Not long ago, I stumbled across this little nugget of nostalgia, a picture of my husband-to-be and me after my first marathon in January of 1999. He ran the marathon relay.
I couldn’t believe 1) what I was wearing, 2) the placement of my race bib, and 3) that my face looked so round.
I remember training for that marathon, running 20 miles of the beach loop on Thursdays after work, eating Great Harvest Cheddar Garlic bread for lunch and snack and then eating a hot fudge sundae and drinking a Diet Coke after said long run. Gag. How ironic that 20 years later, many moves, two kids, and 20 years of married bliss, I meet my friends at that same location to run that same loop.
I think about how much has changed in my life over those twenty years, but specifically, how much has changed in running over twenty years. Oh my.
Before I get to the main point of this post, let me just mention something that HAS NOT changed in those twenty years. Me and running. Sure, I’ve learned a boatload since then, and I’ve come so far, gotten way faster and have run the Boston Marathon (I wouldn’t have believed you had you told me back then) and done an Ironman, which means I learned how to swim to actually go somewhere, not just prevent myself from dying (I wouldn’t have believed you had you told me back then). I’m still the same person, one who just goes for things, like signing up for a 50 mile race before working up to that distance. Hey, ever hear of a 50k first? Nope, didn’t think so. I signed up for that first marathon before running anything but one 5k. I remember thinking, “Why not?”, so I did it. And I’m so glad I did. I have that same element of “No Fear” as I did back in the day, something that I’m pretty dang proud of. I digress.
Because it was worth going back and reminiscing the good ole days, here’s my list of things that are different since I ran my first marathon in 1999.
- Look at that picture and whisper to yourself what my shirt is made of. It makes me shake my head and say “Bless your heart”. Poor little thing is wearing cotton. I shutter. I never wear cotton, at least 100% cotton as we all pretty much wore all cotton everything then. How did I not end up in the ER with severe blood loss from all the chafing? Were those heavy cotton socks serving as ankle weights? I have no idea how I did that. Nowadays, we have polyester, dry fit, breathable, light-weight fabrics that wick moisture. Pretty big step up, I’d say. My current running shoes probably weigh less than the shoe strings of the old days too.
- Garmin or some sort of GPS device that will conveniently measure your pace and distance. What did we do back before GPS? We rode the route in our car and used the odometer to find the distance. Now you are free to roam the city with a simple push of the button. Need a specific pace? No need to do your workout on the track, just push that little button. Easy peasy. Unsure of what mile you’re on in your race? Just look at that thing on your wrist. No worries if you miss a mile marker (or if it’s missing), no worries at all, it’s just right there waiting for you, all the information in the world.
- Races. They’re literally everywhere. Every distance, every location, all abilities, every weekend. There’s always something somewhere. Granted, it’s way easier to find races when you live in a temperate climate, for sure, but if you’re willing to travel, there’s always a race. And now there’s companies who’s sole goal is to provide you with a race on your vacation.
- Speaking of races, how about race registration? I remember signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon, the first one I didn’t do because I met this cute boy and my training pretty much ceased to exist for the remainder of the summer, hence the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I filled out this form from somewhere, not sure if I printed it out or what, but I wrote a check and sent it in, BAM, I’m in. Now there’s a lottery and a chance you can’t even participate. How about the New York City Marathon? FIFTY-FIVE THOUSAND RUNNERS. And thousands more want in. It blows my mind. And all you have to do is enter some information and with the click of a “Complete Registration” button, you’re in. That’s pretty much how I signed up for my Ironman. It really should come with a “Are you sure you want to do this?” button, followed by a “Are you REEAAALLLLY sure you want to do this?” button.
- The internet and all the information that comes with it. Don’t get me started on Google. I didn’t have a computer at home in 1999, and I had a barely functioning email at work that took me five minutes to get to. I used to communicate with my boyfriend via fax. FAX. I can’t even remember what sort of training plan I used for my first marathon. I probably didn’t even use one but at least knew enough to get long runs in and get up to 20 miles at one time. That’s probably why I hurt so bad and could barely walk after I finished my race, and I remember tripping over an ant hill. I don’t even think I ate anything during those long runs. Now you can find anything you want at the click of a mouse, and not the mouse who gets in your house. You can find any bit of running information, join virtual groups, virtual races, training groups, find a coach, find a training plan, anything you need, you can find with ease.
- On-the-road entertainment. I used to wear a WALKMAN with those foam headphones when I did some of my training runs. I would make myself a tape of songs I probably got off the radio, ones where the beginning is cut off as you ran to the tape recorder and the DJ cuts off at the end. Now there’s iPods, MP3 players, iPhones, Spotify, and iTunes where you can get pretty much any song or playlist at the push of a button. Books on “tape”, Podcasts, anything you want, you have access to it. What a far cry from trying to memorize “Dancing Nancies” so I’d have a song to sing during a marathon. Oy, bless my heart. When I moved to Katy, Texas, I got lost on my run. I had my phone, so pulled up the GPS to find my way back home. You can do almost everything nowadays with your PHONE, and I honestly don’t even know how we did anything back in the day.
What have you noticed as changed since you started running, assuming it was a long time ago?