I am a marathoner.
It's an easy thing to say, but not an easy road to get there. It's something I never thought I would do, or rather someone I would become. I didn't want to, after all, who would willingly put themselves through something that awful? Not me.
At least not a year ago. I attended a missionary homecoming for my friend Niccol and we went to her house after for a breakfast. My friend Kristin's husband, Kenny, was pretty picky about what he was eating and told us that he was going to be running a marathon the next week.
We talked to him more about his running and I was especially intrigued to find out that he has not always been a runner. I always thought you had to be a "runner" to run a marathon. He told me that he used to not even be able to run around the block.
I thought, "that's me". I had never run in high school, or for leisure, or exercise, and I even remember being embarrassed by how slow I was when we had races in Kindergarten - yes, I actually do remember that.
Well that very day I entertained the thought of running and said to myself, if he can do it then I can too. Not long after that a co-worker started a Couch-to-5K training. I thought that this would be a fun way to increment up towards a goal so I did it myself.
The holidays came and went and I had worked up to being able to run for about 10 minutes without stopping (1 mile). Tyler and I sat down in January to make our New Year's resolutions. I was timid about even mentioning my desire to run a marathon. I had warmed up to the idea and thought it would be something so neat to say I've accomplished but didn't know if it was doable.
Well, I made the goal and with Tyler's support I decided I could do it. I knew the Top of Utah Marathon was in September each year and being 9 months away it's plenty of time to train. It can't take more than that to be ready anyway, especially considering most marathon trainings are about 18 weeks.
Well the journey was long, and very time consuming. I set up a training schedule that would carry me from January all the way through September. I had training laid out for everyone of those days. Most weeks included 3 days of running in the beginning, then up to 4 with a day of cross training and of course some days of rest and strength training.
There were so many days that I didn't want to go running. I would dread it and even cry to Tyler sometimes and tell him that I didn't want to go, but ultimately I knew I made the goal and I wanted to keep it. I am extremely competitive and high expectations for myself so making this goal meant I had to keep it.
I stayed on track by printing my training schedule on a calendar and crossing off each day after I came home from my run. Tyler had also bought me a watch to track my miles and time. I was able to upload that for each run and that accountability helped me stay on track.
I came to a critical point in the middle of July. I slacked on my training a bit when life got busy with the July holidays. I had missed several weekly mid-length runs and several long Saturday runs. I was at the point that I had to chose to either commit or drop out. I had already shared my goal with so many people and I didn't want to look stupid or let myself down, so I committed.
I was more deliberate in my running after that. It became my first priority after that. I knew that even if my runs weren't the best that if I would go and do them and cross off every one of those days I could finish the marathon. I missed one day after that, only because of schedule conflicts and in the end counted it as a needed rest day before running the Top of Utah Half Marathon.
That was a huge step for me in the process. I have learned a lot along the way. What socks to wear, what works for me to listen to, just how long a mile is (it's amazing how distant-conscience I am now), what to drink, how often to drink, how to eat GU, what to eat the morning of, and after a run (can you tell food is crucial), race logistics, and man the list goes on and on.
Most of all I learned a lot about the good nature of runners. Runners are good people. Plain and simple, they just are. Runners are so supportive of each other. They are willing to offer you help and advice, they will support you and offer to run with you, they'll even sacrifice their own chance at improving their race time to hold back and make sure that you're there with them at the end. They want you to succeed and smile along the way. I've learned that you can meet a complete stranger and share miles of deep conversation with them. You'll learn about their family and their goals and why they run. You can spend several miles running with them until different circumstances pull you apart and you continue on having been better for talking with them.
I feel like I've shared the experience of my marathon pretty well on my album and comments on Facebook. If you haven't gone through it please do. But as for the overall experience of running I wanted to share how amazing it is. In this year where I've gone from being a non-runner to a marathoner, it has changed me to become a better person. For so many reasons in so many different ways. Running alone has set my priorities straight, has made me look at people in a better light, made me more patient and tolerant, taught me that I Can Do Hard Things, and that I am in control of my life and my happiness.
If you would have asked me 13 months ago if I was ever going to run a single marathon I would tell you firmly, no! If you would have asked me even 4 days ago if I was ever going to run another one I would still have told you no. But now I know why people do it. It makes you better and it makes you stronger and it makes you you. I challenge you to run shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people who have made the goal to complete a marathon, those thousands of people who have decided to become better, and not become better yourself.
You'll find the amazing charity in people who cheer you on from the sidelines and run next to you and tell you can do it, even when you doubt yourself. And you will find yourself in those mindless miles of training when all you have are your thoughts. You will think a little deeper when you listen to the same podcast again for the 4th time that week. And you will realize you have strength beyond what you knew when you push past the pain and finish, just so you can say you did it.
I did it!