I’m training for a marathon.
Even as I type those five words, it causes me to pause and stare. A marathon!??!?? I’m not speaking of a day parked in front of a television catching up on a television series waiting in my DVR. I’m not speaking of hanging with some gal pals and watching a bunch of favorite ‘chic flicks’ (although that would be fun).
No, the marathon I am speaking of is indicative of my evolution in this newfound hobby of running. I have voluntarily paid a substantial amount of money to a very profitable and well known company, so that I may RUN 26.2 miles.
In keeping with who I am, it can’t just be any old course at any random location. No, my first marathon (yes, that’s 26.2 miles) must have ‘meaning.’ Okay, even I see the ridiculousness of that sentence. As if completing a 26.2 mile goal regardless of venue does not already have meaning. But … I digress.
My first marathon will be run this October through the streets of San Francisco as I take on the challenge of the Nike Women’s Marathon 2013. Truthfully, it’s just plain crazy … but an exciting crazy all the same.
Oddly, while it would seem to be among the craziest things I’ve ever done … it’s not. I actually gave this some thought the other morning during a ‘training run.’ Yes, I now have ‘training’ runs, with a race date now firm on the calendar every run/workout must serve purpose.
So, as I was out enjoying the early morning elements of my run I realized that the truly ‘crazy’ part of this journey was when I promised to complete a race with a friend’s daughter, as I tipped the scales at 235 pounds. Don’t misunderstand ... plenty of people weighing this amount or more are physically active. That is where (for me) the true crazy comes in ... I was not. I hated running. It made me tired. It made me feel unhealthy (which I was). It made me self-conscious and completely uncomfortable. So much so that when I began ‘trying’ to run, I only did it in the wee hours of the morning. Whether it be at the gym or outside, I laced up and ran at 4:30 or 5 a.m. This time frame returned me safe to my home by 6 a.m. and typically no one was the wiser. In other words no one saw me.
The second piece of that ‘crazy’ is that somewhere along the line I began to like it. I learned as I went. I also learned much about myself and ‘true’ runners. This is interesting. ‘True’ runners are supportive of any and everyone who decides to take up the sport regardless of level.
I take walk breaks, so when I began running I thought this meant I was not a ‘real’ runner. I was wrong. Running just like any other sport has many levels and variety of styles, which ultimately yield the same result. Example: when I began running I held an 11:29 mile pace. My current ‘training’ pace is a 9:29 mile pace on a good morning. Typically I’m always sub 10 (below 10 minutes) and on mornings when I’m really excited I drop into the eight minute area. All of these paces include ‘walk’ breaks. It’s taken two years to openly embrace that I do not keep a steady right/left, right/left run pattern. But I plan to keep running for a long time and am committed to preserving my body; walk breaks help me with that.
So now here I am staring down the daunting 26.2. It’s pretty wild, yet oddly extremely exciting.
During this journey I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by many seasoned runners and marathoners. Each and every one of them at the ready to help me along and some even plan to be at the Finish Line. I’ve been warned of the dreaded Mile 20, which as a half marathoner I can now liken to mile 9. This is where you learn what you are made of mentally.
That’s the thing about running, it takes just as much mental strength as physical strength.
When I first set this goal I shared it with a running friend. He is not a marathoner, so I fully expected him to talk me out of it. Instead I got the opposite. As he encouraged me to ‘go for it,’ he shared distance becomes a mental game. If there’s one thing I know about you, he stated, you can conquer the mental game.
Can I? Honestly I have no clue, but 14 weeks of training will certainly give me a glimpse. My training plan (passed to me by a seasoned Marathoner and good friend) adorns my refrigerator door. It holds mile numbers like 17, 22 and yes … even 26.
At present day I have yet to run more than 13.4 miles. A Half Marathon is 13.1 and typically speaking it takes .3 miles to get through the post Finish Line maze. Training will hold a lot of firsts for this runner, but that’s the exciting part.
San Francisco is my hometown and until the day I die those streets will be home to my heart. So, if there is a course which will potentially get the best of me I am both happy and thrilled for this to be the one.
As I look ahead to October, I’ve already begun to visualize miles 20 to 26. Who will I ask to be at 22, 24, the Finish Line?
Another first for me, inviting friends and family to come to a race. I don’t typically make it a family or friend affair. This time however, even I can see … more importantly I can feel it’s different.
Statistics state that 5 percent of Americans and less than .5 percent of the world’s population has braved the commitment of stepping up to the start line of a 26.2 race.
It’s a ‘special’ club for sure and honestly … I just can’t wait to be a member.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.