Today, as my alarm clock struck 4:27 and I was startled by the noise, I began to reflect about my marathon training. I wasn’t regretting waking up so early; I actually don’t mind being up before the sun because it gives me some quiet time. This morning, it was 72 degrees at 5:00 a.m. with 100% humidity (No exaggeration. Keep being awesome, D.C.), but there was a BEAUTIFUL sunrise and, as an added bonus, Super Moon was still up. As a runner, I got to experience the beautiful sight of mist over the green fields and the first light of day glinting off of the neighborhood mosque. That was the nice part of my run.
The not-nice part of my run was the amount of sweat dripping off of my body and I wondered if marathoning had lost its magic. Training for and running marathons are still fun, and I still want to run long races, but the feeling of training has morphed. When I think back to my first experience training for 26.2, there was a mystique. I remember telling one of my friends that if I could run 5 miles by a certain date, that I would bite the bullet and sign-up for the Philly Marathon. It would be poetic: 26.2 miles on my 26th birthday. Every long run I did training for that race was “the farthest I’ve ever run”. It was an awesome feeling to know that I had accomplished a personal best that day. At the time, I totally paid for every single long run with hobbling around the house and icing my knees. After a particularly long run (some where in the high teens), Husband and I went out to watch a football game with friends in Baltimore. I could barely walk up the stairs to the bar I was so sore, but it felt good. I had accomplished a major goal. Husband and our friends were impressed. It was awesome.
People were really nice to me when I was training for my first marathon. They thought it was cute that I was training. When I asked my then-boss if I could adjust my hours to train, she allowed it. I guess that it’s kind of like being pregnant for the first time: people treat you really nicely because you’re putting your body through hell and you didn’t know what it was going to be like when you started. Not that people aren’t nice to me now, but it’s different. They don’t feel as bad for when I hobble around after a particularly long run because I knew the consequences to my actions. For example, after my 20-miler training for my most recent marathon, Husband encouraged me to walk the 2 miles to the Ukrainian festival. It was both a good and bad thing. It loosened my muscles, but I walked all that way in inappropriate footwear and wanted to die. Thankfully, Husband did feel pity on me and walked back to our house to get the car and drive me home.
I suppose that is one thing that adds challenge to subsequent marathons: you know what you’re getting into, but you do it anyway. You know how bad it’s going to hurt. You know that you are going to feel like absolute garbage, but the challenge of pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is what drives you. I am amazed at people who are able to run marathons on consecutive days or even weekends like the Marathon Maniacs or the T-Rex runner. Some of my friends completed the Goofy Challenge this past year. They are amazing! I just don’t know if my mind and body would do that, but I think it’s awesome. They push themselves to a point that many think is “crazy”. I think the idea of running in all 50 states or completing seven marathons in seven days is pretty crazy cool and adds a little more mystique to marathons. The purpose of the marathon is to break through physical and mental barriers. One thing I need to remember is that there are always ways to Chuck Yeager-through some limit I have set for myself. It’s just a matter of getting there.