Some of you may know that I have signed up to run a full marathon in a short couple months. That’s 26.2 miles and, for me at least, a 4-5 hour commitment (for that day). I started running half marathons almost on a whim and ended up running 3 half marathons in one year and loving the feeling of accomplishment. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with half marathon is not the feeling of placing well or beating my goals or passing others. It’s simply the accomplishment of finishing.
The full marathon remained out there – an elusive 13.1 miles on top of the 13.1 I knew I could do. Just beyond, just a little too much.
While growing up I was a sprinter. I ran hurdles, 100 m, 200 m, and at most the dreaded 400 m. I excelled at short spurts of high intensity – like defense in basketball. Never did I ever imagine that running – real, raw, slow and time-consuming running – would be what I turned to for stress relief and a good workout.
Last summer I found out a friend of ours had a girlfriend who ran a full marathon. The next game night we had I asked her about it. She ran/walked it. And she hardly trained. Not quite the type of example you’d choose to imitate (does that really make running 26.2 sound good?), but it did give me that encouragement ‘if she can do it so can I.’ And here we are. I told J if I don’t do it now, before 30, before kids, I won’t.
I started my training the week we closed and move into our home. I count some of our projects as my cross training and have completely abandoned my original training schedule for one that affords me a bit more freedom and gives me more rest time because I’m still getting used to the miles. The best story of my training, thus far, is when I had J drive me out o town – we had had a small patch of usually warm weather for ND Spring, and this day was our dip back down into cooler temps. We crawled 12 miles out of town and I tried to make mental notes of where miles were. J made sure I had my phone on and charged and he made sure his volume was up. It took less than half a mile before I threw in the towel because 24 degrees and 30 mph winds are actually really cold conditions – even after ND winter. We drove back enjoying our Sunday drive – me with a sheepish grin and J glad I wasn’t actually running outside.
My training has been an up and down experience thus far to say the least.
I don’t even know how someone with a family and a full time job trains for something like this. It’s been wearing on me and we don’t even have kids. Just an 11 month old puppy and a new house.
Why? Why would I commit to this?
The only real response is because I can – or rather, to see if I can.
And for the love of the run.
I am a very competitive person. I love excelling, winning games or bets, etc. But running is a different type of competition. Runners might run along side ear other, definitely wanting to pass, but ultimately are competing against themselves. Every successful training run I have is the result of mentally choosing not to stop – step after step. “I’ll run for this amount of time” keeps me going until the time is up which is followed by “only 8 more laps” which takes me through the next mile. Running tests your own limitations, your will power, and your mental strength.
And I love breaking down limits. I have no idea if I’ll even make it to the full marathon. I’ve told J numerous times that I’m discouraged in my training and last week I wanted to throw in the towel. Then I had a really great 7 miles run and I was back in it – mentally. More than anything this training shows me that choices are made one small step at a time – and that those small ones are the ones that really matter.