So I’ve decided to take a plunge of sorts and commit to running my first marathon ever this year. Yes, I will run 26.2 miles and train for it on my own (with the digital motivation of other “runnerds” like myself on dailymile, of course!). Never having run this distance all at once in my entire life, I’m unsure what to expect but I do have some expectations and anticipations of what that day will be like. I’ll likely spend the night pre-race restlessly tossing and turning with those normal jitters. I’ll likely wake up grouchy–I tend to before any race that I run, whether it be for fun or competition. I’ll be flustered getting my things together and head downtown with tens of thousands of other crazy people willing to run 26.2 miles just for the heck of it. All of these anticipations may sound extremely pessimistic about what the experience will likely be like, but there’s a switch. THE SWITCH at the starting line. You’ve waited months for this moment; you’ve run hundreds of miles in preparation for this crazy awesome event. Family and friends are likely excited and nervous and happy and proud for you all at once. You stretch thoroughly knowing that you’ll be happy you did post-race. But there’s something so natural and innate in you as a long distance runner to experience putting one foot in front of the other and carry your body towards your goal–that darn finish line. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to let my legs carry me there. Sounds easy, right? Let’s hope…
For those of you who know me, my decision to run a marathon is not abnormal. I enjoy being part of a community of people committed to being active and healthy. Growing up I ran cross country & track and ran a great deal of miles as a midfield soccer player. I feel like I was probably born with a runner’s body and I was fortunate to be put in a position to take advantage of that when I was in school. I’ve always liked the feeling of collecting running bibs, shoe timer tags, and ribbons/trophies from those races that my dad encouraged us to run every summer in Indiana. I still have my stack of cross country ribbons and I recently began a new stack of running bibs to keep myself mindful of what I’m capable of doing. I recently read a book called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by novelist, Haruki Murakami. It’s a reflection on how his career as an author is and always has been intertwined with his running. He averages 6 miles a day and has run upwards of 30 marathons all around the world. The book is like a mediation for long-distance runners. It almost calmed me down–put me in a position to really understand why I enjoy pounding the pavement. Of course, everyone has their own reasons for having a 5k, half marathon, or IronMan as a goal. He writes about how when you pass a runner on a path it may seem like they’re thinking very deeply about something, that there’s something going on in that head of theirs. But Murakami thinks that he, in fact, doesn’t think about anything when he runs. And I think Murakami and I may be alike in that way. I think maybe that’s why I enjoy running–it allows me to not think. I spend my whole day thinking–running is my meditation time.
So, I have been training and getting those base miles in for 4 weeks now. Since January 31st, I have run over 50 miles and spent 8+ hours putting one foot in front of the other on the treadmill, on the lakefront trail, and on the elliptical. It’s amazing what can happen and how your body can change in such a short period of time. On my rest days I find I’m restless and lethargic. My legs are getting acclimated to moving on a regular basis and I get anxious at work just waiting for the chance to put those shoes back on and go get ’em. Hopefully this motivated, determined feeling will remain in full-power through October when I put my mind and my body to the test. I have a feeling it will do just that–because when I set my mind (and body) on a goal, there’s no way out of it, no slacking off possible.
It’s been interesting thinking about what I’ve missed out on in the running community in the past couple of years. In college I was arguably less healthy than I am now. I attribute it to the whole collegiate lifestyle and to the mindset that usually takes over during that period that causes you to make less rewarding activities a priority over ones that might actually make you feel accomplished. I think I started to feel guilty about missing out on fun runs last year when I witnessed my brother’s training cycle and road to 10.10.10 Chicago Marathon. That weekend was so exciting–I was so excited that my brother was finally running a marathon, something that he’d thought about for years. He’s always been an active guy and had ambitions to do a lot with the body he was born into. My mom, older sister, and I waited on the course anxiously for Chris’ pace group to turn the corner. I couldn’t believe how anxious and jittery and excited and proud I was that day! I ran down the block with Chris, making sure to let him know we were there cheering him on. (He, of course, knew where we’d be but as a runner, I know that sometimes you block everything out and listen to the broken record in your head telling your body to do what you want it to do–to get to the finish line). I think I decided then that I would be running the Chicago Marathon this year. So, thanks Chris–you’ve been a motivating force in my life.
I’m sure you’ll be seeing some more updates on my training in the next couple of months. Until then, what’s stopping you from pondering what you could do with your body in the next couple of months?