And that’s the burning question… I ventured into this awesome “sport” of running about 9 years ago. It was a tentative start and not really out of a need for fitness – in the beginning any way. I mostly needed a stress reliever for a very stressful life event taking place at that time in my life and one day I just ran around the block. And I kinda liked it- so I kept running, no more than about a mile or so here and there.
Fast forward a bit, post cross-country moveS… It probably took a good 2 years after I started running before I even knew about these 5k races and I just decided I’d give it a try one December morning back in 2006. I was all alone running that first race- no one that I knew was at the finish line to congratulate me. I just got a simple, yet appreciative, text message from my best friend asking me how I did. Her next text: “Will you do it again?” My reply: “Maybe. I guess so”.
But before I go any further… I always have to give credit to a very good friend of mine, Stacey, for inspiring me to even become a runner. I remember seeing post-race pictures of her lying in the grass with that, “OMG, I just finished!!!” exhausted look on her face- always with a smile! I will say I blame her and it’s all her fault I started running and every time I go for a run I think of her in gratitude… Runs2Smile!
In the fall of 2007 Stacey asked me to meet her in Nashville for the ‘08 Country Music Marathon & ½ Marathon suggesting that I should run the ½- she was signed up for the full. I wasn’t totally convinced in my own head that I could do it: “Me, run 13.1 miles? But I’m not even a runner!” Somehow she kept saying the right things to get me to sign up… but I didn’t register for the ½. Instead after I read an article about how Katie Holmes was going to run the NYC Marathon that fall I said to myself, “Oh heck, if Katie Holmes can do this so can I!” So as strange at that sounds, that was my kick in the butt motivation to sign up and commit to training and running a full marathon! I had no idea what I had just done…
But… I didn’t tell anyone I signed up for the full. I told everyone I signed up for the 1/2 instead. Somehow I thought it would be fun to “surprise” everyone and I kept it a secret. THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT THING TO KEEP SECRET. PERIOD. Runners love to talk about running. Imagine not telling ANYONE except a perfect stranger walking by at the end of your run on a public sidewalk that you just ran 17 miles for the first time in your life! Imagine sitting at the bar on a Friday night with your girlfriends talking about your race next month and how excited they are for you to run 13.1 miles- but you’re not. You’re actually running 26.2 and the only person you can tell and express your excitement to is the strange guy you’ve never met before whose hitting on one of your friends when they step away to to to the bathroom. Answering the question, “So, how many miles did you run today?” was like dodging bullets. “A lot” seemed to be a common answer. I actually fessed up one time and answered truthfully with, “Oh, just 16 miles.” And then I had to explain that by running more than 13.1 miles it would somehow hopefully make me run a faster ½ marathon. I guess that worked. Even more excruciating was running my first ½ marathon ALONE and no one was the wiser. So now I was keeping two secrets- I just ran my first ½ marathon and I’m going to run a full.
We arrived in Nashville the day before the race of course to hit the expo and pick up our race packets. I don’t know if I was more excited to run the marathon or to finally be able to tell a friend/someone I knew that I was running 26.2 miles the next day! As we approached the area to pick up our packets and go to the right or to the left depending on the distance, I pulled Stacey aside (I had a friend standing by to take our picture) and said to her, “I can’t run the ½ marathon tomorrow”. She gave me a bewildered look and said, “Why not!?” I’m sure she was thinking I was hurt- I was truthfully, the left knee wasn’t good and she knew that. I responded with, “ Well, because I’m going to run the FULL!!!!!”.
There. Finally. It was out! Now my secret was a secret no more!!!! Our close of group of friends at the race that weekend now knew I was running the full, not the ½ marathon! Five months of keeping this a secret was finally over!
But as soon as I told them I swore them all to absolute secrecy… I didn’t plan on telling anyone back home for another two weeks. I wanted to make the announcement at an upcoming party when I knew all of my family and friends would be there together.
And the next morning, after freaking out while we were stuck in Nashville traffic for over an hour in the pouring rain and almost missing the start of the race and then running into the starting line corral without even a calf or quad stretch, we ran… 26.2 glorious miles!
Ok, they weren’t ALL glorious. It’s a marathon. They can’t ALL be glorious, who am I kidding. But actually the first 7-8 miles WERE glorious and I couldn’t stop smiling!
After mile 7 or 8 my knee started to bother me. I had hurt my left knee about two weeks prior to the race and I really did a sharp tapper in my training because of that hoping (praying!) it would help. But I was still going to run this thing. I put in WAY TOO much work, sweat and time to not try and finish this marathon. I definitely started to slow down around mile 10 and I pulled over to fix my blister band-aids and give my knee a break. By then Stacey, who started several corrals in front of me that morning, was already looping around on that out-and-back stretch of the course. I managed to catch her attention as she ran by and I pointed to my knee so that she knew I was slowing down. It was going to be a long day. At mile 17 I had that talk in my head as the route on the full marathon course made a pass by the finish line of whether or not I should just call it quits. But I decided to keep on going. I dare say I was barely even running at this point. Somewhere around mile 23 in middle of a park that was way too quiet my picture was snapped… I muscled out a smile and later I noticed that my feet were barely off the ground. I basically shuffled for the last few miles until the very end of the race. I even walked with a few elderly men who clearly had my time beat by a long shot… buts that okay. I was going to FINISH.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy in all of my life as a runner than that day I saw the finish line at the end of my first marathon. That damn knee really hurt, but I stopped my shuffle and picked up the pace. I was really ready to be done running and finish! So with my ponytail flying in the air I ran faster around the last corner with a big SMILE…
It took a lot longer than I ever thought it would to finish that marathon. My chip time was just around 5 hrs and 45 min. But I did it. And for some reason that’s all that mattered that day. I told everyone I was only going to run one marathon and this was it. And that’s what I told everyone two weeks later at that party when I announced not only did I run a ½ marathon, but I also ran a FULL marathon! And, it was worth the wait to tell them!
(*note the ice bag on my knee post-race)
But then I ran another marathon 10 months later… Clearly my knees were not in good shape for the first one so I had to do better and run a second. I wanted a better time. This time I was going to be very careful and not get hurt. So I signed up for the Gasparilla Full marathon in Tampa. And this time all of my family and friends will be at the finish line!
So, another wet and very rainy marathon I did run. There was absolutely no one running with me at miles 16-17. All I had was the hard, cold, face-pelting rain to keep me company. And do not let the finish line photos with the sun beaming down fool you… the sun managed to show itself for the last four miles of my race that day. Five minutes after I crossed the finish line the skies opened up again. I was completely soaked from head to toe, shoes and socks when I crossed that finish line.
And not to mention, braces on BOTH knees this time!!! Yes, I was hurt again. But my time did improve and I finished just under 5 hrs and 25 min. Most importantly, all of my family and friends waited out the rain in a near-by grocery store to be there and cheer me on at the finish line!
Since then I’ve been asked over and over again over the past 3-4 years, “Will you run another marathon?” My absolute answer has always been, “NO way!” And here are my reasons against it:
- A month after my first marathon I woke up in the middle of the night with the most terrible, knife-stabbing pain I’ve ever felt in the arch of my foot… plantar fasciitis – this was the “debilitating, get me a cortisone shot” kind of injury and it kept me from running for months!
- I landed myself in PT after my second marathon to help with the nagging knee and ITB issues
- Training for a full marathon is a “life sucker”, meaning YOU HAVE NO LIFE what-so-ever
There are probably more reasons why I wouldn’t run another marathon, but these four usually suffice in convincing myself that there’s not a chance I’d put myself through that again. Not to mention that during my last marathon I told myself, “Self, you will never, ever have to run more than 16 miles agin in your life!”. Thinking that I might actually run more than 13.1 miles while training for a ½ marathon… ha, nope. Not ever.
And now the dilemma … To run another full? Or… NOT? I haven’t quite figured out my reason for doing this other than to train for an Ultra running weekend next February, but I’ve already signed up for at least 4 half marathons this coming fall/winter, including two in one weekend. Now, some would say, “That’s crazy nuts! Why are you doing that?”, but I call it training. If I’m going to run 4 races (15, 5k on a Sat followed by a ½, 8k on Sun) in one weekend in February then I probably should get used to running multiple races in one weekend, right? Somehow I tell myself this makes sense and I’m not that crazy.
AND I badly want to run the Spacecoast ½ Marathon this fall. BUT I missed the registration for the ½ since this race filled up so fast … BUT the FULL is still open for registration… So, do I tempt my desire and sign up for the full with intentions to actually train for a full hoping for no injuries (pre and post marathon) and somehow try to fit a full marathon training schedule in my already “Do you ever sleep?” life?
So that leads me to the reasons WHY I should sign up for another marathon…
- I’m going to have plenty of time to train for a marathon on Dec 1st
- I’m already signed up for and have training races on my calendar that fit a marathon training schedule
- It’s in my hometown (or near as can be…). My family and friends will be there to support me and some will be running the race too!
- I just saw Spirit of the Marathon II in the theatre – if you’ve seen I or II you can appreciate how motivating and inspirational these movies are!
- I Run2Smile
- Because I can. I am alive. I am breathing. I am a runner. And there are others who cannot.
Have I just talked myself into this- running another marathon? If I have, it certainly won’t be a secret!