7-Year Raceiversary Inspiration For Running Beginners

Raceiversary Inspiration For Running Beginners

Finishing my first 10K. (Photo: brightroom)

Seven years ago to the day, I toed the line in my very first race. My raceiversary reminds me how far I’ve come: from a totally clueless newbie in cotton socks to an intermediate runner with seven marathons under my race belt. Running beginners, take heart.

On April 29, 2007, I remember being incredibly nervous as I readied for my first race ever, with 5,720 other runners lining up in New York City’s Central Park. I’d being running casually for two years already, so I’d run those hills countless times. But I still didn’t know what to expect from a “race.” It was New York Road Runners’ Run as One TGL Classic. I pushed myself as hard as I could and finished the 4-miler in 46:19 at an 11:34 pace.

Seven years later, I’m amazed by how far I’ve come. My 4-mile personal best is 34:38 at an 8:40 pace. I clawed my way from the back of the pack to the middle to the front of the middle. My half-marathon personal best is 19:18 faster than the national median time of 2:19:48 for women.

And I’m still getting faster.

I hear from running beginners a lot. Having started running from scratch after battling a bone tumor in my leg for a decade, I know what it’s like to hit the pavement and be instantly out of breath. But I also know that by sticking with it, I just kept getting better and running just kept getting easier.

So I thought I’d share some cold, hard stats about just how far I’ve come as a runner. Here’s a comparison between my race times from 2007 and now. The moral of the story: If I can do it, anyone can.

Inspiration For Beginning Runners

My first 1 miler at the Norway Run. (Photo: brightroom)

Inspiration For Running Beginners

My first race, April 29, 2007

4 miles then: 46:19 at 11:34 pace
4 miles now: 34:38 at 8:40 pace

At a 2013 track workout

My first 3-miler/5K, May 22, 2007

3 miles then: 32:17 at 10:45 pace
3 miles now: 23:22 at 7:47 pace

At the 2013 Wild Dog Triathlon

My first 10K, June 9, 2007

6.2 miles then: 1:11:20 at 11:30 pace
6.2 miles now: 54:09 at 8:44 pace

At a 2013 track workout

My first 1-miler, October 6, 2007

1.7 miles then: 16:14 at 9:32 pace
1 mile now: 6:46 at 6:46 pace

At the 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile (I haven’t raced a mile since then!)

Inspiration For Beginning Runners, New York City Marathon

Crossing the finish line of my first marathon. (Photo: brightroom)

My first marathon, November 4, 2007

26.2 miles then: 5:54:25 at 13:31 pace
26.2 miles now: 4:28:06 at 10:14 pace

At the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon

U.S. median women: 4:41:38 at 10:45 pace
U.S. median men: 4:16:24 at 9:47 pace
Stats from Running USA

My first half-marathon, November 4, 2007

(That’s right, my first half-marathon was the first half of the New York City Marathon! I didn’t race one until 2010.)

13.1 miles then: 2:45:56 at 12:40 pace
13.1 miles now: 2:00:30 at 9:12 pace

At the 2012 Staten Island Half Marathon

U.S. median women: 2:19:48 at 10:40 pace
U.S. median men: 2:01:37 at 9:17 pace
Stats from Running USA

Inspiration For Running Beginners

After nailing my current 3-mile PR. (Photo: Phil Hospod)


Anytime I get down on myself as a runner, have a bad race, or anything else that makes me doubt myself, I look back at these race times from 2007. I’ve come so incredibly far as a runner. And I know I still have more progress in me.

Now I’m staring down my 15th stand alone half-marathon, the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half in Newton, Mass., on June 8. I’m hoping to finally go sub-2 there. If not then, I know it will happen this fall.

So here’s to progress! I look forward to celebrating many more raceiversaries and personal records in the years to come.

Running beginners, are you with me?

Don’t forget to enter my SHAPE Diva Dash giveaway! One winner will get two race entries in any of eight cities around the U.S., a subscription to SHAPE magazine, and a month’s supply of EAS products. Or register with code AXKB to get $10 off.

Run the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half with me! Use codes blogrunkarlarunHalf, blogrunkarlarun5&10, blogrunkarlarunHat to get 10 percent off registration for Heartbreak Hill Half, the 5K and 10K Five & Dime or Hat Trick of all three races.


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

About The Author

Karla Bruning

Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

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Author his web sitehttp://runkarlarun.com

0 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. MJ #

    Such an inspiration! I managed to injure my knee somehow and have to wait what the doctor says on Friday so am a little gutted that I can’t run right now, I’m missing all the good races! Not that I’m fast, far from it actually, but I still miss it. Thank you for inspiring me that one day I will get better 🙂
    MJ recently posted..Running Tutu – In DetailMy Profile

    • 2

      Hope your knee heals quickly! I know how frustrating being sidelined can be.

  2. 3

    It’s great seeing your race time comparisons from then and now. You’ve improved so much over the years! Running is so great because if you do it consistently, it just gets easier over time and you get faster 😀
    Jojo @ RunFastEatLots recently posted..Weekly Chase 4/29My Profile

    • 4

      Absolutely! I’m hoping 2014 with be another big PR year!

  3. 5

    Thank you…so much for this! I really needed to hear this TODAY! Thsi is a perfect post for today!
    Smitha recently posted..La Jolla Half 2014 Recap!My Profile

  4. 7

    Happy Raceiversary! A magical day indeed. I think we should have cake to celebrate.
    Nicole @ Pink Elephant on Parade recently posted..Lessons Learned: Nike Half Marathon 2014My Profile

  5. 9

    What a great idea to look back and see how far you have come. An inspiration for all runners, not just beginners!
    Kristi Raz recently posted..Ottawa Race Weekend Bib Market…My Profile

  6. 11

    Happy Race-versary!! You have come so far, and are a huge inspiration!

  7. 13

    Shucks! I wish I had kept better track of this stuff! I might try to track down some numbers in a few old races!
    Cheri @ Overactive Blogger recently posted..What’s your number?My Profile

    • 14

      I’m super nerdy. I keep a spreadsheet of my PR progression at all these distances. Athlinks is great for finding old race times.

  8. 15

    Yay, Happy Merry Race-versary!!!!!! I love posts where runners reflect on where they’ve been and how far they’ve come. Great photos of you, I especially like the look of concentration that you have for the Norway Run and the look of elation after your 3-mile PR.
    Elle recently posted..Wishin’ and Hopin’ at Henry’s Hope Verrazano Festival of Races Half MarathonMy Profile

    • 16

      Thanks! I was SO happy after that 3-mile PR. I honestly couldn’t believe I did it.

  9. 17

    A great comparison. I’m bummed since I can’t really run right now, but I’m doing weight work. I’m hoping that’ll make me stronger and then faster when I can start running again.
    Lesley recently posted..Chicken with Pasta and VeggiesMy Profile

    • 18

      Weights should absolutely hold you in good stead. And I’m always amazed by how quickly you can regain cardio fitness once you’re back. Hope you’re 100% soon!

  10. 19

    HAPPY RACEIVERSARY!!! I’m not going to lie, I needed this post. With a string of bad runs under my belt, I’m in a bad place running/mentally-wise. But, it’s important to remember how far I’ve already come! And I’ve only been racing 2 years, I still have a long way to go! Thanks for always being a great example! 🙂
    Kellie recently posted..ABC Goals for BrooklynMy Profile

    • 20

      Thanks, Kellie! It’s so easy to get down on yourself as a runner. I always find that looking back at how far I’ve come helps snap me out of a funk. You still have so much PR-ing ahead!

  11. 21

    Congrats, Karla! You’ve made amazing progress. Question: I notice you consider your first half marathon to be the first half of the NYC Marathon… So when you say you are soon running your 15th half, does that include each half of every full you’ve run? Or does that mean your 15th standalone half? I know that PRs can be calculated from within longer races, but I figure that counting individual 5Ks, 10ks, from “inside” longer races gets to be nightmarishly complex. i.e. every 4-miler I run I don’t consider to also have contained a 5k.
    Arun recently posted..Race Report: Cold Feat 10KMy Profile

    • 22

      Thanks, Arun! I mean my 15th stand alone half. I don’t usually count shorter distance PRs from within longer races. I just used that half since I didn’t run an actual 13.1-mile race until 2010, when I was already much faster. So that seemed like a more fair comparison of my progress since 2007. Agree that it would be too confusing otherwise!

  12. Pam #

    Wow, you have really improved over the last five years. I am not sure where you found the median times for runners, but I love those statistics. It is fun seeing where you are compared to the masses of runners we see at races. Congrats and good luck at the Heartbreak Hill half. I plan to do at least one training run on Heartbreak Hill this summer since I recently qualified for Boston and am petrified of those Newton hills!
    Pam recently posted..Day by day calendar for runners!My Profile

    • 25

      Thanks, Pam. Those stats are from Running USA. I updated the post to include that. Congrats on your Boston qualifier! I’m still a while away, so I’ll have to crush Heartbreak Hill for now!

  13. 26

    Congratulations, Karla! You have indeed come a long way!! I’m so proud of you. Have a wonderful raceiversary!
    Janice Brown recently posted..CTR Captain BluesMy Profile

  14. 28

    First of all, have raceiversary! You have come so far! I’ve been feeling really frustrated lately because I’m not seeing improvement the way I once did, so I totally needed to read/hear this. Thanks so much for the inspiration! 🙂
    Jennifer @ The Final Forty recently posted..Weekly Workouts and My First “Walk”My Profile

    • 29

      Thanks, Jennifer! Those plateau’s can be so frustrating, but I’m sure you’ve still got lots of improvement ahead!

  15. 30

    Love this, you have come so far and have so much more in you. Keep on being fabulous lady!
    Laura @losingrace recently posted..Post Boston Thoughts: Race, Security, Time, & Experience.My Profile

  16. 32

    I like the idea of celebrating race-iversaries! And congratulations on how much you’ve improved. Here’s to many more happy years indeed!
    Sadye recently posted..I was nominated for a Liebster Award!My Profile

  17. 34

    Well, nothing beats pure hard work. Hats off to you for not being afraid to put it in. One of the great things about running is that the results are quantified so you know exactly where you stand. Hope you reach your goals this year…
    Randy recently posted..Zero Drop Running ShoesMy Profile

  18. 36

    Those are great stats Karla – you’ve improved so much! I’m sure you’re capable of a sub-2 half in June. Stay consistent with the training and you’ll do it.
    Ewen recently posted..The second age of high motivationMy Profile

  19. kae #

    Very Inspirational! What did you do to get faster? Do you do anything other than running?? Any training plan recommendations for half’s or fulls?? Planning my first full soon. I have 6 half’s under my belt…still chasing sub 2 🙂

    • 39

      Thanks! Other than simply running, a lot, I think the biggest thing that helped me improve was adding speed work at a track to my half-marathon and marathon training. Once I started doing that, I saw big improvements. For cross-training I swim and bike about once a week each in the summer months.

      The training plan that got the best results out of me is: “Run Less, Run Faster.” Both my current half-marathon and marathon PRs are from when I trained with this plan. http://www.amazon.com/Runners-Faster-Revised-Edition-3-Run/dp/1609618025

      I also like “You (Only Faster).” It’s what I’m training with now, so half and full results remain to be seen, but I’ve run 5K and 10K PRs on these plans. https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/youOnlyFaster

      My advice with a training plan is find one that fits your style as a runner. “You (Only Faster)” is great for helping you figure that out. Good luck getting that sub 2 and training for your first full!
      Karla Bruning recently posted..Brooklyn Half Marathon 2014 Largest In US: SlideshowMy Profile

      • Kae #

        Thank you so much for your response. I have the Run Less, Run Faster book. I think I better dust it off. I was having to hit the stationary bike at the gym and swimming was only an option when it was warm, so I stopped the plan 🙁
        Think I will give it another shot!!


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