"More Than A Marathon" - with Boston Marathon Runner Guest Blogger
May 4, 2017
More Than a Marathon
I can’t say that I have wanted to run a marathon my entire life. In fact, I remember the first few years I spent as a spectator on Marathon Monday I thought to myself “these people are crazy.” I ran track in high school and enjoyed an occasional run when the weather was nice now that I lived in Boston and it seemed like that was what you were supposed to do, but a marathon was not on my to-do list.
2013 changed my life forever. The way Boston came together after the bombings inspired me to become more involved in the city that I had lived in for several years now. Later that year I went through a difficulty time that forced me to explore new hobbies, find myself, and discover what mental toughness really means. I was busy with school, my social life, and work but running became therapy for me because it was the one thing I knew I could control.
When I signed up for my first marathon I hoped that one day I would qualify for Boston but many experienced runners told me that it would take several marathons to get to that point. I believed them, but I quietly went about my training with my eyes on the prize: a sub 3:35 marathon so that I can cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon.
My first marathon was in November 2015. I trained completely on my own, only going to local fitness groups/classes a couple days per week. My mom wrote out splits on my arms for times that would get be below my 3:35 goal but since it was my first marathon I decided to just had to go with how my body felt once I got out there. I crossed the finish line as the 2nd female finisher and when I looked down at my watch and couldn’t believe it. 3:30:09. I actually pulled it off. The only problem? It was too late to apply for the 2016 Boston Marathon so I had to wait until 2017. Between then and Boston I ran the Bay State Marathon in 2016 and finished with a time of 3:26:05, still participating in fitness groups a few days per week but doing all of my long runs by myself.
I had a few months off before I started training in December so I increased my strengthening, did a lot of yoga, and took some time to relax before I had to get serious about training. I trained through the summer my other marathons but training in the winter is a whole new ballgame. I ran in the snow, sleet, and below freezing temps all in an effort to avoid the treadmill. I followed a 22-week intermediate level plan and trained harder than I ever had before. I ran sprints by myself, ran long runs did cross training with local running groups, and went to yoga once a week. 88 hours and 652.5 miles later it was April 17, 2017-- I was ready to run the Boston Marathon.
The day finally came and the nerves started to subside as I walked to the start. I chose to not listen to music so that I could take everything in—the crowds, music, listening to stories from fellow runners. Everything was perfect that morning and I was ready to run best race of my life, the only thing I couldn’t predict was the weather and of course that day was one of the hottest days of the year. It was hot- like really f-ing hot. I felt great until mile 17, then things went downhill (actually uphill to get past Heartbreak hill but you know what I mean). I did my best in those last 9 miles so that I could cross that finish line but I wasn’t able to keep the pace I had trained to do. My body wanted me to stop but I would do anything to cross that finish line. I stopped at every water stop, ran through every sprinkler and fire hydrant that was open to cool my body down, and walked when I needed to --which I have never done in a race before. I didn’t get my best time or even close to the time that I wanted, but I crossed that finish line and learned a lot along the way.
4 years ago if you told me where I would be today I would have laughed and told you that you were wrong. I never would have thought I would spend most of my day on 22 consecutive Saturdays running in the snow, rain, and below freezing temperatures. I never would have thought I could run over 20 miles under 8:00 per mile. At mile 17 I thought I couldn’t finish the race. But I have done all of that. Not because someone is forcing me to, but because I have learned that this is what I love to do. I found the thing that makes me feel alive. Sometimes it seems selfish, especially when I am missing out on things because I have to run but I have found that if being selfish for an hour a day is what you need, do it. Whether you run marathons, go to Soul Cycle, weight lift, or walk your dog around the block—find what you love. I sure did.