From 5k to marathon

When I tell people I ran a marathon (or when I told them I was training for one), the reactions were often intriguing. Most commonly, it was “wow, I could never do that.” Well, guess what? I used to say that too. But to be quite frank, you can do anything you put your mind to. Seriously.

I don’t really remember why I started running. Probably because I thought it would make me skinny (eye roll). I was a junior in college and started running short distances around campus in the spring. I think I fell in love with running as an outdoor funtivity.

I’m known to be somewhat of an anxious overachiever, so naturally I started  to increase my distance. It also so happened that, at the time, I was interning for a guy who is a motivational life coach, and he helped me set a bunch of school, career and personal goals. One of my personal goals was to start running races. The first? A 5k. Then a 10k. Then leap to a half marathon. Back then, I swore I’d never sign up for a marathon.

Fast forward a few months and I completed my first 5k and 10k in the fall of 2013. After the 10k, I was addicted to the positive atmosphere of racing. I was slow, and I still am. I’m all about self improvement, but running is not competitive for me. It’s not about comparing yourself to others.

It took me a while to work up to the half marathon mark. In fact, I don’t think I would have done it if it weren’t for my best friend and I impulsively encouraging each other to sign up on a Friday afternoon in January of 2015.

A wonderful coworker of mine heard that I was training for a half and demanded that I join the “run club” at work. Run Club turned out to be him and I running at 6:30 every Wednesday morning and some Sundays. His encouragement helped me get a lot stronger and faster.

Three half marathons and a few 10 mile races later, I worked up the ambition to sign up for a marathon. I’d heard that the Twin Cities Marathon was perfect for first-timers, so I signed up with eight months to train.

Marathon training is hard. I questioned my decision a lot. Especially on long run days where there just wasn’t enough time. It felt like my life revolved around training. I definitely could have trained better, and I learned a lot of lessons for next time. Especially after I got tendinitis in my foot after a particularly tough 16-mile run. My training was derailed for two weeks only a month before the big race.

But I didn’t let that stop me. I got right back into training after my foot healed and finished out with some shorter runs. My longest training run was only 16 miles. My goal for the marathon was just to finish. And I did! I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face on October 9, 2016. It was painful, but a wonderful, positive and uplifting experience.

If you made it to the end of this post, your reward is a Michael Scott quote:

Finishing that 5k, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I ate more fettuccine alfredo and drank less water, than I have in my entire life. People always talk about triumphs of the human spirit, well today I had a triumph of the human body. That’s why everybody was applauding for me at the end. My guts and my heart, and while I eventually puked my guts out, I never puked my heart out. And I’m very, very proud of that.

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