I chose the race because I’d have all summer to train– and, the finish line is inside Heinz Field! This girl LOVES her Steelers!!

Tom:  As a chief resident I had some more time on my hands and thanks to the urging of my co-chiefs, Andrea and Mina, I decided to sign up for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I had never run a race before in my life, so I was a little apprehensive at first about jumping right into the half marathon, but I figured why not and decided to go for it!

Exactly!  Just going for it usually ends up with my running races like Big Sur — so be warned. 

What is the thing that surprised you most about training for your first race?

Britt:  How supportive the running community is. They really DO believe, “you can totally do this.” When I run on my favorite trail in the North Shore, other runners are always whizzing by with a “good job!” or a “keep going!” I couldn’t believe how encouraging they are, even outside of the context of a race.

Tom:  That I actually enjoyed it! Going into the race, I kinda thought that I would feel good about having run the race afterwards, but that the training would be a long slog. Don’t get me wrong, the long runs were definitely painful at times, but I found that my routine short runs really became a time for me to work out my stress from the day.

Other runners and loving running are my two fav things about running, true story!!

What did you find most challenging about training for your first race?

Britt:  Forgiving myself for the days where I just wasn’t having it. On those days, I just tried to keep moving, even if I was mostly walking and texting (oops).

Tom:  Definitely finishing the last mile (or couple of miles) of each long run. I also found it challenging at times to mentally regroup after going on a long run where I fell short of the distance I was hoping to achieve. My first outdoor long run was in February, and I decided it would be a great idea to run on the trails at Schenley Park. While I normally really like Schenley Park, I chose a trail that was almost entirely uphill and a muddy, ice-covered mess. It was awful and I think I ran all of two miles that day and gave up. But once the next weekend arrived, I regrouped, chose a different trail, and had a GREAT five mile run.

OMG Tom — we have literally all totally been there.  Some of us literally. 🙂

What training plan did you use for your first race?

Britt:  I downloaded Couch to 5k, but I didn’t follow it to the letter. When I stopped telling myself that I couldn’t do it, I learned that I could already run one mile without stopping. As the race approached, I skipped ahead to the later weeks within the app to make sure I was on track.

Tom:  Priority number one for me was to avoid getting injured, so since I was a beginner I erred on the side of being more conservative in my training approach. I looked at a lot of different training regimens I found online, but I ultimately decided to go with a hybrid plan that I thought would work best for me. I ran three miles, twice a week, usually on the treadmill. As it became closer to race time, I upped this to four miles, twice a week. Then each weekend I got in a long run up until two weekends before the half marathon. The longest run I finished was 11 miles two weeks before the half marathon.

I love Couch to 5K so much.  I wish the Federal Government handed it out with social security cards.  

If you could run any race what is it? {hopefully it’s a Disney with with moi!!}

Britt:  Yes, let’s go with Disney! I’ve only been to Disney World once.

Tom:  Umm…. any race with Lauren Bailey! (When are we headed to Disney??)


Do you have any inspirational quotes/people/twitter accounts that get you up and out the door for your runs?

Britt:  Your blog! And I’m not just saying that. I love your honesty and how you make running attainable. I also recently stumbled upon this quote on Twitter: “You don’t have to exercise, you get to exercise. Movement is a privilege.”

Tom:  I just think about all my friends who run, especially you, my former co-chiefs (Mina Owlia, Andrea Elliott, and Eric) and now Brittany! I also think about how much I enjoyed running the half and our training run in Central Park – those positive moments really help me to get going.

Aww, y’all.  Your check is in the mail.  

What’s your fav piece of running gear right now? What’s the thing you’re coveting?

Britt:  I have to admit, I LOVE those little cheers on the Nike running app. I’m coveting these capris from Athleta.  I much prefer running in capris versus long pants (built-in air conditioning FTW!) I think I may have to take your advice, and treat myself for finishing my first 5k!

Tom:  Honestly, I can’t wait to get some new running gear! While I’m used to my sneakers, they’re wearing out and I have all of one shirt that is made of a breathable material. I did just get a pretty nice Under Armour Pitt shirt that I’m looking to busting out for some nice runs come this fall, though.


You are both WAY accomplished so it’s no real surprise to anyone in the universe that you both are crushing your goals — what’s your next running goal?

Britt:  I’d like to start by running my fastest mile ever, then work towards sustaining a faster pace over a 5k distance. Right now I’m proud of my slow and steady 12-minute mile; do you have any advice for me?

Tom:  I managed to run the Pittsburgh half last year in 2:02, so I would definitely like to get my time below 2:00 next go around. Otherwise, I just hope to keep running and stay healthy!


I’m literally so inspired right now, this was the greatest thing to publish the first day of marathon training, for real.

Who are your favorite first timers from 2014?

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