Sunday, May 3, 2009
I ran my first marathon on May 3rd, 2009 at the Lincoln National Guard Marathon. My journey started on a cold January night in 2008. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, was 25lbs overweight, and I was drinking like a fish to drown my sorrows. I knew my life had to change then and there. I had run sparingly over the years but never saw myself as a runner. I would run 3 miles here and there but that was the extent of my running. Two years earlier, I had run a 10k for the first time in 49 minutes. Those 6.2 miles were the farthest I had ever run. I ran another 10k a year and a half later in 52 minutes. The weight I had gained and the bad relationship I was in were dragging me down. I knew on that lonely January night that I was better than this person I had become. I decided at that second I was going to run a half marathon, a distance that was incomprehensible to me.
I trained all spring long and followed the Hal Higdon training program to a tee. My training runs were going great and I set my goal time to be under 1:50:00. I knew that was an accessible time for me and I would be happy to be anywhere near that time. I did even better than I thought I would. My time for my very first half was 1:37:19. I was thrilled! After that race, people kept telling me I was a shoo in to qualify for Boston if I did a marathon. Didn't people realize I wasn't a runner? I could barely run 3 miles three months prior to my half that spring! After another half marathon in the fall and another PR, 1:36:14, I decided to train for the Lincoln marathon. This time, I didn't follow any plan. I knew from talking with people that I had to get at least one 20 miler in before I ran a marathon. I did one 20 mile and one 14 mile training run. My mileage never topped 35 miles for any given week. I didn't think I was prepared but decided to run the full anyway.
I wasn't nervous at all when the marathon started. I loved how relaxed one can be at the beginning of a marathon. I didn't have to push myself at all the first half and I took it all in, the crowds, the runners, and course. I finished my first half of the marathon in 1:40 flat. I didn't even feel tired! However, at mile 16, I had to take a potty break. When I started running again, my legs were lead! My boyfriend was at mile 17 and he could see the pain in my face. The lack of long run training was catching up with me. I ran past him and once out of his view, I walked for 1 minute. After I collected myself, I soldiered on. Miles 19-22 were excruciating. Mile 19 had the longest hill I've ever seen and I fought my way up that. Water stations seemed to be scarce. I checked my watch and amazingly I was still on pace for the Boston qualifying time of 3:40:59. I gutted out the last 4.2 miles. I had to walk here and there and stop at the potty one last time. My legs and chest were killing me. At that point, I didn't care if I qualified for Boston, I just wanted to finish.
Then, all of the sudden, I saw the finish line in my view. It was a half mile down the street but I knew I would finish my first marathon and it was an incredible feeling! As I ran closer and closer, the crowds were cheering us in to the finish. All the pain and misery seemed to vanish. Crossing the finish line was one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life. My time of 3:34:08 was good enough for Boston and good enough for 34th place among the 422 women who ran the marathon. I had done it! In my year and half journey, I had learned so much. But the most important thing I learned was that I could do anything I set my mind to. My next marathon won't be until April 2010 in Boston but this time, I will make sure I train properly! Who knows how much faster I could've gone with the proper training!
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