Ohio mother runner Tami Brigle, 28, makes the most of her "one-stoplight village" when it comes to her running: "I rarely have to stop for traffic!" she quips. This mom of one--Kenlee, 3--is looking forward to a local 5K over Memorial Day weekend, her town's only race of the year. "I love it because it’s a 'home' race for me – the route goes right past my front door! Our community members come out in droves to walk or run as a fundraiser for a scholarship in memory of a teacher who died of breast cancer. It’s a great race to enjoy with friends."
Best recent run: My last long run before the Glass City Half Marathon was a 7-miler on a gorgeous spring morning. I ran a new route, out in the countryside. The sun was shining, my legs felt fresh, and my playlist was hitting all the right tunes. Even though I was supposed to take it “easy” during taper, I was hitting the pace for a sub-2:00 half. I didn’t want to set a time goal for the race (I just wanted to finish strong, without walking), but by the end of that run, I decided I needed to try like hell for a big PR. Spoiler alert: I made it in 1:59:39!
Getting faster: I started running a little more than a year ago, as a way to boost my weight loss. When I was poring over running blogs and articles, I remember reading somewhere, “In order to run faster, you have to run more.” That really stuck with me.
From 5K … to 13.1: So I ran several 5Ks then decided to take on a half-marathon in October—because why not? I wasn’t focused on speed at all, but I did notice my pace was gradually improving with my increasing mileage. My first half-marathon (Rock ‘N’ Roll Cleveland) came in at 2:35:59. I walked most of the last three miles, but I was super happy just to have finished! I KNEW I wanted to run another half, and I KNEW I could do better. So over the winter, I gave myself lots of little “challenges” to stay motivated and just stay in shape. (Also, I was inching closer to my weight loss goal). I did the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak, logging at least 1 mile a day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Then I took on the Winter Miles Challenge from Run With Jess, pushing myself to a personal goal of 20 miles a week (almost every week) through the worst winter on record. I remember Jess writing, “Spring PRs are made in the dead of winter,” and she was right!
Nailing the half-marathon distance: When it came time to actually train for the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo, I made up my own personal training plan, based on my fitness from the winter and my new work schedule. That may sound crazy, but I trusted my gut. I also have never done “speed work” of any sort. On the AMR podcast with Dorothy Beal, I remember her saying she runs by feel. When she feels like she has speed in her legs, she’ll run faster (or something to that effect). I’m not nearly as fast as Dorothy, but her theory really resonated with me, and that’s how I approached all my training. When my legs felt good (and the snow was clear), I pushed myself harder. When the temperature was in the single digits (and my legs felt like popsicles) I doubled up the Under Armour and paid no attention to my time. I was happy to just get out there and finish my miles.
Secret to (speedy) success: All in all, when it came to the actual race, I think four things made a difference:
- Mental strength: I repeated “believe” over and over in my head
- The pacer: I was glued to that guy like my toddler glued to the TV watching “Frozen.”
- My CamelBak: I never had to stop for water! I don’t understand why more runners don’t embrace the water pack. I do my long runs with a CamelBak Dart.
- No potty breaks: I had to pee around mile 10, but I decided a little “leakage” was totally worth a PR. My sister made me sit on my foil blanket when we drove back to the hotel in her car. Ha!
The Running Life: Physically, running has improved my health beyond measure. I dropped 55 pounds since I started Couch to 5K, hitting my goal of 105 pounds lost and a healthy BMI (barely, but it gets my doctor off my back!). Even though I’m experimenting with other forms of exercise, I know running will always be a major part of my life. Mentally, running has given me the confidence to try new things and push myself to new limits. This year, I took on a new job, in a new field, with a new one-hour (one way) commute. It was intimidating at first, but it’s been fabulous! When I start to feel anxious or unsure, usually a good run can change my attitude. Plus, I found out that many of my coworkers are runners, so we have that unspoken bond as we get to know each other.
My running mantra: Never say never. Just a few years ago, I didn’t think I’d ever run a 5K, let alone a half-marathon. I never thought I would medal in my age group (At two small races! Yay!), break a 10-minute mile, or hell, be featured on AMR! Running – and life – are truly limitless. It’s amazing where both can take you.
My favorite race moment: Running in Ohio Stadium at the OSU 4-Miler with my husband. Kyle has been a huge part of my weight loss efforts because when he finally joined Weight Watchers with me, things really started to fall into place. We made changes as a family. He mostly prefers biking, but he took up running last year, too. We did a few 5Ks, a Warrior Dash, and the 4-miler together, at his pace. Around the same time as the 4-miler, I broke the 100-pound mark in my weight loss, so I made a fun T-shirt to celebrate. (Back of shirt: But Michigan is still the biggest LOSER. Haha!) That photo, that moment, signifies a big shift in our lives. It’s like we’re crossing a starting line, not a finish.
Must-have piece of running gear or clothing: My CamelBak Dart. (See above rave for not having to stop for water. Also, it holds my cellphone and chews for long runs.) For clothing: all things Under Armour (it helps to live near an outlet store and scout the clearance racks).
My go-to post-race meal: Nothing specific, but after good race I normally eat something that compels me to stop tracking Weight Watchers points for the day … if you know what I mean. 😉
What keeps me going when I hit a rough patch in a race: My family. I made all these changes in my life for them, so we can be more active and live a long life – together. My siblings also started running last year, and we’ve done several races together. It’s fun, and a bit competitive, to run with my brother and sister. I’m not gonna lie, beating my big sis (who has always been more athletic than me) at our last race was a big confidence-booster. Sorry, Jan!
What I thought about during today’s run: Death. And life. Things got deep because my husband’s grandfather passed away over the weekend. He had lung cancer, and I thought about how lucky I was to be out there, breathing hard and steady. The current AMR mantra of “I GET to do this” really struck a chord.
Best Mile Ever: Can we go with a quarter-mile? The day before the Glass City Half, Kenlee ran the Kids Marathon with me, holding hands the entire way. It was just one mile around the track, but she so excited! She has told everyone we know about her “marathon” and loves to show off the medal and teddy bear she earned. I hope that lap was the first of many we run together in the future.
My running, in three words: Family, Strong, Limitless