Sooo I don't know if you heard or not but I ran a marathon. I know, I know, it was over a month ago at this point but would you believe I've been recovering since then?! You should, because 26.2 is NO joke. Now I (kind of) understand why people get tattoos of 26.2 or at the very least a bumper sticker. That is a battle wound meant to be worn with pride.
While it was without a doubt the most physically and emotionally challenging thing I have EVER done in my life, I did it. And I did it pretty damn well might I add.
But, this post isn't about bragging about running a marathon, not in the slightest. This is about my running JOURNEY. Because believe you me it has been a JOURNEY. Also I HATE when people say "believe you me" but it seemed so fitting for that particular sentence.
Running, while a personal sport, is a very emotional sport for me. I grew up playing team sports for about 11 years (soccer, basketball and volleyball) and every single one involved running. In fact, two of those sports probably involve the MOST running out of all the sports. I think soccer players average something like 9 miles a game. Crazy!
But that kind of running was different. When I was chasing after something or someone to get the ball back, I felt like the fastest person around. I saw my opponent taking off with MY ball and just like that I was after them. Sure I was winded and left out of breath and believe me I was more often than not outrun by many girls faster than myself but I felt like I had a fighting chance.
I didn't however feel that way during conditioning. I can still remember the dread I felt, that knot in the pit of my stomach, twisting and turning my insides as my mom took me to soccer practice.
There was one drill in particular that involved running/back peddling/bear crawling/side shuffling the entirety of the field (which if you remotely know anything about soccer, you should know it is NOT a small distance), at least twice. It may sound ridiculous but believe me when I say I still have PTSD from that.
I was ALWAYS last, always huffing and puffing my way in and always on the verge of tears as I looked around and realized I was bringing up the rear. AGAIN. It was the most demoralizing feeling and as a result that's the exact feeling running drudged up inside of me.
It wasn't until 2015, when I ran my first Half Marathon, that I realized I could actually be good at running. Distance running that is. Granted I'm still slow as molasses, okay I think I should give myself a bit more credit molasses is pretty damn slow, but you get the idea, I'm the tortoise in the race of the tortoise and the hare.
When my coworker persuaded me to run the Nike Women's Half Marathon in 2015 I knew it was a serious commitment. That being said, I wanted to SHOW up which involved plenty of training. When I have a goal in mind, NOTHING will get in my way and you best believe I will achieve what I set my mind to.
Another big motivating factor for me was the idea of not being able to do it. I had those vivid memories of my lack of cardiovascular strength all those years ago and could easily envision myself getting to race day and not being able to perform. There was no way that was going to happen.
Knowing that, training was integral and necessary and something I would not be taking lightly. As was the case for this year's running feat, the 2018 Chicago Marathon.
The moment I heard we were doing something at work involving the Marathon, my ears perked up. I knew this was my opportunity, the BEST opportunity at that, to check "marathon" off the ole bucket list.
I put my name in the hat, this was happening.
From the beginning, there was a solid group of us who signed on for this crazy feat. Together we took on the unthinkable, the seemingly insurmountable task of running 26.2 miles in a completely different state and city - one with vastly different weather and landscape might I add.
Week after week we got after it. We added miles to our long weekend jaunts and before you knew it we were looking at 8 miles like it was nothing. We were on to bigger and better things, 14 miles that is.
At 16 miles I cried. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful scenery to clock my miles, than along the beaches in LA, but nevertheless I felt 16. Every single inch of me. With a mile left, I stopped at every bathroom and struggled more and more each time to get started back up again. That was easily the longest mile of my life but in addition it was the most miles I had ever run. Period. I finished, tears in my eyes, but incomparable pride in my chest.
And then I remembered...I had 10 more to go after that to reach 26.2.
But on October 7, 2018, I did just that. 26.2 freaking miles through the streets, the cities, the neighborhoods and the POURING rain of Chicago. A city I've frequented many, many times but never quite from this viewpoint.
While we told ourselves it was just another long run we had spent the last 16 weeks preparing for, this was THE long run. There was no turning back now.
I felt pains I hadn't experienced before. My toes hurt, my feet felt discomfort as they trudged along, marking off mile after mile and squishing in various puddles throughout the city, my body was soaking wet not with sweat this time (well that was mixed in there as well) but with rain. There was no drying off. Period. My pants suction-cupped to my body making it near impossible to quickly utilize the restroom in those cramped port-a-potty quarters and definitely added a few additional minutes to my overall time. I watched as people passed me by, heads held high, feet moving one after the other with ease, knowing I barely felt the strength to stand upright let alone continue running.
These people, this race, this day, it was no joke man.
The streets of Chicago were lined with over 1 million friends and family cheering on the 45,000 runners taking the streets of Chicago that day. That being said, there was NO way I was stopping with all those people watching me. Besides the fact that this was a serious marathon made up of thousands of serious runners who were also not stopping any time soon.
I crossed that finish line on that fine Sunday afternoon and was overcome with emotion. First of all, I realized it was 50 something degrees in Chicago and I was IMMEDIATELY chattering as my body temperature rapidly dropped, then I realized I had just DONE THE DAMN thing as someone's outstretched arms put a medal around my neck and then I immediately grabbed all the free food and drinks my hands could hold.
The smile on my face beamed from ear to ear and disguised the tears I wanted to shed. I was so, incredibly, proud.
Years ago, I may have been that little girl, struggling to make my way around the field, bringing up the rear as I was huffing and puffing to the end, but today I was a marathoner - something most people will never be able to say in their lifetime.
As of October 7, 2018, I am a marathoner.
(Originally Published November 18, 2018)