On Sunday, I ran my first marathon, and it was awful. It was awful and amazing, frustrating and exhilarating. It was one thousand times worse than all of my training runs, even the 18 and 20 mile ones.re
I puked twice before reaching mile 10. Around mile 14, I was convinced I was indeed going to be yet another marathon runner who shits her pants. I seriously, honestly thought I was going to shit myself. I owe you one, Mr. Inventor of the Port-a-potty! Your stinky box of foul human waste saved me from a lifetime of embarrassment.
It seemed as if the entire race route conspired with my traitorous body to take me down and ensure I couldn’t complete it.
I didn’t train on gravel trails – I swear half of the race was on gravel trails.
I didn’t train for hills – I swear the entire marathon was uphill.
I certainly didn’t train to run so painstakingly slow – I blame those damn hills for this one, too.
Yet, I finished.
I crossed that finish line at 5 hours and 37 minutes and 46 seconds, which was 1 hour and 7 minutes and 46 seconds later than I had wanted, than I had planned for.
I’ve been told time doesn’t matter and the only thing that matters is crossing the finish line. I truly convinced myself that I would feel that way when I crossed the finish line.
That’s bullshit. That’s what you tell someone as you dismissively pat their head and send them to bed.
I crossed the finish in in excruciating pain which radiated from the tips of my toes to the end of each follicle of hair. I was exhausted. I was nauseous. I was hungry, but my nausea made me gag at the mere thought of food. Disappointment gnawed at me.
How would I ever tell my friends and family that I barely crossed the finish line, only slightly ahead of the six hour sweeper? I literally almost got swept out of the race.
I put on a brave face to my lovely friends and family who supported me when all I wanted to do was cry. That night, I swore I was never going to do another. I vowed that my marathon experience was forever over. I slept.
Through the night filled with pain, I analyzed my run and what had gone wrong. Why did I walk so much on race day when I only briefly walked during my 20 mile training run?
I came up with nothing. Nothing. It just happened.
Sometimes we train for things, and it simply doesn’t work out.
Sometimes we plan for things, and our plans go awry.
Sometimes we need to hurt, stumble and limp to a Port-a-potty in defeat.
After I realized this, after I cried in frustration, pain and anger, I was finally able to celebrate my victory and to recognize it for what it was: I ran a fucking marathon!
At 36.75 years old, I ran a marathon carrying 2013’s extra 20 pounds of stress weight and an inhaler, and I finished!
Not only did I finish the Naperville Marathon, but I won!
Sure, the actual Naperville Marathon race results will tell you that technically I finished 1008th out of 1079 marathon runners and 79th place out of 83 runners in my division. Blah, blah, blah.
Here’s what matters: I trained for months. I trained in the heat and the cold. I trained through my anxiety, weight gain, insomnia, self-doubt and fear. There were days when I was so discouraged that I decided to stop training and give up. Four days before the race, I seriously considered not running it. However Sunday morning, I showed up at the starting line. I finished. I won.
If I can do it, so can you! Whether it be a running a marathon, finishing a college degree or losing weight, show up at the starting line and don’t give up until you cross that finish line!
If you liked this, you may also like to read 26.2 Reasons why I’m running 26.2 miles, Coping with a child’s chronic illness: How running heals me, Sometimes positive thinking isn’t enough to cross the finish line and How a tired, frazzled, mother of 3 finally got her groove back.
What’s next for me? Well, I’ve got another marathon to run next year. I’m not about to quit until I finish it my way.
I’ve also got a college degree to complete and 20 pounds to lose. Let’s do it together!
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