We’re a little behind on blogging lately, but I figured it was worth sitting down for a few minutes to journal about my experience for one of my “bucket list” items: running a marathon.
As many of my friends and family know, I am most certainly not what most people would call a runner. Unfortunately, my father passed on those genes to my younger sister, not me. I’ve always been slow. Short and slow. Joining the military after college, I ran my booty off in basic training. I still wasn’t fast, but I learned a lot about pushing myself during those weeks and months. When I got back to Maryland after tech school, Michael had taken up running as a hobby. He ran his first race, the Marine Corps Marathon, in October of 2008. His family and I cheered him on throughout the race and were there to greet him after his 3hr 28min journey (a great time for a first marathon!). When he started the race that day, I watched as thousands of people crossed the “Start” line. Many of them looked like Michael, fit and healthy runners. Many others however surprised me. There were much older folks and some that looked very much out of shape starting too. I watched everyone, and as more of the “back of the pack-ers” crossed the line, I thought “Geez, if these people can run a marathon, so can I”.
And so it began…my first race wasn’t a marathon, it was the GW Parkway Classic 10-miler in April of 2009. I ran several more races in 2009 and the GW Parkway Classic again in 2010. I went on to run the Frederick Half Marathon in April 2010 and after we got back from our honeymoon in June, I started training for 26.2. 20 weeks of training later I had run a lot of long distance training runs, learned about what to eat and what NOT to eat along the way, what to wear, and most importantly how to push my body beyond extreme fatigue. On October 16th, Michael and his family, my friend Angela, and my running buddy/co-worker Kavita showed up to support me. Kavita was originally supposed to run the Marathon with me, but due to surgery, could only run the Half-Marathon that day. So, she waited for me at mile 16 and we ran the last ten miles together.
Luckily for me, the weather was just about perfect, if not a little windy. I didn’t have any “stomach issues” along the way either. The course was pretty hilly from miles 18-22 and I walked up a lot of them after coasting down a lot of hills in the first half of the course. I enjoyed the energy of race day and all the cheers from race spectators. I “hit the wall” like many runners do in the last six miles, but Kavita was there to help take my mind off the pain and remind me that finishing is all I needed to do to “win”.
I crossed the finish line at 26.2 miles, 5 Hours and 37 Minutes after I started the journey. I call it a journey because that’s what it was. I think many experienced distance runners may trivialize that and many non-marathoners may never understand it, but it’s a special experience to keep your mind in the game when everything about your body wants to quit. Obviously, this isn’t a story about how I became a fast runner; in fact, many many marathoners finish fast than my time every year. It’s just another testament to what you can do when you set a goal, train diligently, and plan your successes.