Goals for 2016, Running

The Road to My First Marathon

If you had asked me 8 years ago when I ran my first 5k if I would ever run a marathon, I would have laughed and said no way. In fact, at that time, even the thought of running a half marathon seemed completely impossible. I wasn’t even sure if I’d run anything more than a 5k in my whole life. And for quite a few years I held that thought.

I struggled with running for a while. It was pretty much non-existent in my life after that first year that I ran three 5k races. I finally tried getting back into running in 2012, but even then it was a struggle. That was until I met my friend Maggie. She was a huge inspiration to me, and she inspired me to run more, and to run further. I ran a 10k and really enjoyed it – but still did not think that I could run longer distances.

In 2015, I really started to take my running seriously. I decided to set a goal to run a race each month during the year. Although that year I did accomplish a huge goal by running the Crim 10 mile race, I still did not run a half marathon. I did, however, join a few running groups that encouraged me to seriously train for one. Through one of those running groups I met my friend Staci. We did an 8 mile training run together and discovered that we had so much in common, it was scary! She offered to run my first half marathon with me if I wanted, but understood if it was something I’d rather do on my own. I said, “Are you kidding me? Of course I want to run with you!” So I met up with her and we ran my first and her second half marathon together. After that race, I thought… well maybe some day I could run a marathon, but I’m not sure. When Staci told me she was running one this fall in Detroit and suggested maybe I run it with her, I laughed. Oh man, who’s laughing now!?

Fast forward to this summer. I started talking to the admins from my other running group on a regular basis, Matt and Paula. And somehow Paula inspired me to start a marathon training plan. We both agreed we’d do the marathon training plan to get ready for the half we were going to run together – The Capital City River Run. I had decided I wanted to run that half because it had a full marathon too and another running friend of mine had suggested that would be the best way to inspire me to run a full some day. We had picked out the Grand Rapids Marathon to be our potential first marathon together.

Then came my 14 mile training run. A really sucky training run. This summer was awful for training – it was hot and humid and gross. That 14 mile training run was awful – I only ended up doing 13.25 miles. It was the weekend before the Crim and I was seriously reconsidering my insane decision to run a marathon this year. I talked to my friends, especially to Staci, and debated whether or not I wanted to run the Grand Rapids Marathon or move it up a week and run Detroit with Staci. I was struggling with running without intervals. Later that week before the Crim I ran a 10k with intervals and ended up with a PR. I had an amazing time at the Crim with some ladies from my local running group. And that day I told Staci I was going to run Detroit with her. She was elated!

After the Crim, my next run was 18 miles with Staci. I was very intimidated by that run since I was jumping from 13.25 miles to 18. It ended up being challenging, but we did it! And when were done, we celebrated. The next weekend we ran 20 miles together, and felt even better about it. Our confidence was getting higher. I went into the next week excited and hardly nervous about my half at the Capital City River Run.

And then I got injured during my half marathon. Around mile 11 or so I started to feel a pain behind my knee. I had never felt anything like it before, but didn’t think it was an actual injury. Luckily I had started going to physical therapy so I was able to go in right after that race and found out that I had strained my hamstring. I was upset, to say the least, and stressed. This close to my marathon – how could I get hurt!? I followed my PT’s instructions and rested instead of doing my final 23 mile run with Staci. I slowly got back into running just in time to taper.

As my final week before the marathon approached and I realized my 20 mile run was more than a month ago, I was getting scared. The weather forecast was looking ugly. I was getting super frustrated. Had I really trained for so many months and put my body through hell for this marathon day to suck? I was nervous about parking. I was stressed about how my family was going to get there. My PT assured me that I was physically ready for my marathon. I said, “Yeah, I might be physically ready, but am I mentally ready?” He and everyone around me said yes – you’re mentally ready. But I was having my doubts.

The day before the marathon I was a mess. My stomach was upset all day long, and I didn’t eat enough. I was nervous that I hadn’t eaten enough of drank enough. I was nervous that I wasn’t going to get enough sleep. I had dreams that my watch died before the race began and that my family didn’t get to see me finish.

But my stomach did feel better after dinner that night. And I went to bed at a decent hour and got a good sleep, minus those couple of dreams and waking up when my husband got back to the hotel room after work. I felt pretty good marathon morning… but that’s where this story ends and my next one begins. My marathon story is to be continued… I promise I won’t keep you hanging for long!

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