Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My marathon journey: A rocky course to get to the starting line

This full marathon journey training has been challenging on every single level for me. It's been surprisingly a thousand times harder than the training for my first half marathon. Sure, the miles are more, the training more intense but it's not so much that.

The first time around, I had so much support, people sincerely "rooting" me on -- that feeling of love really carried me through the times that I questioned the journey. But, this is where I must put on my big girl pants and muddle through. This is no one else's journey but mine.  Those who do support me, however, have risen to the occasion and have really kept me going.

There have been the other obstacles too. I've been hit with injuries, confronted with time issues, buried in a winter of snow, even struggled with finding the right sneakers for my 'over-pronating' wide feet that couldn't seem to settle into the right fit. I've battled my own insecurities, hours of tedious treadmill long runs, travel, stress, depression and whatever else we all have to deal with on a daily basis.

This course has not been fast and flat - it's been uphill and a bitch the whole way.

I'm feeling woefully under-trained - last year I didn't miss one yard of the training prescribed for me, this time around, short runs have been altered, long runs aborted and things have been willy nilly.

my running buddy - literally on the path during my last long run
Last week I did a long run of 14.5 miles. It wasn't easy but it was a great long run and I silently thanked the running Gods for that much needed gift.  This past week I was to run 16 -- I went out there fully prepared and with the mind-set to do it -- until hail/rain/gusty wind put an end to it - I wound up with about 12. My schedule has been tweaked once again from Coach Leslie - I have not given up.

I just need to get to that finish line. But I need to push myself to the starting line first.

There have been more times than I would care to admit that thoughts of quitting has bubbled up.  Every day - I consider raising the white flag. I could drop to the RNR half and easily complete that - receive my medal and 'rock out' in San Diego. But that medal wouldn't erase the letters that would be branded on my brain - 'DNF'.

So with all of this - why am I doing this?

I ask myself this question a lot - especially during the second half of a long run...

Some days I struggle to answer it but at its very core the answer is simple - I made it a goal. I decided to tell myself and the world that this is something I want to accomplish - this is something I can accomplish. Giving up now would do nothing for me. Will I be trained enough? Will I be able to do 26.2? I'm not even sure anymore but I would rather try and fail than never try at all. If I 'fall' at mile 16 or 18 or 22 - I'll be disappointed - probably devastated but quitting before I even get to the starting line? It's just not an option.

It's not about being perfect - it's about persevering. I've read from other runners that it's often not their "PR" races that is their proudest accomplishment - it's the race where everything went wrong, the weather bad, the wrong sneakers packed, the forgotten gels or illness… where they faced a really tough battle and got to that finish line anyway.

It would be easy to quit and probably even met with some support and relief from some folks in my life - but I will not quit. I will not give up. I've always given up when things got tough or uncomfortable. If I'm ever going to really change my life then I have to be willing to suffer through being out of my comfort zone. Life throws us curves - it's not the time to curl up into the fetal position and cry (as much as I'd like to some days!) It's the time to work harder and dig deep and believe.

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living" -Nelson Mandela


PS: Congrats Jason on your amazing Half Iron-Man finish!! So proud and excited for you - check out his race report here.
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