2011-2014 My journey into competitive running

Let me tell you about my journey…

January 2011– I was 19 years old. Weighed about 155. Smoked. I attempted to workout 3x a week for 20 min. I was sick and tired of feeling like crap all the time, but I felt “out of control” and didn’t know how to fix the problems in front of me.

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September 2011: Over the summer/spring of 2011, I decided I needed to really commit to losing weight if I wanted to see results. I lost over 25 pounds, ran my first 5k, then I joined my college’s cross country team without EVER running on any team in my life.

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I could NEVER have predicted this. I had people/friends LAUGH in my face when I told them that I was joining the cross country team.At this point in my life, I had built up enough confidence to realize that I would not fail at this. I was going to be the best runner/athlete I could be. At the time, I set of goal of running 7:30 pace for 3.1 miles. 

PRs set in track & cross country:

October 2011- 22:20 5k     April 2012- 5:12 1500

Spring/summer 2012: I continued to run and want to set goals as a runner. Without ever running over 13 miles, I signed up for a 30k (18.65 miles) and finished with an overall pace of 8:10 per mile. I got my mom to run her first ever 5k (31:30), and I finally broke 22 in a 5k with a time of 20:59!!!

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Fall 2012: Went from the highest of highs, to a INJURY. I was knocked out of running for about 4 months due to plantar fac. I also started working full time while still in school full time. It was hard to stay focused on running/recovery during this time period because I thought I would never fully recover from my injury. I lost a LOT of fitness and gained almost all the weight I had previously lost BACK. It was a hard time for me.

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Spring 2013: From the ashes we rise again. I was able to train and run my first marathon injury free  finishing in a 4:09. I raced my first 5k in over a year in 21:20 (21 seconds off my PR). Things were looking up. I graduated college and got hired at my current job. Things in life were starting to slow down, and I was going to reap the benefits of my hard work in months to come.

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Summer/Spring 2013: This period was essentially a whirlwind of racing. Because I was injured/poor for so long, I was finally able to sign up and run ALL the races I wanted to!

Ending 2013 with these PRs:

5k- 19:56, 10k- 43:20, 1/2- 1:41, full- 3:43

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Afton Trail 25k

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Grandma’s half 1:41 and Jason 1:14

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University of Okoboji Marathon 3:47

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Torchlight 5k 20:55

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Rock n roll vegas marathon 3:43 & 3:03 for Jason

Spring 2014: I buckled down with speed work over the winter and did;t race for 4 months. I qualified for Boston 2x in 4 weeks with a 3:27 and a 3:31. I ran several sub 20 5ks. I ran a 1:35 and 1:33 half

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Wicked Marathon Kansas 3:27

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Brained run for the Lakes 3:31

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Lola’s 5k 19:54

SUMMER/FALL 2014: I ran my first Ultra, won my first marathon with a 3:26 PR, Ran a sub 19 5k and a 40:50 10k. I got injured in July 2014 and recovered in October 2014

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2015 has brought me a 3:19 marathon PR during the Goofy challenge at disney. I am currently training for the Boston Marathon 2015. I hope to set another PR there. If not, it is all apart of the journey.

Cheers to training

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Goofy Challenge

1:41 half. wake up 24 hours later and run a 3:19 full [a 7.5 min PR]. what. the. heck. How is that even possible? I would have never imaged that the human body is capable of such a thing. Not many people attempt to race a full marathon the day after running a decent effort half marathon.
10929564_10203456426592711_7680670817336825636_nJason ran this entire race with me which means a lot. I met Jason (my husband) in September 2012. At the time, he was training for The Chicago Marathon. 3 weeks after meeting him, I decided, hey why not invite myself to chicago with him?! So that’s what I did. LOL. I was seriously INSPIRED. I had never ran a marathon. I didn’t think I had it in me. I didn’t really know anyone who has ran a marathon. He ran a 2:46 that day. 2:46. LIKE IT WAS NOTHING. All of his friends/teammates finished under 3 hours. If they didn’t break 3 it was viewed as a “poor performance”. I thought these guys were NUTS. My 5k PR was slower than they just ran 26.2 miles. I felt completely inadeqate compared to them, but something deep inside me wanted to try it.

fast forward 7 months, I cross the finish line of my first marathon. 4:09. I was embarrassed. It was the worst race performance to date. I felt ashamed of myself. I gave up and cried during the race. I have never been more pessimistic during a race. I was determined to finish, yes. HOWEVER, I was WAY too hard on myself. I took it way too seriously. At the time, I was so concerned with what other people thought. I was concerned with how my marathon time would compare with other people. All that disappeared real quick when I realized I SUCKED at running marathons.

When you have nothing to lose, you have everything to give. Or so I thought. In the peak of the summer heat in July, I got a crazy idea. What if I ran a marathon this weekend? It was a Thursday morning. I signed up later that day. Jason and I drove down to Iowa. Before the start of the race I remember telling him, I might finish around 4.4-5 hours… Maybe I won’t even finish, who knows. All I knew was that that weekend seemed like a good weekend to run a marathon. It really was! I took it nice and easy. This is my first and ONLY marathon that I negative split. 3:47. I could not believe myself. This was when my running spark was truly ignited. I realized it was all about the attitude and persistance.

May 2013- 4:09 [WI]

July 2013- 3:47 [IA]

October 2013- 3:45 [MN]

November 2013- 3:43 [NV]

March 2014- 3:27 [KS]

April 2014- 3:31 [MN]

May 2014- 3:58 split in 50k [4:53] [IA]

July 2014- 3:26 [IA]

January 2015- 3:19 [FL]

I am addicted to improvement plain and simple. Back to the story, this marathon means a lot to me because Jason ran by my side the ENTIRE time. 2 years ago, I would have never imaged that 7:30 pace would be something I would run for 26.2 miles. It opens my eyes to what could be next?

Could? No. What WILL be next.

I will break 3:10.

I will break 3:00

It’s happening. And it will happen within the next few years. I want to prove to my former smoker self that it IS possible. I CAN be an elite athlete. I might not be there yet, but I will be damned if I give up.

2014 Caner & BRCA1 reflection

2014 has been a whirlwind for me. It started off pretty great. I was newly engaged, I qualified for Boston 2x within 4 weeks, and Jason (my now husband) and I took 2 roadtrips to races across the US. Life seemed pretty normal & the good times were rolling. Until my mom was diagnosed with Overian Caner- stage2.

My mom was 51 and completely healthy. Cancer (to my knowledge) did NOT run in the family. Every time a doctor asked that question growing up, I robotically said “Nope. No one has had cancer”. It was almost as if I grew up believing I was “safe” from cancer. You hear all these stories, but cancer was never something I worried or thought about. If I heard a cancer story, I would comfort myself by thinking “no one in your family has cancer- it won’t happen to you!”. It was quiet a shock to my system to hear my mom has cancer. It was the sort of news where your heart breaks and the rest of your life will never be the same again.

And our lived aren’t the same. I don’t think they ever will be. I watched my mom in the hospital after surgery unable to walk. I watched her hair fall out and helped her cut it short. I watched as my dad shaved her head. I watched as her body withered away from chemo. However, I also watched when she ran a 5k during chemo. I watched as she went back to work a few weeks after surgery saying “I’m fine- I want to go back”. I watched life continue to go by. When she wore her wig, there were so many times that I forgot that she had cancer. My perspective on life started changing. Why did this happen to my mom? Why is this happening to our family? It was an unbelievable feeling that broke your heart into a million pieces every time you thought about it. So I stopped thinking about it.

Fast forward to June 2014, 3 weeks before my wedding, Jason and I were at my mom’s house.. I really can’t remember the details of the conversation, but this was the bottom line:

My mom was BRCA1 positive. BRCA1 is a genetic mutation that suppresses a tumor fighting gene. BRCA1 caused my mothers cancer. There was a 50% possibility that she passed this gene on to me. If she did, my lifetime risk for breast/overian cancer would be close to 90%.

My reaction was not so great to this news. I broke into tears & practically RAN out of the house. I was flooded with emotions. I KNEW that day in my heart that I had inherited the gene. I could just feel it. I just KNEW.

Time doesn’t stop for anymore. I continued on with my life. I ran another marathon (3:26 PR) WHOOHOO! And I got married on July 26. Jason and I bought a house in early September. We also bought our first doggy (Abby). She is the best dog and greatest running companion.

As life slowed down after the wedding, I made my appointment with the genetic counselor to get tested for BRCA1. My appointment was scheduled for the middle of October. Going into this appointment, my knowledge of BRCA1 was little to none.

The genetic counselor educated me on BRCA1 and the preventive measures that would need to be taken if I was positive:

By 35-40 it was required to get an oophertomy (Overian and Fallopian tubes removed). I would need to started getting mammograms at age 25 but that a lot of women chose to get a masterecomy.

I actually had to ask her what a mastectomy was. Boobs removed. great. My translation of this news was:

You will need to get your boobs removed by 25 and get your reductive system removed at 35 AT THE LATEST.

The only thing I thought about for the next week was:

I HAVE TO GET MY BOOBS AND MY REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM REMOVED BY THE TIME IM 35. 

I started panic mode before I even heard the news. I was prepared when a few days later I received this voicemail

“Victoria…. unfortuneatly, you share the…” my heart broke. I was BRCA1 positive.

Then the thoughts started flooding in:

What if I get cancer before I have kids/have surgery?

Well better rush having kids so I can get these surgeries done so I won’t get cancer!

Wait- is it even moral to have children knowing that they would have a 50% chance of inheriting this?

Should I have my breast removed before I have children?

What if I couldn’t breast feed? wouldn’t that make me a bad mom?

Whirlwinds of thoughts. Sometimes at work, the thoughts would creep up, and I would fight to have to hold back the tears. I still don’t have it all figured out. I don’t know when I will.

2014 has been a year where I really “grew up”. I learned a lot about myself. I’m not a victim. No one should feel sorry for me. My life is not “ruined”. There is no reason I can’t continue to do the things I wanted to do.

My thoughts right now are leaning towards getting a PBM (boobs removed with reconstruction) sometime when I’m 25. I don’t think I will want to have kids before that time. I want to travel some more… Maybe Greece & New Zealand 🙂 I’m still really young, and as hard as it is not to view my boobs and Ovaries as ticking time bombs, I know I need to take a chill pill and enjoy my life. I will go through with all preventative actions as recommended by my doctor. That is all that I can do. No one gets out of this world alive.