Well, I did it. I ran a FRIGGIN’ MARATHON today. I don’t even know where to start with this whole story because it really transcends my entire life that I was able to achieve a goal like this. Before a year ago, I didn’t even know what distance a marathon was, and before a year and a half ago when I ran my first 5k, I had no clue what distance a 5k was either. Of course, you hear about the Boston Marathon, but who the hell really knows what the distance is, well, I ran that distance today, and overall, I feel great.
We will back up to before we transport the story back even further. Friday I started to feel under the weather. My nose was stuffed up, my breathing was shallow, and my lungs were full of phlegm. I was unimpressed as I knew I only had one day of potential rest before I had to run 26.2 miles at 7:45am on Sunday. The cold wasn’t too bad, so I went about my day and went to see my friend Allison’s band play that night. Afterwards, I made poor decisions of a person who is about to run their first marathon. I stayed up very late and then spent the night at a friends house, getting next to no sleep. The next day, I felt a little bit worse than the day before, but I ran some errands with another friend, then hit up the drug store to get some Airborn and Zicam. I got home around 3pm, filled my body with gatorade, Aleve, Zicam, and Airborn, hoping that this combination with sleep would kick this cold out of me. I woke up again around 5 feeling slightly better and talked to my roommate about my poor health condition. I was going to spend the night in Portland with a friend, so I only had to travel a few miles rather than 2+ hours to get to the race, but it was looking more and more like I needed to sleep in my own bed to evaluate my health. I went back to sleep for about 2 hours and got up for some food. I felt a little big better, but still not great. I started getting my stuff together: body glide, shorts, shoes, playlist (with 645 songs on it, hah), headphone, and everything else I needed so I could just leave when I woke up. I also shaved my nipples, which in retrospect was a good idea (and just a good idea outside of racing! haha). I went back to bed a little after 10 with an alarm set for 3:30am. Surprisingly, when the alarm went off, I got up pretty quickly and only hitting snooze 2 times. I felt dismayed at the fact that my head was still congested, my throat and chest still feeling the harshness of the cold. I decided I couldn’t back down though, I had been waiting months and months for this, and as the season is getting colder, this was my last chance this year to achieve this goal. I had texted my friend Katie (who got me into running awhile back, was my weight loss coach, and now, a friend!) and said I could switch to the half. I texted back, “I’ve been waiting for this for months! I’m going to do it, rain, shine, lungs, legs, or hellfire on Earth haha, hopefully ill still finish and you won’t find me on mile 18 keeled over haha. Im going to bed within the house, getting everything ready now”. I gathered my things and I left for Portland. The drive down was rather dark, as one could imagine leaving at 4:15 in the AM. The ride down was pretty good, I listened to a 90’s Pandora station based off of Natalie Imbruglia, so all was well in the world (although I heard WAY more Jewel than NI).
I arrived, picked up my race packed, went back to the car to apply my nipple cream. SIDENOTE: In retrospect, it is called Body Glide for a reason – one should use it on many areas of their body, not just their nipples. My pain and lack of skin in some important areas of my body will be noting this for future long runs. I waited for Katie then found her near the potties, and it was nearly race time. We lined up at the 9 minute-ish pace. My original goal when I signed up for the race was under 5:00:00 , then as I became more confident, my goal was under 4:30:00, which felt pretty substantial. I marked my running app for a 10:00 pace, and I knew if I kept around there that I could probably hit the 4:30:00 mark (4:20:00 would be a solid 10:00/m pace). The National Anthem was sung, and I started to feel an overwhelming sense of elation: “I am going to do this, I am going to run a freakin’ marathon”.
Then it was off (or on, depending on perspective).
Katie buzzed ahead of me, but I knew in order to be successful this had to be a marathon, not a race for me. I couldn’t let others move away from my pace. The first 4 miles or so breezed by and my pace was pretty solid around 9:50/mile.
After I got to the first relay point (6.5 miles), I was able to start calculating the amount of distance I had left. I knew I was a quarter the way done, and again at the half-marathon turn around, I was half done my run. At mile 1o, there was someone dressed up as big bird holding a sign that said “halfs are for sissies”, and although it was a big mean, it made me laugh and really energized me to keep going. Before that, around mile 12, I saw Katie. I knew sometime after mile 11 I would see her at a turnaround, and luckily just hit her before I went around a big loop. Seeing her trucking along was an awesome boost to get to the halfway point. I kept telling myself, “get to 13, then you can re-evaluate your life from there”. This was the only part of the race that was in a loop section – it went down a residential neighborhood, turned around, then went around another loop before changing to the original returning course.
Honestly, I didn’t really start getting tired until mile 17, which was fantastic because a few weeks ago I ran about 16.5 and I felt like hell on Earth. Literally every step was like me getting a charlie horse.
Smooth sailing (as much as one could expect) from 17 – 20, then I started getting a bit tired, but I knew I only had a 10k left to run and that seemed doable at this point in the day.
Then, at mile 22, I just stopped. I didn’t want to, my body just said “you will not go on”. I walked for about 30 seconds, and I had been pacing out my run to try and beat 4:30:00, so I kept on going and at mile 25 got a huge burst of energy. I thought it was interesting that there were so many people were slowing down – at this point, “just work through the pain” is what I thought.
The homestretch felt amazing, I had to hold back crying so I could finish the race. A barrage of photographers and people cheering was overwhelming in a way I couldn’t possibly describe.
As I passed the finish line Katie was waiting along with another friend to greet me as I got my medal and finished my first marathon.
There aren’t a lot of words that I can use to describe the feeling. I don’t know when or if I will ever truly understand the context of what it is that I accomplished. Maybe it’s modesty, and I do realize it is a true accomplishment, but the context of this victory comes from a much different place. Obviously you have to train for a marathon, but this marathon was not just a test of my mental grit, but it is determining a piece of transcendance that I have created for my life. Although this has been a tough year for me, I was still able to run this marathon, and above all else, I need to remember this in relation to where I was two years ago; someone who was obese and didn’t care about their health, someone who had never run a day in their life, someone who was taking life for granted and not seeing the opportunities of health that were afforded to them. Things have still been a struggle as of late, but if I can run a marathon when the fog is thick, when things feel clear and clean, I know it is going to be great. Regardless of that, I made a goal and I followed through with it, and for that, I am proud of myself.