Thursday, June 16, 2011

Marathon Thoughts

90% of me wants to run a marathon.

10% of me wants to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday mornings, relax on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, to forget the stretching and the warms ups, the strength training and the cool downs.

I ran a half marathon as part of a relay team with my brother, way back in 2004, as a sophomore in college. I was young enough and confident enough to just do it. I didn't really train for it. I had run 10 miles around a lake on summer vacation and 10.5 miles on Thanksgiving morning without any training. So I figured, what's another 3? My training runs were on trails, up hills, no miles, just time. I went on one long run, 7.5 miles, on country roads around my college. Was I worried about not training? Uh, nope! In fact, my dad, some of his running buddies, and my brother's girlfriend were all running the full. It felt like Andrew and I were just wimping out with the half marathon.

So I did it. I came home on October Break, packed a bag, and hopped in the family van for a trip to Columbus. I picked up my goodie bag with my way too huge tee shirt, ate carbs, and tried to get a good night of sleep. I got up, ate what Shelley ate, jogged to the starting line, and tried to stick with her 8 minute mile pace. And I did, for about the first 5 miles. After that, I lost her and just kept running along. Racing normally makes me nervous, but I didn't have any expectations for myself. I was just doing it to do it!

I'm not exactly sure what my time was. If I remember correctly, there was some disparity between what my watch said and what the split was recorded as. I think the posted time was 1:52. I attributed that to the fact that I had to untie the chip from my shoe with stiff, cold fingers in order to transfer it to Andrew's shoe. Then I kept jogging until I found my mom. When I found her, the first words out of my mouth were "Thank God I'm done." If you know me, you know I don't take the Lord's name in vain, but it just popped out. Truly, I was thankful that this run was done, but I was so embarrassed that I said that! I was exhausted, freezing in my shorts and long-sleeved shirt, and I wanted nothing but to sit in a blanket and sip hot chocolate. I think I was even crying a little bit. My mom congratulated me and gave me my warm clothes and probably even got my hot chocolate as I hobbled around on stiff legs. We watched the rest of the racers come in, my dad and Shelley both qualifying for Boston.

If only I had known that running 13.1 miles was really an accomplishment. With other people in my life who had run so many complete marathons, I felt like my half was hardly noticed. (Typical middle child for you, huh?) And, without really training hard for it, I guess I felt like it didn't deserve to be noticed.

And, if only I had known that my overall pace of 8:30 minutes/mile was really quite decent. I look back at my 19 year old self who ran 8:30 minute miles without thinking much of it and wish that I could get some of that speed back. In my memory, it was effortless, although I'm sure something about running up and down the Houghton hills had just a bit to do with it. Now, a few years wiser, I realize that 13.1 miles is crazy for some people even to contemplate. It can be a huge accomplishment. My husband recently ran a half, as did two sisters-in-law (one on each side), and I think of how proud I was of them!

So I'm talking myself into running a marathon. No, I don't think it will be a fast marathon. I'd need to do a lot of speed work for that. No, I don't think it will compare to my dad if he does the same marathon, or my sister-in-law who is gearing back up into marathon shape after the birth of their first baby. No, it wouldn't compare to Dan, who is also considering running the same marathon. But it would be my first marathon. It'd be my declaration that I can achieve my goals, that I can be that woman who follows through with a training plan, that I can run 26.2 miles.

I'm just about there. The visit to this website to sign the next 4 months of my life away.

But I really just want to know: what does the tee shirt look like?


Dan and Hilary said...

I found the shirt babe. Do it.

Joy said...

Whooo-hoooo! Do it! I'm so glad I did one when I had the chance and would have loved to do more if my foot hadn't gotten injured. And it's way harder once you start having kids!!! you'll do great!