“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.”
I know this post is late…my last few weeks have been a whirlwind as I finished up my training and actually ran the Chicago marathon. This last week ends with my final long run – 26.2.
This final week the training is taken down a bit, with the speed workout at the beginning of the week and easy runs and cross-training for the remainder so that you are well rested for the big day. Because I had a lot of things to do before my trip to Chicago, my 5 mile workout of 9:30 pace mile repeats were done in pitch black Monday morning. I was nervous about my footing in the dark, but I knew I had to get it done before work. The speed felt good on that cool morning and my legs felt ready for the challenges ahead. This marathon was going to happen and I had finally accepted it. As I slowed down for my cool-down, I think it all finally hit me.
My 4-mile easy last run on Wednesday brought up some emotion as I thought about what was to come. It was about 6:15 AM when I made my way out. I noticed some tightness in my ankles and Achilles. My mind started to wander as my body took over, knowing exactly what to do without needing to think about it. I began to think about the marathon and how amazing it will be to run through the neighborhoods of Chicago. I thought about the challenges of training. Then my mind wandered into challenges I’ve faced in my life. I began to think about people who had hurt me in the past, one in particular who had promised to grow old with me but then discarded me on a whim. I don’t usually think of this person but sometimes my mind tries to resolve things when I am running. I thought about what I had been doing with my life since and realized that no matter where that person was, I would never trade lives with him in a million years. The things I have experienced in the last few years of my life – opportunities to travel to many countries, new friends that I have made, and now being able to run an actual marathon in an amazing city – I felt truly blessed.
The night before I left for Chicago I had one more hot yoga session. I hoped the heat from the room would prepare me for what was supposed to be a pretty hot day for a marathon. I needed to feel centered and balanced and I needed to leave my fears and anxieties back at home before I boarded that plane.
It seemed to take forever to get to Chicago – even though I left Friday morning, it was late afternoon by the time I got to the apartment I was staying in. All I wanted to do was get to the Expo, but it seemed everyone I knew had already been there. I felt so tired and rushed, it was hard to enjoy myself, but I did manage to get some cool marathon gear and take some pictures. By the end I was famished, tired and cranky and extremely glad I didn’t have to run the following day. The extra buffer day was key and if I ever travel for a marathon again, I will make sure to include one. This gave me Saturday to have a more relaxing day and make sure I ate properly for the race. I also got to take in a little bit of Chicago. The anticipation of the following day was almost too much to take.
I am going to write a separate post about my thoughts and feelings about the actual marathon, but I will mention now that I accomplished what I set out to do – complete my first marathon. The day itself was challenging for everyone I knew running that race, and I myself did not get my first time goal, or my second for that matter. I did come away with an amazing experience that I did truly enjoy and the notion that I may do another marathon in the future. I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. It’s almost some strange addiction taking over me – wondering what I should do next. What running goal should I set for the upcoming winter…the spring…the following year? Do I want to spend another summer training or should I take a break? I can’t quite make a solid decision at the moment.
I’ve heard that only 1% of the population has completed a marathon. Looking at how many people were on that course in Chicago it was hard to believe that, but I think it may be true. I am now in that small percentage and that is something that no one can take away.