One of our favorite things about race day is watching runners’ faces as they cross the finish line. Each face tells a different story about months of tough training, overcoming hardship, working toward a goal or beating a personal best.
The Progressive Series challenge has supported participants to run distances they never thought possible and achieve their goals under the Arch at the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon. Participants in the series gradually increase their race mileage with the help of our free training guides, which help show that 13.1 miles is closer than you think. We’re grateful to partners like United Bank that encourage their employees to challenge themselves to go further and accomplish physical and mental feats.
Katy Bramley, United Bank employee, took on the Progressive Series and is sharing her journey with us - crushing goals and crushing defeats, follow along with her story as she works through the next challenge at the Mystic 10K on May 19 to reach the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon finish line on October 12.
Katy Bramley, United Bank
Setbacks sounds like steps-back, as in going backward. And running, in general, means moving forward right? Well, that’s the idea, but life doesn’t always work that way. I’ve been athletic all my life, and fortunate enough to only have a few sprained ankles or minor injuries along the way. It’s ironic that now, when I’m most enthusiastic about sharing my story with others, is when strange injuries decide to come along.
For the first time ever, I completed the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon last year. I had never run anything over 6 miles before that. Completing it literally brought tears to my eyes. It was an accomplishment that was unfathomable just 10 months beforehand, 40 lbs heavier and barely able to finish a single mile. The feeling was infectious and I could think about nothing else but how next year I would run the full marathon.
All was going according to plan until a few months ago my running sessions were cut short. Each run was more and more agonizing, to the point I was in crippling pain and getting questions when limping around my co-workers. It would be easy to forget my plans for running the full marathon and go back to my life before running. It took me a few days and some time nursing my emotions to come to a conclusion. I just had to adjust. I had to find a new goal that would make me proud just the same. That’s what lead me to my new mission. My new goal is to complete the Hartford Marathon Foundation's Progressive Challenge series. Just a few weeks ago I completed the Legends 3.5 at the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown 10 Mile, the first race since my injury, and next up is the Mystic 10K. I’m excited to say that I’m on track in my training to be able to run the entire course at my 5K pace!
Along with the training plan I’ve been following, I’ve also been practicing a skill that perhaps plagues some of us now and again. That skill is self control. Naturally, I just want get to running 100% as soon as possible and ignore when I’m in pain. I half convince myself that “it’s fine, it will go away”, as we all do when we don’t necessarily face the fact it might be more serious. Over the past few months I’ve had to take the time to stretch longer than normal, warm up more than I care to, and follow pre- and post-run recovery routines that I never had in the past. I’ve done those tasks, along with physical therapy for those cranky muscles that are causing the pain. I equate it to “paying the bills.” I ran up my credit too high and am paying down what I owe my body. It’s funny, I never would have guessed it turns out those 6 and 7 mile runs on the 10K training plan weren’t the “real work” it takes to be a runner. It’s the tedious little chores I now do to take care of my body long term.
Speaking of the little things, that’s what keeps me motivated. I have a great time when I run with my 11 pound Papillon. He’s got a ton of energy and is a fast little guy, it makes me forget that I’m even running. It’s the tiny butterflies I feel when I get out of bed the morning of a long run. I think about how I enjoy the pounding on the pavement and how exhilarating it feels to be finished.
What I love about this sport is how amazing and unifying it is that everyone can have a different goal, but running towards the same goal all at once. It’s the same course and same finish line, but a completely different journey for everyone. It reminds me, I once had a t-shirt given to me that read “Success is a journey, not a destination.” In my case, it’s never felt more appropriate than now.