Mon 14 Mar 2011
When I started the marathon training program for my first marathon, the biggest hurdle was wrapping my head around the distance. When I thought about 26.2 miles, I couldn’t comprehend running that far. It was farther than the twelve-mile drive from my hometown, Augusta, to Wichita (Kansas). If I turned around and ran back, I still wouldn’t cover the distance. That’s just crazy!
The training program for the Wichita Marathon (now called the Prairie Fire Marathon) was six months long with increased mileage each week and a long run every Saturday. When our weekly long run exceeded ten miles, I was grateful to be running with a group to help push me along. I discovered a new set of aches and pains and a new level of exhaustion. The time commitment was enormous. Can you imagine going out on a Saturday and spending three to four hours running? I actually questioned my sanity as the mileage got longer and longer.
My new friend, Arne, started training with me during the week. Arne had a management position in corporate accounting. He recently moved to Wichita from Chicago for the opportunity at Pizza Hut and was focused on moving forward in the company. He was a CPA, intelligent and fit. I enjoyed his company on the training runs. We were both accountants, so we had something in common. This was his first marathon as well so we were going into uncharted territory together.
We were crazy in those days. I remember we went on a 10 mile run in August when it was really hot and humid without carrying any water. We would drink out of the hoses in front yards of houses as we ran by. What were we thinking?
Going for long runs is a great way to get to know someone. As the mileage accumulated, Arne and I became more than friends. Face it, if you can look and smell like a drowned rat in front of someone and they still like you, it must be love.
We made it through the training…finally. I am proud to say we both finished our first marathon in Wichita, Kansas in October of 1983. I finished in 4:23:10. I was twenty-nine years old. When I crossed the finish line, my legs buckled and my stomach muscles tightened up so much I couldn’t stand straight. Despite my discomfort, my smile was huge. Goal accomplished after six months of grueling training. At that moment I realized that the marathon was more mental than physical. Our bodies can be trained to do much more than we can imagine, but if we don’t believe we can do it in the first place, it isn’t going to happen.
My relationship with Arne continued after the marathon was over. It was going so well that I asked Arne to marry me in December—he accepted. I’ve been told that I am not very patient… We set the date for the following May.
The week we were getting married, Arne got a promotion. He was offered the Controller position for the distribution company of Taco Bell located in Irvine, California. By that time I had been with Pizza Hut for almost five years. I was nervous about the move. Leaving Pizza Hut wasn’t hard–it was a great company but accounting work wasn’t fulfilling to me. Though I was distraught about leaving my close family and friends, I looked forward to my new adventure.
One of my most fond memories right before we moved was running with the Olympic Torch. Pizza Hut sponsored one woman and one man to run with the torch prior to the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles. I signed up for the drawing in the fitness center and won. When the torch passed through Kansas, I was one of the runners who carried it for about a half a mile. I was surprised at how heavy it was. Even though it was raining when I ran, people were standing out in the middle of nowhere to watch and asked for my autograph. It was a thrill and I got to keep the torch as a souvenir.
In July 1984, Arne and I arrived in California. I was unemployed. Even though I had been offered a similar position at Taco Bell to the one I had at Pizza Hut, I declined hoping I could find a position more interesting. I started my job search in earnest. I went to a small employment agency and the recruiter said, “Why don’t you try the personnel business for a week and see how you like it?” My heart skipped a beat. Yes, I liked the idea of becoming a recruiter and the chance to try something other than accounting.
I started the trial week and found the job interesting and challenging. I got an offer to stay. Okay…it was a huge salary cut but I knew I could make it up on commission. Something inside knew this was the right move for me.
When Arne found out I accepted $350 a week, he was livid. “What! Are you crazy? Why would you throw away your accounting career?” Arne shook his head slowly and I could hear him sigh as his eyes narrowed and his mouth tightened. “Unbelievable.” But my gut feeling proved to be right. I started making more money after two months than I ever did in accounting. Arne stopped complaining… The lesson here is to do something that you want to do and the money will come. The overachiever was alive and well.
I left the small agency after six months and joined a national recruiting firm that specialized in the accounting and finance area and started placing full-time professionals. I found my career niche.
Life was good. I enjoyed my new career. Of course running was still an important part of my life and I continued to run races focusing on the 10K to half-marathon distance. I maintained a weekly mileage level of 20 to 30 miles a week during this time. In an effort to improve my performance, I started researching vitamins and minerals and started taking supplements to help maintain my health and fitness level—a practice I continue today.
After three years with the recruiting firm, I took a bold step and went out on my own. It was the influence of my parents and the allure of being my own boss. I took the plunge in 1987 and moved into an executive suite. The economy was humming and I enjoyed success as an entrepreneur and loved being independent.
Meanwhile, Arne was intrigued with the potential of the personnel business and he started his own company, Hemingway Personnel, Inc., in 1989. It was primarily a temporary placement firm specializing in accounting and finance. So, if it wasn’t stressful enough that both of us were self-employed, it certainly became more traumatic when, in 1989, I discovered I was pregnant. How did that happen? I guess that’s a rhetorical question…
Thus began another turbulent period in my life.
Next–Pregnancy, Running and Working with a Spouse
I logged 51.5 miles this week. This included a 7 mile speedwork run and back to back long runs of 17.5 miles on Saturday and 8 miles on the hills on Sunday. My long runs were slower than normal. I am beginning to fatigue and must rest more. I’ll work on that.