With each passing day that distances me from my third marathon, I realize more and more how huge those accomplishments are and am beyond proud of what I’ve done. Since I’m not currently training for any races, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experiences as a distance runner and all it has meant for me. I’ve also been enjoying the break that comes with not having a schedule to adhere to.
What’s ironic is that it’s not my two injury-free races run in great times that stand out the most (although they certainly put a huge smile on my face). 🙂 It was my first marathon, the longest race of my life filled with multiple challenges thrown in my direction: a combined five hours of sleep over the final two pre-race days, noisy hotel neighbors, inadequate pre-race fuel, a rushed and stressful arrival to the starting line, and finally, a blown-out knee at mile 10.5 that lead to a physical pain making my top three “most painful experiences” list. Yet never once did the thought of walking off that course cross my mind…my strong, determined mind that has gotten me through so much in this life. That whole “marathons are as much about tenacity as they are skill” saying is so true. I vowed to finish if it meant crawling, but thankfully, it didn’t get to that. Everything that could have gone wrong did, but nothing took away from that day. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could.
They say after completing a marathon, you will never be the same person again. That you should do so for the right reasons, for you, and not because someone else did it. The truth is, when I began training for my first marathon last year, I quickly realized that “they” were right. There was no way I was going to survive and surpass this challenge unless it was for me. Sure I could race for a reason, or dedicate my race to a loved one or cause, but in the end, I would do this for me. I was alone in this, and no one could or would do it for me.
“I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.” – Mike Fanelli
This, along with many other quotes I’ve found over the past year, is one of my favorites. I agree wholeheartedly, as sometimes in those last miles of a race, when all physical and mental power are spent, your heart is all that’s left. It is then you find what you are truly made of.
On a more comical note, I love this commercial I found shortly after running my first marathon, and have laughed until overcome with tears over how “spot on” it is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-hCuYjvw2I
It’s true that you can do anything you set your mind to, and if you want it enough, you will find a way to make it happen. John Hanc said it best: “I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.”