“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro
It has been almost one year since I moved to Ankara and started working here. I haven’t written much since then, not because I am traveling less or running less. (actually its just the opposite) Its my laziness and this feeling of “don’t want to open my laptop after work hours”.
However, actually there is a lot to tell especially regarding my running experience and trainings in Ankara.
Lets rewind the story a little bit before I talk about my latest half marathon experience. (my upcoming blog post “4th Half-Marathon, 1st “Real HM” Race! – Runatolia 2015”)
Before I moved to Ankara, while I was looking for a job, I got more engaged in running. I was running almost everyday (in Izmir or in Istanbul). I started with short distances, 3K – 6K, easy 6:40 – 6:50 pace per km runs. It didn’t matter how fast I was going or how many km’s I was running. I was just running and feeling good about myself. These short & slow but regular runs improved my fitness and enabled me to build a base. I was not only running, but also going to pilates, swimming, spinning and playing tennis.
I moved to Ankara. Immediately I started to search for available places to go for a run. Luckily, my house was right near “Dikmen Valley” which is one of the few open area recreational spaces in Ankara. It was not the very best and healthy place to run, because of the ground (concrete) and the hills, but in Ankara standards living in an area where you can leave your house and start running without messing with the traffic is a luxury. First few months (until June), I was mostly running in Dikmen Valley. My first run in the Valley was 5K and I still remember that run very well since it was one of my most challenging 5K run! I have never ran in the hills before! I was exhausted! My average pace was around 7:00 pace per km! My body was used to running at sea level, flat surface.
Those few months I didn’t push myself to run faster. I was feeling that my body was adapting gradually. ı got used to the hills, the elevation and Ankara’s chilly weather.
That time, I signed up for New Balance 10K run in Eskişehir (in June 2014) with 2 friends who joined me from İstanbul. Actually, at first I wasn’t sure whether to sign up for 10K or 21K, but eventually I didn’t feel strong enough to complete 21K. Before the race, I didn’t really follow a regular training plan. I was running min 4 times per week on average 40-45min. I went to Eskişehir, ran for 10K, without having a target pace/time in mind. I was just running without really stressing myself about my tempo. I completed the race in 53 minutes. Not bad 😉
Upon my return to Ankara, I realized that I was getting sick of running in Dikmen Valley all alone. I started to question myself – what do people do in Ankara? Are there any runners here? Where do they run? Isn’t there any flat surface to run, I am tired of hills!?
Thanks to social media, after doing a brief search, found out about “Koşu Kadını” a blog started by a part-time academician at ODTU. (Koşu Kadını means Running Women). I read her posts and really enjoyed her warm, friendly tone. She was running either in ODTU campus or around Eymir Lake. I didn’t know about these places. Normally I am not a very extrovert and active person taking initiatives like this but one night ı decided to send a mail to Koşu Kadını. I thought, I have nothing to lose. Maybe she won’t even reply, but at least I wanted to give it a try. And ta taaa, she replied immediately! We met, sat for more than 1.5 hours and talked about running 😉 I am not going to mention Koşu Kadını’s story here in detail, because I believe it is best to read her blog and learn about this successful runner women from her own posts.
My first run with Koşu Kadını was around Lake Eymir. We were not alone. A friend of mine, and 2 friends of Koşu Kadını also joined us. We started to meet more regularly, during the weekends. I was feeling very motivated and getting more enthusiastic about running day by day. New people were joining us. The group was getting bigger. “Koşu Kadını” social media accounts, which were already popular, were getting even more popular. People were asking about the date, time and location of the runs, and whether they can possibly join us. Yes, sure!
In September, me and Armağan (Koşu Kadını) did something crazy and joined Frig Ultramarathon, 29K!!! Longest distance ever and first rail run experience! Felt so good!
Meanwhile our running group was getting bigger and we were all so motivated in organizing several special runs. We did a “Ladies Only Run” together with “Bu Kızlar Nereye Koşuyor” (another women’s running community based in Istanbul) attended by more than 60 women in Istanbul.
We also organized another Ladies Run around Lake Eymir jointly with Kafes Fırın (must go place if you are Ankara! Try their desserts!).
So what? How does this story end?
Actually the story is just starting. Within Koşu Kadını, new group was organically being formed. More and more males were joining the runs, although at first they were hesitating because of the group’s name. So, this is how “Ankara Koşuyor” is born.
We prefer to call Koşu Kadını and Ankara Koşuyor as “sister groups” since actually one is born from within the other. Currently the group has 15 core members who meet 3 times per week regularly for interval training, easy run and also long runs (on Sunday). To this date, more than 50 people joined us during one of our runs.
As Koşu Kadını and Ankara Koşuyor groups we;
Currently within the group, we have runners with different levels of experience; from beginner to experienced/advanced runners. Some of us recently ran their first race in Antalya (10K or 21K) whereas some of us already completed 2 marathons or getting prepared for a half-ironman. It doesn’t really matter if you run 10K, or 21K or a full marathon, and moreover it doesn’t matter whether you run with 6:40, 6:20, 5:30 pace or more/less. What matters the most is HOW YOU FELL WHEN YOU RUN!
I run because I feel free, I feel confident, I feel relaxed.
I feel proud of myself.
I feel that my body is in my control and actually my mind is stronger than I think in controlling my body. (more on this in my next blog post.)
After I started to run with this group, several things have changed regarding my runs and also my daily life.
How can you find us and follow us?
Next time you join a marathon, look for these pink & blue t-shirts! “Koşu Kadını” and “Ankara Koşuyor” members will be there 😉
If you are around Ankara, and eager to go for a run, let us know 😉