HOW I GOT STARTED
I started running when I met my husband. It turns out that dating an American turned me from someone who looked down on anyone wearing workout clothes (especially those in running gear, zipping by with their red faces, panting pathetically) into someone who no longer thinks “sport” is a dirty word.
My first running group was the Hash House Harriers (HHH) in Abuja, Nigeria. I didn’t know anyone in Abuja when I moved down there for my internship, and there wasn’t much to do. As a result, lots of diplomats and expats joined the Hash and I made all of my friends there.
Every two weeks, expats and locals alike would gather in the parking lot of the Hilton Hotel and drive, convoy-style, to an undisclosed location. The trail was different every time. We ran through bushes, villages, hills, and streams. We’d drink beer during and after the run. There were all kinds of weird rituals and it was a lot of fun.
But my very first, actual run was in town. A couple of friends from the HHH were planning to run a loop in downtown Abuja and I decided to join them. I didn’t own running shoes, or even sneakers, so I ran on my summer Uggs – no problem. The fact that I managed to run 5 KM in 90-degree heat on boots, and that I even enjoyed parts of it, made me realize something. Maybe, I thought, I should run more often?
THE RACES I RAN
I ran lots of times in and around Abuja, but it didn’t occur to me to do a race until I moved to Uruguay two years later. I usually ran once or twice a week at that point, always between four and ten kilometers, with only a few longer runs in between.
Running was a growing sport in Uruguay and lots of people from the embassy ran, especially Foreign Service Officers and U.S. Marines. Together with my husband and with the support of some fun-loving friends, I erected a new chapter of the Hash House Harrier in Montevideo.
Races I ran in 2010-2012:
· 5K Coca Cola race – 28 minutes
· 10K Reebok Race – 52 minutes and 49 minutes
· 21K Salomon Race – 2:41 minutes (total killer!!)
Our next posting was in Pakistan, where there was only one option for running; a full (or half) circle around the diplomatic enclave, which was almost 5 miles, or 8k, long. Although I completed the loop on a regular basis, I wasn’t really into running that year.
It was always hot in Islamabad and I felt somewhat uncomfortable running in front of the Pakistani guardsmen that seemed to be peering at us from everywhere. I was also scared of the herds of wild pigs that regularly obstructed the road. The one race I ran in 2013:
· 10K diplomatic enclave run. I don’t remember my time, I only remember that the route exceeded 10k and that I was the third woman to finish (although I didn’t collect my medal because I thought the announcer had made a mistake).
In the Netherlands, where I lived from 2013-2016, I finally got running for real. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a chilly, flat country for a bit of jogging.
The reason I became more serious about running was that I wanted to get “back in shape” after my first pregnancy. Not that I had gained weight – I just wanted to prove a point to myself. I also like to joke that once you’ve given birth, any pain or effort pales by comparison. And since I wasn’t working in the year after I had the baby I had enough time to train for a marathon.
· 21K CPC Loop in The Hague – 2:10 minutes
· 42K Leiden Marathon – 4:19 minutes
· 10K Utrecht Singelloop – 51 minutes
· 5K Ladies Run Rotterdam – 25 minutes
· 15K Veluwe Zoomtrail
· 18K Sint Pieters Bear Trail
During my first 8 months in Yerevan I hardly ran besides two races, for which I didn’t train at all (I had another baby right before I arrived here).
· 10K Yerevan Half Marathon (don’t remember the time, course was 11,5K)
· 5K Yerevan Spring Run – 27 minutes
And, as of this week, I'm training again for a marathon!