Never Say Never

by Jennifer Turner

jturner_smRunning a marathon was something I never thought I would want to do, much less actually accomplish. I was raised as a dancer, not a runner, and figured I’d never love running enough to train for 26.2 miles of continuous pavement pounding. I’ve since learned: never say never.

I began running during my freshman year of college in an attempt to ward off the infamous “Freshman 15.” I can still remember my first attempt to “go on a run.” Despite being in good shape from years of dancing, I was out for a maximum of 15 minutes and came back to the dorm feeling rather discouraged, especially when a floor mate snipped, “you’re back already!?!” For the next two and a half years, I stuck to the machines at the gym, supplemented with a few laps of running around the track for a change in scenery.

Then I went to Greece for a semester abroad and realized running was a much more convenient and portable form of exercise than gym workouts – no special equipment required! Plus, it was a great way to explore new locations – a sightseeing tour and a workout all in one! By the time I left Greece, I had discovered the “runner’s high” and fallen in love with the sport. While running remained a challenge, it provided me an escape from stress and a chance to reflect on my thoughts in peace. Alternatively, it also gave me the chance to connect with other running classmates and develop friendships during group runs. My endurance was still limited to a few miles at a time, but I was motivated to give running another try.

I continued running throughout college and grad school and completed a few 5K and 10K races. Upon finding a position as a professional librarian, I decided it was time for a new challenge: marathon running. Although my job as an academic librarian is demanding, I am fortunate to work in an environment that allows me the flexibility to train for such a serious event. I was able to work with my colleagues to develop a schedule allowing me to put in the mileage I needed to run each week, and arrange for time off to travel to and participate in the event. In October 2007, I completed my first marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon, in record high temperatures. After surviving that intensely rewarding, yet insanely challenging experience, I vowed to never run 26.2 consecutive miles ever again. Never say never. This summer I’ll be training for the 2008 Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.