I was never really all that crazy about running. While I have always been into exercise for most of my adult life, I very rarely chose running as my cardio of choice. Then, about four years ago I signed up for a race with a friend of mine. It was the Military Challenge, which was an obstacle mud run down in VA Beach. I was honestly scared like a bunny the night before this race – mostly because I was 100% sure I was going to be the very last person to cross the finish line. Or maybe the second to last, as I was fairly certain that I could run faster then my friend.
Race day came and on finishing (not dead last..not even close) and receiving my medal, I was giddy and exhilarated. I could not wait to do that again! Running kind of sucks, but races are FUN. Not only did I get to see how fast I went and know how I placed, but then I get something shiny and pretty afterwards! It was all good things for me. Sadly, I misplaced that first medal I ever got. I can’t find it to this day.
From there, a medal junkie was born. But eventually, I wanted to see if I could go farther and faster. I went from mud races to a 5 and then 10K, and then the Army Ten Miler in 2013. Then I decided to go for it and sign up for DC Rock and Roll Half Marathon in 2014. I really had no interest in running any further than two hours and change. I figured, this would be my milestone race. I didn’t need to prove to myself that I could do a full one. My actual pace was 9:34 (2:05:27) for that race – not too shabby for the first half marathon of a novice runner.
I did a few more half marathons and then on an impulse decided to enter the Marine Corp Marathon lottery in 2015. I figured, if I was supposed to run a full marathon, the universe (or the Marine Corp) would make that decision for me. I still didn’t really have much of an interest, but I wasn’t feeling the same thrill of accomplishment when I finished a half marathon anymore and I didn’t really have the motivation or knowledge to train to PR.
Well, apparently I was supposed to run a marathon because I got in. I was both thrilled and horrified at the same time. I honestly, 100% believed that I would only do it the one time. Because I don’t like running and I’m not a runner. Right? I joined a running group for training this time, because if I was going to run 20 miles to train in the heat of summer, I needed people to suffer with. Plus, I really had no idea what I was doing and what it took to train for a marathon.
Training with a running group really changed things for me in terms of how I felt about running. I actually started to like the running part a little more. Well, maybe not the running, but training with people actually started to make the long distance runs a little more fun. It also really helped at mile 16 on a training run, when I would decide that I hated running, I hated everyone, and hated everyone who runs to have someone there to talk me down, keep me from ripping off my Hoka’s and chucking them into the street and just help me keep going.
I had three goals for my first marathon. One of my running friends told me to set a few “levels” of goals – because with running, sometimes race day is not going to be a A-game day. Rather than train for 18 weeks and then just not make the best case goal, at least I’d have three specific milestones to shoot for. They were
- Finish in under 5 hours
- Finish in under 4:29 – I did kind of want to beat Oprah’s time
Well, I made two out of three. I finished in 4:55:16
When I was done with the marathon, I was sure that was it for me and running. Actually, when the picture above was taken, I was thinking “there is no FRIGGIN’ way I am ever doing this again!” Except I didn’t use the term “friggin.” Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased as punch when I got that medal, but I definitely didn’t have an “A-game” race day. And I knew I could do better.
And it’s because of that, that I’m doing it again. I just need to do it better this time. Of course, not only do I need to run it faster but I upped the ante and signed up for two marathons this season. I figure, if I’m going to do this marathon nonsense again, I might as well do two. Plus, I got into both New York and Chicago, so the universe was clearly trying to tell me something.
I love races – both for the medals and that giddy sense of accomplishment you get when you cross the finish line. I love checking my time and seeing how I did – both comparing against my previous times and how I did overall. I’m still pretty sure I don’t love running, but races are why I keep doing it.