This coming week marks 1 year from my very first marathon. It’s hard to believe how fast the time has gone! My marathon journey was not pretty and not easy and yet, if someone was to ask my about my accomplishments that I am most proud of up to this point in my life, my marathon finish would make the list.
I wasn’t a runner before. I actually ran my first marathon less than a year after my first 5K. I had dabbled with Couch 25K apps, but as soon as the running length time pushed me out of my comfort zone, I ceased. Let me tell you, running a marathon requires much more than a 20 minute run!
Looking back, I probably didn’t prepare like I should have. I certainly put in the time, but not the ideal amount. My schedule didn’t do me any favors. As a teacher with the summer free I envisioned my summer filled with training runs and post-run Epsom salt baths. What I didn’t factor in was teacher summer school, the restaurant being short-staffed and packing my week full of early shifts and landing my job as a pastry chef for a local distillery. My running took a hit and my running plan often was slighted.
I remember sitting at a local restaurant table with two of my dear friends the night before a long training run, mascara tears rolling down my cheeks, and feeling super emotional about my running inferiority. I pinned lots of ‘Run YOUR own race, not someone else’s’ quotes and visual images, but I just couldn’t manifest those inspirational words in my own life.
But there I was, one very cold morning in Bar Harbor, getting ready to run one of the most beautiful places and most scenic races ever. My fingers shaked as my friend helped me pin my bib. I stripped off my thermal pull over and handed it to her just as the gun went off.
My dear friends had recorded messages that were then converted to MP3 format for me to listen to during my race. They were interspersed with my shuffle of selected songs and would pop up with random frequency throughout the run. I had not listened to them prior and it was such a wonderful treat to hear all of the collection of personalities come with me. Some of them were funny, some were heart felt, all were encouraging and helped me place one foot in front of another.
At one point I was starting to become tired and emotional. The two girls I had used as my pacers were only doing the relay and were long done. I had fallen into my usual tricks of fast-slow running rhythms. I saw a hill ahead and knew it was going to take some pushing. Then, at the top of the hill, I saw a familiar figure: My dad. I began to cry as I approached his big, proud smile as he aimed the camera my way. I ran and gave him a hug and then turned to the left and continued on my journey. It was just what I needed at that point.
The finish line is great and a relief and has an inexplicable finality to it. It’s the realization of an accomplished goal, but it has this ‘wow! It’s over now” to it too. My family and friends gathered around me and hugged me and showered me with praise and congratulatory hugs and pats. I should have returned the favor for all of the waiting they did on me. Their entire day was wrapped up in me running.
When I returned from Maine, I had this new strength and power. I had accomplished something that a small percentage of the planet ever did. I wanted to run right up to strangers and say, “Guess what I just did!” but that doesn’t work if you’re over the age of 5 so I moved through my day to day with a quiet knowing. It was a sharp contrast to some of my other feelings surrounding this feat.
It wasn’t like I got in some motorized vehicle or hopped on a bike, yet some part of me believes I cheated or short-cutted in some way. Believe me. I did not. I physically moved my body all of those 26.2 miles. I have the days of soreness after to prove it!
To this day if someone remarks on my marathon accomplishment I still sometimes think inside my head, “well, you didn’t REALLY do it. You walked portions. You took a long time to reach the finish line”. But my friend Brittany reminds me of the truth – I did it. It wasn’t Boston qualifying time, it wasn’t glorious and it didn’t change the trajectory of my or anyone else’s life, but I did it.
Please enjoy some pictures from my favorite place..