Guys! I’m a marathoner!
Finishing a marathon was something that has been on my bucket list, but it always just felt kind of unattainable. Many of you followed along with my training the past year, and I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement and support. Sharing my journey to 26.2 on social media with the SIR family really helped to keep me motivated and hold me accountable. Training and running a marathon was one of the hardest, most challenging, most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
I started training in February of this year, 8 weeks after having my second son, and let me tell you, the road back to getting in shape after baby was NOT easy. I couldn’t even finish a mile when I first started getting back at it, so I started run/walking. That was hard for me. I’ve been a runner most of my life, and I’ve never not been able to run a full mile. This was mentally challenging for me, and I started to dip into small bouts of depression. I kept making myself show up though.
Hitting big milestones and long runs during the training cycle was such a high for me. I remember feeling so proud of myself as I finished my first 14 miler (up until this training cycle, I had only ever run a half marathon distance – 13.1). When I hit 18 miles a few weeks later, I cried the whole drive back home.
During my training cycle, I ran two 20 mile runs. The first one I ran with the local Marathon in Training Group, which was so encouraging. People I had never met before were cheering me on, running beside me, and making sure I finished.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I had found a strong sense of community with these runners. I am still so thankful for all the runners that I met that day, and all the days to follow. We have such an awesome community! The second 20-miler I ended with a half marathon in the heart of downtown Columbus, which was an experience I’ll never forget.
The weeks leading up to the marathon (taper time) were the hardest for me. I was super nervous, which majorly triggered my anxiety. The “taper-tantrums” completely took over, and I was not fun to be around. I just kept thinking, “am I really trained to run 26.2 miles?” and “what if I get hurt?” or “what if I’ve put all this work in and I don’t make it to the race on time?” It was a terrible time for me mentally.
On the day of the race, I had some jitters that never really left me, but I was able to push past them once I started running. The coolest thing about the Nationwide Columbus Marathon is the cause. All proceeds from the race benefit Nationwide Children’s Hospital. To show their appreciation, the hospital selects “patient champions” to be at each mile throughout the course.
The patient stories are so inspiring and I high-fived all 26 champions along the course. They honestly kept me going. I was feeling good for the first 20 miles of the race, but I definitely hit “the wall” around mile 22 and it was brutal. I wanted to quit so many times, but I kept repeating my mantra, “equipped mother runner”. All throughout that time, I kept telling myself that I trained hard for this, I would finish, and I would be a marathoner. It was hard, but I finished and was so thankful!
As soon as I crossed the finish line, tears started to well up in my eyes, and soon I was sobbing. Emotion just welled up inside of me. All the training, all the hard work, all the early mornings, all the sore muscles, all the doubt had finally come to this: I was a marathoner! I felt so thankful in that moment, and I have never loved being a runner more.
During the marathon training cycle, I learned so many things about myself, because I spent so much time with just myself on my training runs. I was able to connect with God in a new way; spending time on runs praying and listening to worship music. Sometimes, when I was really anxious, I would forgo the headphones altogether and just spend some time working through some of my thoughts. My runs were also a really great way for me to connect with nature, which I had started to lose in the business of life. Running is just really cathartic for me, and I feel so thankful that I’m able to do it.
After the race I thought “I will never do that again” and then maybe 30 minutes later I was like, “where can I sign up for my next race?” Running does that to us, doesn’t it?! I’m excited to finally cross this one off the bucket list, and I’m even more eager to see where running takes me in 2020.