I read somewhere, that participating in something beneficial like running is something to pay forward. Just as my friend who encouraged me to sign up for my first half did for me and many others, I’ve encouraged other friends to run with me and work on changing the perception that it “can’t be done” and that walking is ok. In that same article or speech, I remember reading or hearing that if you can influence 20 people to get off the couch or try something new, that is an achievement. So far, in my short time, I’ve encouraged seven people to try a race or new distance with four of them doing a successful Half Marathon distance. I feel proud when that happens and happy for them, since I know the feeling of achieving a goal you didn’t think you could do.
One friend, Amy, did her first 10K with me 9 months ago. Five minutes after finishing, she had signed up for her first Half Marathon – 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon with me! Needless to say, I was very excited for her and the journey she was about to start. The story doesn’t end as one would expect. I was training for the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon in January and finished my training a few weeks early and decided to sign up for the Los Angeles New Year’s Race. I had never done a night race and thought that might be fun. She signed up with me. That race was a killer – cold temperatures caused cramping that I had never experienced and was so hilly that runners around me were saying that it made San Francisco look flat. We all ended up added 15-20 minutes to our “normal” times – or that was the estimate around mile 8. Needless to say, it was miserable. Had this been my first race, I doubt I would have ever done this again. And lesson learned: always review elevation maps.
We finished and then it happened. I saw a Facebook post that Amy was signed up for the Catalina Marathon – a FULL 26.2 Miles. She just turned 60 this year. Her first race ever was at 59 and then one miserable half marathon and suddenly a full. I thought she was the bravest person I had ever met. A full marathon: not just a full marathon, but the sixth hardest course in the United States. And she did it.
I never had the desire to attempt a full marathon. What people don’t tell you about distance running is that it is 50% mental. At least for me it is. Only 50% is your training and preparation. But the rest you have to want and not let your head overcome what you can do physically. Whether it be during training and talking yourself out of bed to do the long run, or during the race itself, the mental aspect can be challenging. For me, a half marathon is a maximum of 3 hours and 20 minutes walking. I can be by myself that long, listening to music and handle my thoughts. Longer than that seems daunting when you’re tired. Why would I want to double that?
But then there was Amy. And I was in awe of her bravery and wondered if I could ever be that courageous.
As I’ve mentioned before, I started participating in races with my first Half Marathon in October 2012. Every time I sign up or take on a new challenge there is always a little bit of doubt and excitement, but after having done the same distance many times, it’s really not that I won’t finish that I doubt, but more “Will I feel ok?”, “Can I achieve a similar time to what I’ve done in the past?” and “Did I train enough?” that goes through my mind. Maybe a new challenge……I wondered if I was being ridiculous to think I should try. And if I had the right support group.
One of the great things about specific races like runDisney is that runners form Facebook groups for training support, travel advice and general cheerleading. About two weeks after my friend completed her full marathon, I see a Facebook post pop up:
“OK Honest opinion – I’m 47, (need to lose 15 pounds) and I have only run 2 half both GSC – going for 3rd in October (Diva) and I am seriously considering doing the WDW full in January – recovery on the last half was fantastic – but please tell me I’m crazy – this is for serious runners and not me – right?! Oh and I finished half in 3:08 – would have been under 3 hours if not for unfortunate bathroom timing. Opinions please!!!!!”
What? Do I have a near double? I am the same age, need to lose a few pounds, and pace a little faster than this lady, but the thoughts were there. So I messaged her asking why she was spying on me….We are now Facebook friends and decided to sign up and train virtually together since none of our friends would do this with us. That was the plan until she had meniscus surgery and had to postpone a year. But this was all in theory – there was still a month before registration even opened.
Then another stressful day where too many people rained on my parade acting like things were impossible and putting up roadblocks that kept me from achieving deadlines. So in an “I’ll show them moment”, I registered for my first full marathon.
What did I do? On a daily basis I’m excited and nauseous all at once. A wave of anxiety just came over me as I type this. Am I really doing this? Can I do this? I decided not to think about it until after Tinker Bell weekend and the Pixie Dust Challenge.
To distract myself since then, I’ve done everything except train and run in preparation: I’ve chosen my outfit, I’ve mapped my running calendar, co-started a first time marathoner group for this race on Facebook so others don’t feel alone, and even bought a shirt announcing my training. And today, I finally signed up with a movement specialist/physical therapist/trainer to help correct my movement and make me more efficient and lower my risk of injury. My assessment is tomorrow and know how bad it’s going to be. Then the work begins.