I did it. I actually did it. I ran (well, ran and walked) 26.2 miles. And not spread out over weeks either. This was all at once and everything. And I really enjoyed it. Really. Even when I got tired around mile 15 and had to walk a fair bit. Even when I felt a blister rising around mile 16. Even when I was standing in line at various port-o-potties. I may have even loved it, a little. Last year at this time, I hadn't even entertained the idea of running a marathon. I had only just decided to train for a half someday. I am completely amazed at what has happened over the last 11 months. I have gone from being terrified of a 7 mile run to willingly waking up at 2:30 a.m. to go run 26.2 miles. Body Glide, LSD's, Fartleks, and Gu have become integrated into my life and vocabulary. Every run leading up to this race taught me something. Some taught me patience, some gratitude. An awful lot of runs taught me humility. And most of all, running has taught me about myself.
It was the perfect day for a race. The most beautiful June 9th on record (in my mind, okay guys? Just go with it). It was a gorgeous morning up Provo Canyon in the tiny town of Wallsburg. It wasn't even cold like we were all expecting. A pleasant 60 degrees. The Marathon Maniacs chose this marathon as a meet up. There were Maniacs everywhere. I wanted so badly to go and talk to them, but felt like I would be intruding. I am a member of the Half Fanatics, the Maniacs younger sibling, so to speak. But I remained timid. I listed to them talk about all the races that they had run. Many had completed over 150 marathons. The best part is, most of the Maniacs that I heard talking, were planning on finishing nice and slow, like me. They talked about running ultras and how it was so great to walk the hills, chat with other runners, and eat. I instantly thought that maybe ultra running could be my thing. I like to eat, okay?
There were so many nice people running. All the Maniacs were fun and friendly to me as I ran. I shouldn't have been worried about trying to talk to them. The Gear Guy even ran mile 3 to 4 with me, since I finally got up the nerve to talk to other runners once we started. I was wearing the brightest neon pink calf sleeves on the face of the earth. That garnered much approval from my fellow runners and also the aid station people. One of my favorite things about running is all the neon apparel available. But back to the marathon. The course was beautiful. The canyon was alive and green. There were verdant pastures filled with frolicking horses. The half moon stayed in the sky all through the run. There were a few windy sections, but I just imagined myself flying through the air, like a super hero, cape flapping in the wind. A true champion of justice and all that. Running is a very mental sport. I have to use all sorts of visualizations and self talk to get through the long ones.
I had a bit of a scare when the sag wagon pulled up to me around mile 16 and asked how I was doing. I guess I was falling a bit behind. I politely waved him on and started booking it down the canyon. I managed to get back on track and beat the time limit. By mile 21 I was actually getting my second wind. It got to the point where I didn't like stopping for my walk breaks because it was harder to get going again after. So I just kept on truckin'. I was passing people there at the end too. I was actually passing people! After running for over 5 hours! There were so many people who looked so miserable. I couldn't quite understand it, since every step I took was taking me closer to the finish line. I could feel the smile on my face grow with every inch of ground gained. I didn't feel fresh as a daisy, by any means, but after training for so long, the last thing I was going to do was hate this experience.
Here's to living, learning, and running happy :)