People run for many various reasons. Some just want to get in shape. Others want to get faster and maybe qualify for the Boston Marathon. My running history began with the need to shed a few pounds. It was never more than a couple miles at a time. In 2009, I decided to run my first 10k. I had never ran that far. I was terrified and didn’t really have a plan. However, I ran the race and was hooked. It was the thrill of being out there with thousands of others who were on the same journey. After that race, I signed up for a half marathon. Little did I know that the journey to marathon had begun.
Fast forward to 2011. My marriage was falling apart. I needed to find myself. I wanted to do something positive for the world while my world was crumbling. I enjoyed running so why not do it for a cause. I decided to run my first marathon and do it as part of Team in Training. My brother-in-law’s mother had passed away a couple months before from leukemia, and I thought this would be a great way to honor her memory.
Joining Team in Training is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Their goal is to help runners of all types cross the finish line and help raise money to fight blood cancers. Each event has coaches and mentors that help guide you through the journey. I started to enjoy running for another reason. Every Saturday morning, I had a group of people to run and fellowship with. We all had different running goals, but we were all there for each other. We are given a schedule and we held each other accountable. We wanted to see each other get to the finish.
When training for a marathon, the mileage schedule is very important. We slowly build our bodies up to endure 26.2 miles. The schedule is there to build stamina and protect to us from injury. It helps you prepare your race plan but also keeps you from over training and possibly injuring yourself. 2 to 3 weeks before the event, we usually begin a tapering period. This is probably the toughest 2 weeks of training. After months of running 5 to 6 times a week averaging 30 to 40 miles a week, the schedule tells you not to run. That sounds insane, and you feel like you are going to go stir crazy. But it is part of the “plan”. It gives your body time to repair and heel for the main event. All of my runner friends describe this as the worst part of the training schedule and I agree. You get fake body pains. Your mind totally starts to mess with you. But that’s where the mental part of running comes into play.
Race day should be labeled “day of crazy”. I wake up around 4am so I can get ready for a race starting at 7am. This is where the mental preparation starts to kick in again. There are all kinds of butterflies floating around. Lots of friends and family are tracking me during the race. Am I ready? Would I let them down? They are on the same journey with me. I have to do my best for them. And that’s where the community helps. Tons of texts and messages from fellow runners, friends and family wishing you luck help to ease the nerves. Also, if a bunch of us are running the same race, we head to the finish line to see each other finish.
I just recently completed my 6th marathon, and I’m training for my 7th this fall. There is definitely excitement at the end of the marathon. Runner’s high does exist. However, there is grief, and pain, that the journey is over. You spend so many weeks building up to this event and 4 hours later (hopefully), it’s over. If I don’t have another race on my schedule, I find myself slightly depressed. I finally caught the carrot. There was no need for a 6am alarm to get up to train. What do I do with all this time now?
Luckily, the friends I have made running like to challenge each other. And we like to conquer those challenges together. I still run with the friends I made on that first marathon team. This has journey has turned me into a better person. I may never run fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. But that is fine with me. I’ve already gained so much more.