Monday, January 18, 2010
Marathon Rookie: A Beginner's Story
So, the idea of posting my thoughts about this experience has been on my mind quite a bit in the last few months. At many a pivotal point in my life I've sat down to write my "bucket list" as they are called these days. I recall writing one in high school, college, after my mission, and even one after I got married. Who knows where all of those are placed today. They're probably stuffed in a random box in the garage, or long since gone to a landfill or recycling site of some sort. I've made my fair share of unfulfilled goals, many of which I simply cannot remember. One had stuck in my mind for years......the MARATHON..... Who in their right mind says they are going to tackle such a physical feat?? CRAZY PEOPLE!! That's who. Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20, and I realize this is something I could have tackled YEARS AGO, especially when I was single, in college, and HAD TIME TO SPARE!! Alas, my social duties called, and that was my priority. Silly girl.....
Last May I was sitting on the COUCH watching my favorite show, "The Biggest Loser," and saw the final contestants complete a marathon. As I sat there, eating a snack no less, I said to myself, "Self, I can do this!" So, the next day I joined the Arizona Road Racers and signed up for my first 5k in over 10 years. It was time to get my bootie running again. I consulted with my marathon hero, my cousin Sam, and received some wise council on how to start. I laced up my shoes and hit the road. Those first few miles were brutal. What had I done to myself? How did I get so out of shape??!! What on earth am I doing out here?! Those contestants on The Biggest Loser work out for HOURS on end each day....they lift weights.....I'm just a nobody who got off the couch and said I was capable..... I had much work to do. Unfortunately, I had no Mr. Miyagi to train me. I just had a desire. To make matters worse, I had posted said goal ALL OVER FACEBOOK so now I was committed! There was no turning back!
I consider myself fortunate to have met a great gal at our daughter's dance studio. Her name was Becky, and she too had just made the same goal. She was in FAR BETTER shape than I was - and still is for that matter - She took me under her wings and encouraged me to show up at the gym day after day......we ran all summer and built up our mileage. As the months passed by, I had the guts to run in several races, including a half marathon in 100 degree weather....a feat I will never do again..... Alas, the running got easier and the time slipped by. Brandon was a huge support as dinner was constantly prepared late, I was gone many a Saturday morning in the wee small hours to run for HOURS ON END, and lots of whining over sore muscles and black toenails! He caught the bug himself and hit the lakes and pools around here to start working towards a triathlon. He even competed in a 2000 meter open water swim. His birthday present was a schnazzy road bike, that he plans to put many a mile on this year.
January came, and the BIG DAY came..... I was so nervous I wasn't thinking straight. What a cool experience is was to be there with THOUSANDS of people! Even John McCain himself was standing atop a platform waving at us crazy people starting a race through the boring city streets of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. The race began, and I took off. At first I was filled with emotion as I looked around and saw the amazing amount of NORMAL people out there running right beside me. You don't have to be an elite athlete to do this. It just takes staying power. The miles began to tick by, and I was doing great. I hit mile 20 and HIT THE WALL. We've all heard of it....that place where you feel like your body needs to stop, and it's up to your MIND to keep going. All those weight training sessions that I skipped came back to haunt me. In all my months of running, I got cocky and thought that if I just focused on the long distance running part, who gave a hoot about strength training. So, let's make that Lesson #1 learned: LIFT WEIGHTS!!! I had followed a training guide for beginners, mainly focused on completion of the race, which I was totally fine with. What I hadn't anticipated was the desire that crept inside of me on race morning to just run the hardest I could, for the longest amount of time! DUH!! I think they call that lack of pacing..... So, Lesson #2: If you want to run LONG and HARD, then one must TRAIN long and hard!! This next go around, you bet you'll see me lifting those weights and doing my core workouts like I was SUPPOSED to do the first time. Isn't that what we tell our children? "Can't you just do it right the first time?!" If only we all listened......
Alas, sore muscles and all, I made it to the finish in 5 hours and 32 minutes. Not exactly Olympic timing, but MY timing. That is what mattered, that I had MADE it there! I was balling as I crossed that finish line. All I could think about was the fact that I had done it. I had set a goal and I had achieved it. Sure, I made a truckload of mistakes along the way, but when one stumbles, one picks themselves up and tries again. So, here I go again.....this time I have my sights set on the Tucson marathon in December, and who knows what else. All I know is that I'm not stopping. The running bug has caught me and is here to stay.