Becoming a Marathoner

“Motivation remains key to the marathon: the motivation to begin; the motivation to continue; the motivation never to quit.” Hal Higdon


In my short running career, I never really dreamed of running a marathon.  I only ever wished I was capable of running that far.  So, if you asked me 5 months ago why I signed up for a marathon, my answer probably would’ve been, “Why not?” When I get an idea on impulse, I tend to jump on it, without thinking. I’ve always been a dreamer, a doer, a go getter.  I have a “cant stop, wont stop” attitude about life.  I always want more, and to push the boundaries of life.  SO RASH THINKING IS A NORM for me.  🙂

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On November 22, 2015 I ran the Philadelphia Marathon.  It tested every part of my body and mind.  It taught me that dreams are meant to be fulfilled, not wasted.  I learned to compete less, and encourage more.  I made an immense amount of new connections and relationships with people.  I got in the best shape of my life.  I learned to enjoy the silence.  I was shown real, genuine people still exist. And when you put your mind to it, ANYTHING is P O S S I B L E!

Let’s take it back to the pre-race shenanigans and make this a true race recap.

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The trip to Philly was intense.  I would go from wanting to throw up, to feeling content and indifferent, to being completely and utterly excited.  The EXPO was craziness.  People everywhere.  Anything a runner could ever want was right at your fingertips.  We got to try samples of drinks and fuel, and were given some pretty awesome swag bags.  We stopped at Panera and got us some lunch, before we made our way to the hotel.  Since we weren’t really supposed to be on our feet, we played card games and made more dubsmash videos then I care to admit. But it was nice to laugh and keep our minds distracted from what was to come early in the morning.


 

When it was time to get ready though, panic was setting in.  We questioned our outfits, our training, our phantom pains, and all the “what ifs” that could possibly happen, as we pursued 26.2 miles through the streets of Philly. There was nothing more we could do but get dressed, and run the race that was set before us.

We hopped in a cab and headed for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  We got there super early, as we were terrified of being late, and not making it through security in time.  Two hours early with non ideal weather, made for some shivering bodies and chattering teeth.  The wind was not pleasant.  Hand warmers, and our throw away sweats in tow, we sat around and panicked some more.  Then we were called to our corrals, and all those emotions we experienced along the journey, and the night leading up to the big day, came crashing around me like  a tidal wave.  I couldn’t believe I was doing this.  I was ACTUALLY DOING THIS!

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The starting line seemed like miles away, as we inched our way closer.  But before you knew it, you were high fiving the mayor, and being cheered on by complete strangers.  The crowd support was beyond amazing.  For the first 13.1 miles, I was distracted by the sights around me, and the million posters filled with humor and sincere wishes.  People screaming your name and high fiving you along the way.

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We were taken on an awesome tour of downtown Philadelphia.  We went from Drexel University and South Street, to the Philadelphia Zoo and back along the River.  I felt so strong through the first half.  I enjoyed myself and the sights to be had.

The course was not “flat” per se, as described.  There was one decently sized hill, and more than a few bigger than rolling hills.  The first half was also shared with the half marathoners, so the streets were a tad crowded, and you had to be quick on your feet, as people swerved in and out of each other, and would randomly come to a complete stop in front of you.  BUT the more I run big races, the more I am becoming accustomed to that’s how it will always be.  You just have to take it one step at a time, and adjust as you go.


 

Enter the second half.  The true test of my state of mind.  The real grittiness of becoming a marathoner.  This is when taking it one step at a time really becomes EVERYTHING YOU HAVE!  The second half took you out and back along the Schuylkill River.  It was the hardest out and back I’ve ever done.  I was starting to lose my love for the run.  I was becoming defeated with every step I took.  My foot pain made it known that it was present around mile 17.  That was when I had to walk.  I didn’t want to because, one my quads were shot since mile 10, and I knew if I stopped they would lock up, and my chances of finishing would become smaller and smaller, and two, I was so focused on getting the 4:10 pace.  BUT the foot pain was calling, and I had to give in.  I stopped by a tree and stretched out for a good couple of minutes.  The tears came, and I was feeling so down on myself.  I stumbled to start again, and cringed in pain. I was looking for that something to hold on to, to keep me going.  Then my hubby texted me that I had passed the 30K mark, and to keep going.  He said I was kicking ass, even though I felt like an ass. I was having a conversation with myself all the way to about mile 20. I didn’t care about getting a certain time anymore.  I just wanted to finish. That is when I met Mike.

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He too was struggling.  He was cramping up and almost crumbling to the ground.  When I had to stop again, he did too.  So we started talking, and he was just what I needed to make it to the end.  For the next 6 miles, when I needed to stop, we stopped.  When he needed to stop, we stopped.  I’m not quite sure how my legs made it to the end, but my mind only made it because of him.  I wanted to stop at mile 25.5, one last time, and he said absolutely not.  He stayed beside me until the very end, and made sure I did not give up.  For that, I am forever grateful.  God places people in your life at the right time, for the right reason.

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And this, my friends, is the look of someone who just completed her F I R S T  marathon!!!  🙂 🙂 🙂  It was not pretty.  It was not ideal.  It did not go as I planned, but then again, neither did my training.  I never would’ve imagined I would have been hurt and resting three weeks before marathon day.  I never would have expected to get an upper respiratory infection four days before.  I struggled. I cried. I laughed. And I learned. Through it all, I am so happy I did it.

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I want to say thank you to the awesome lady who gave me my medal.  She hugged me and let me cry into her shoulder for as long as I needed.  I want to thank Mike again, for guiding me to the finish line and taking my finish line photo.  I want to thank the thousands of hands I high-fived, and for the cheers that were shouted at me directly.  I want to thank the volunteers for standing in the cold and wind, without a sunray to be had.  I want to thank my friends and family for listening to me talk about running 24/7.  I want to thank my BFF Heather for joining me on this crazy journey and helping me with my foot.  I am so proud of you!  A huge thanks to Melissa, for being a friend I can always count on, and for cheering me on, and holding my stuff, while lending me a hand as I wobbled to find a place to sit.  Thank you to my husband for being understanding for the last five months, and accepting my MIA ways due to training. I want to thank the running community, who never ceases to amaze me with their encouraging words, support, and inspiration.

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My life has forever changed and not just because I became a marathoner, but because I learned what it means to chase your dreams.  I found myself along the way.  I became confident in who I was and what I am capable of.  It’s okay to let yourself down.  It’s okay to feel defeated.  It’s okay to have a bad run.  It’s not okay to give up.  DON’T YOU EVER GIVE UP!

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“Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best.” Meb Keflezighi, U.S. Olympic Marathoner

 

 

imagesTanya

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4 thoughts on “Becoming a Marathoner

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  1. Hey! Nice recap. And you know what? I’ve run quite a few marathons, and they NEVER go as planned. Not one yet. What you experienced is what we all experience, whether it’s our first or 15th marathon. The distance is so long that 99% of the issues you can have in a marathon won’t show up in a half-marathon or shorter race like a 5k/10k. Weather issues like wind/rain, or cramps, blisters, glycogen shortages, they all start screaming at you during those later miles. That is what makes marathoning special. Even the top elite marathons in the world say that each time they toe the line of a marathon, they have no idea what to expect for that race and say it’s always a fight to just finish it. And lol, during nearly every marathon we all fall out of love with running sometime during the 2nd half of the race… but there are very few things in life that feel as good as crossing the finish line of a marathon. I always always get goosebumps, whether I PR or crash and burn and miss all my time goals. It’s always special to finish 26.2 miles! Welcome to the club, you are now, and forever, a marathoner! -Jim (jhdahlem on IG)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awwww, thanks Jim! You are always so supportive and have the right words to say, at the right time. Your continuous encouragement means so much to me. I love to follow you and your family. You guys will always be a huge inspiration to me. I appreciate your wisdom and reassurance that I am not alone in my feelings during the marathon run. I still do love running. It’s what brings my life so much adventure. 🙂

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  2. Is it crazy that I cried reading this? literally cried when you said you cried, I’m so thrilled you were able to finish and have support. I run with my hubby who is my pace car and we are aiming for our first full in May ’16. I’m terrified and excited all the same time. Congrats on becoming a 1% (population of who does a full marathon) I do plan on joining you in this category even if I have to crawl at the end. Amazing job and be forever proud of yourself! Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jodie! Oh my goodness! Thank you for being so open and honest, and connecting with my emotions on such a big day in my life. You are going to do great in your first marathon. Just run it for fun, for you, and to finish. Go in with no expectations, other than to run the best race you possibly can. I am so excited for you! Do we follow each other on instagram, because I would love to watch your journey!? 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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