Michael: “The point of the marathon is to run, that far. You don’t know how your body or mind is going to react; the point of it all is to just go do it.”
The decision came about in 3 phases.
Throughout the summer, and even prior, Michael constantly told me, you can run a marathon. I let the idea slide based on wrist/arm pain I was experiencing from overuse with work. When I ran, my wrists would hurt so bad that my hands would eventually go numb.
That issue slowly subsided after weeks of occupational therapy and stretching. However it didn’t actually stop bothering me until 10 weeks ago when I started lifting with a personal trainer. It literally blew my mind that the one thing everyone told me not to do, fixed the problem. (I’m finally back to practicing yoga!) That’s when I told my trainer, my boyfriend had been pressuring me to run a marathon. We both agreed a half-marathon would be best, especially as most people start training for a marathon 3-4 months in advance.
But that’s the night I went home from the gym fully committed to running a full marathon. That tiny hint of doubt my trainer and I agreed upon, slightly pissed me off. You don’t think I can run a marathon in 9 weeks? I don’t think I can run a marathon in 9 weeks? Well, I’ll show all of you, even you: me.
I poured my dedication, energy and some money (highly-rated running gear, extra visits to the Chiropractor, better food, massage, KT Tape) into training. I was fitted for and traded out 2 different pairs of running shoes mid-training and 2 weeks before the race. That was scary, until the last pair of shoes were slapped on my feet—the new version of the original ones I started training with in the first place.
I was realistic and at times forgiving with my training schedule. We ran anywhere from 3-8 miles, roughly 3x/week. We took 1-2 days off each week and always ran our long runs on the weekend. Cross-trained the leftover days. Our long runs typically took place on Saturday or Sunday. We ran 10 mile “active recovery runs” every other week to allow our bodies some precious healing time. Outside of running 10 miles on Week 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, our longer runs were as follows:
Week 2: 13.1 miles (half-marathon) – felt awesome, loved every minute of it
Week 4: 15.2 miles – M & I both wanted to die on this run, whereas Shawna had the complete opposite experience
Week 6: 17-18ish miles – ran this one in Nebraska and did not hydrate or eat enough, felt super discouraged
Week 8: 20 miles – ran this one around Wash Park in Denver (8 laps) & all 3 of us felt incredible; it was at this point, I knew I could run a marathon
On Sunday, I learned there is a significant learning curve to running a great marathon. Despite the professional advice, there is no given advice for experience. Only, Run walk crawl dance… however you do it just finish, from my Ultra-marathoner friend, Lacey.
So many factors will show themselves on your race day. Learning how to adapt to each with knowledge, patience and grace can only come from running more marathons. Case in point, I have a new appreciation for marathon runners and beyond.
The marathon didn’t go as planned or expected, and that’s a good thing for someone like me: to have to accept that.
We started off slower than anticipated and I became wrapped up in the seriousness of our goal. I defaulted in the first 10 miles of the race by blocking out others. This was the wrong thing to do. The truth of the experience is others—even in high-stress. Strangers, spectators, supporters, medical tent volunteers, Shawna and Michael were what really mattered. They are the reason, they are why we put our bodies out there. We trained together and made a pact that we’d start and finish together. And we were there for each other when that unknown territory came about, those last 6.2 miles.
I mean, I can’t believe what happened. Our support crew: Chais, my mom, step-father, step-sister and her husband met us 5-6 times along the way. They poured Jameson in their coffees, made all the runners hilarious signs. My mother carried a basket of BioFreeze, band-aids, granola bars, GU, and Ibuprofen. Towards the end, complete strangers handed us grapes and oranges. One group of awesome people handed us Dixie cups of beer. We met an older man around Mile 20 that had the same predicted finish time; also his first marathon. He said to us, “I retired in June, and needed something to do.”
Around Mile 22 or 23, we were totally surprised–the same personal trainer that helped fuel my decision to run this thing in the first place was standing there with his dog. At Mile 25, more unexpected friends, Linda and David who reminded us of our inspiration and courage to even try. I almost cried. It doesn’t stop there, oh no. My mother. At mile 26, my mother appeared out of nowhere with a beard and bandanna. I laughed uncontrollably while running several yards in between my two rocks: my mother and my boyfriend, both rocking a beard. At 26.1 my step-sister appeared wearing a beard, I remember high-five-ing her and tearing up at the same time. Then, 26.2. We saw Chais and the announcer accused Michael of picking up these two girls during the race! After that I just remember being cold, drinking chocolate milk and stating several times, “that was hard.” I wondered why the temperature had dropped mid-race and questioned why I had to pee so often. I was delirious for the next 48 hours.
I may have started that race thinking it was just me and city asphalt but I finished and shared it, hand-in-hand (literally) with two incredible people, not to mention 15,000 others and a lot of open air. It was the most physically demanding experience of my life (to date) and if there’s one thing I can share with you.. something meaningful, it’s this:
It becomes a simple request of asking your body to keep going. It’s simple: will you ask your body to do it and when your body doesn’t answer, will you answer for it?
A special thank you to everyone who came out and supported us or even thought about us on race day, + Chais (Full Course Travel) for taking memorable photos during the race, as seen in this post.