“It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela
I have a little confession. It hasn’t been a lie, but a convenient omission. Oh-oh, this sounds familiar. I am writing a running-themed blog, but I’ve never run a full-marathon. That’s right. I have never run 26.2 miles. The longest distance that I have run is a half-marathon, several of them. (Well, according to my Garmin, which is very accurate, I ran 13.26 miles at the Nike Women’s Half, and then we walked at least 2 to 3 miles after to find an uber back to our hotel. But who’s counting. What do these numbers mean anyway.)
When I first started running a few years ago, my goal was to be able to run 5 miles. Get a good cardio workout in less than an hour, anytime, anyplace. No driving to a gym, no signing up in advance for a spin class. No pre-planning required. Registering for my first half-marathon was just to give me the drive to train, so that I could comfortably run 5 miles. Mission accomplished.
I didn’t just meet my initial goal; running became an integral part of my life. My run became my mental tonic, almost as essential to my well-being as food and water (and wine.)
Running brought me so much more than the quick convenient cardio workout I was seeking. As much as I love the run itself, I also love the race. Not the race in terms of competing with others. Coming in number 844 out of 2,632 in the 40-44 year age group doesn’t get you any color ribbon. It does, however, get you the best tasting free banana at the finish-line that you inhale in world record time. I love the pre-race expo day when I go to pick up my bib and race packet. When I walk into the expo and see thousands of excited runners, I can’t believe that I’m actually part of this group of disciplined and dedicated people who know what it’s like to need the energy you get from completely exhausting your body.
I love the race morning anticipation, the palpable excitement. When my friends and I were huddled before the race in San Francisco with over 26,000 runners at 6am, waiting for our race coral to be released, women were nervously sharing their stories: have you ever done a half before, this is my first or my fifth or my thirtieth. Many are in teams together for a cause. Some are wearing shirts dedicating their race to a lost mother, sister, or friend. One woman told us that she was in remission from leukemia running her first race….all of us got teary eyed….the rush of emotion is one that I can’t describe and just needs to be experienced. You are grateful to be among the ones running just because you are healthy and you can, and not in the memory of anyone else but for yourself.
I love every volunteer who hands you water or energy gel and is cheering at every passing runner with “you’re doing it,” “great job,” “you’re almost there,” “YOU GOT THIS.” When was the last time as an adult, you repeatedly got praise and encouragement like that. By the way, one of my 2015 goals is to be a race volunteer, to experience it from the other side.
And when you cross the finish line, it’s like a tsunami going through your body that says I CAN.
But as for a FULL marathon, I’m not kidding myself. I started running later in life. I’m honestly not sure if my body can handle the training required to run 26.2 miles. I know that if I do decide to go the distance, I don’t want to struggle through it. I don’t want to be cursing and crying and hurting the entire way. I know that may start happening at mile 20, but I don’t want it to happen before that.
If I run a full marathon, it may be the only one that I ever run. That’s what I said about training for a half, and now I’m registered for my 4th this April. But a full marathon is different.
I know that if and when I do it, I want to RUN the whole thing. I don’t want to run/walk it. I want to be prepared, enjoy it as much as possible, and leave it without major injury. I want to run the streets and neighborhoods of the city I live in. I’d love to run in Paris, but I really want to run THIS city. This is the city where I finally grew up and FOUND myself.
As of now, I plan to run the LA full marathon on February 14, 2016, and I hope to have you as my cheerleader on this journey of the little engine that could. That will give me a year to get my body prepared. It will be my valentine’s day gift to myself. Although that is my plan, I know that it may change. Something may happen in my life that doesn’t allow me the hours of training needed. If I get to the point in my training where I am running 16 or 18 miles and I am having pain and getting injured, I am making a promise to myself to stop. After all, what’s most important to me is to not have to put running away for a time. I want to experience the post 26.2 high at least once, but more than that, I want to be able to continue this love affair. I want to be able to regularly remain runsane.