Planning to run a marathon takes time and heart. I gave myself three months to prepare for the 26.2 miles ahead of me. (I was starting with a baseline of 6 miles) It wasn’t the most glorious training. I often fell short of my running schedule and tried to make up for it in other ways. Eating healthier or resorted to other ways of exercise such as biking or weights.
What I found most important through out the entire duration was staying focused on completing a marathon. I never doubted that I was unable of finishing. I knew that once I got on the road my focus primarily was not the time but on completing the run. There were many tears a long the way but no matter what I did not waver.
I specifically remember one day I had my first 14 miler. I had biked the route a few times and built up courage to do it. In the end, I did not prepare well. It ended up being well over 80 degrees and I had brought no water. I had 6 miles to go and had a mental break down and called my sister. She was exactly what I need in that moment. Her advice “walk, jog, run; it doesn’t matter you have 6 miles to go and you will be finished.” Life wasn’t over, I just had to get over the hurdle in front of me. No matter how monstrous it seemed.
From that point on I had a more positive outlook on my runs. I knew I never went too far where I couldn’t get myself back safely and I could have some one come rescue me if need be. I was also always prepared, I had purchase a running belt where I had water handy and gels for energy. My confidence was building and so was my mileage.
I truthfully had stopped following my schedule. The last month up to my race was a toss up between hurricane weather and ending the summer season working. Everything was coming to a close and I focused on making money and spending time with friends. I never stopped running I kept up with 3 to 4 runs a week and did what was necessary. I didn’t want to jeopardize getting out of shape and losing everything I had gained up to that point.
However as I look back I could have ran more longer distances. I only accomplished 14 miles prior to race day. I lied to everyone and said 16 to ease everyone’s mind and joked how the last 10 is up in the air. But it really was 12 miles.
As I kept that in mind, I focused on how my body felt after the runs. From the hours to days after completing a run I focused on how my body reacted. If I was doubled over with pain and very sore I knew I wasn’t doing enough because my body wasn’t staying conditioned. If I bounced back quickly I knew my body was adapting to the longer distances and building endurance and strength. A big thing I learned was understandings my body and it’s needs. Everyday it is giving you constant feedback on what you are doing to it. If I did not eat enough that day during my run I felt it. If I didn’t drink enough water I literally dreamt of rivers and waterfalls. Your body is a beautiful thing and if you treat it with love and respect it will positively respond back.
My first marathon was powerful. Everything I had done the past three months carried me through to the end. I had my mom to cheer me on and be my nurse as I was on my road to recovery after. One thing I found to be the most heartfilling was the support I received. Throughout my training and up to the day of the marathon my family and friends were there for me. They gave me words of encouragement and never ending love. That part was huge because I wasn’t only doing the marathon for myself, I was doing it for others. I wanted to inspire them and motivate them to do things they may not have once thought possible. Anything that you set your mind to you can and will achieve them through perseverance and determination.
As I stood in my section for the race to start, I had complete composure. I was almost in a euphoria where it was real but felt unreal. My mom embraced me and gave me a kiss and then I gave my two biggest supporters a call, my sister and boyfriend. As the crowd was cheering in their language, the gun went off and five minutes later my section was shuffling forward. I passed the start mark and I was off. I kept pace with everyone around me for the first half marathon. That part flew by I was taking in the beautiful sights of Budapest and everyone cheering. As I entered into the second part my body took a bit of a turn. I won’t get into it but I had to use the bathroom at every water stop. Each time setting me a little more behind. I would be fine and a wave of stomach knots would take over. I believe it was a mixture of too much gu and my stomach not use to the distance. So I stopped using the gu and tried my best to set pace. The race was in kilometers and I set a goal to get out of the 20s. I knew once I was, everything was downhill. I focused on 30 and once I got there I knew it was coasting the rest of the way through.
Coming to the ending 5km was thrilling. It all was real when I enter the last stretch and knew the medal was right around the corner. I bumped up my speed a notch and told my body “take me home.” I can feel the last 2km, I just soaked in the feeling of completing the marathon. In my half marathons I tried sprinting out the last bit but today was all about gliding in and appreciating in the last moments.
Passing the finish line, I cannot express the surreal feeling. I had just done 26.2 miles/ 42km. As my mom found me and we sat on the ground, my mind and body was processing what just happened. I couldn’t believe it! I had done it! I finished my first marathon.
I set a goal for myself and I knocked it out of the park. Not necessarily time was but that wasn’t my concern this marathon.
I learned a lot about myself during the whole process of training. The biggest was my idea of what I want for myself and how to make it a reality. It took myself and no one else to make that happen. In life everyone is willing to help when they can but they can only do so much. It’s part of taking responsibility and ownership and being an adult and making decisions. I am now 24 years old and in this past month I will have solo traveled around Europe, ran a marathon and will find a career. It didn’t take a month to complete, it’s been years of work put into myself and finally having the courage to pursue it. This time in my life is one of the most unsure and questionable times and I’m fully aware of it. But no longer am I treading in the middle of the lake of uncertainty. I’m swimming in a direction and I will find land.
I’m excited for the next journey in my life and what brings with it. I know there will be many more marathons literally and figuratively ahead of me and with experience comes improved times and better training techniques. Life experiences help you learn and grow. I can say that I’m growing in a direction that makes me happy and excited for the future.