There is little that evokes a feeling in me similar to when someone registers, trains, then achieves the finish line of their first marathon. I don’t know what it is about that distance that makes it emotional for me. Distance running is getting more and more popular. And I think the half marathon is still the most popular distance. It is far enough that it definitely tests your capability. Far enough that it requires training. But also a distance that is fairly reasonable to fit the miles into a busy schedule. And also a distance that most recover from pretty quickly. I feel like the marathon distance is in a different ballpark. The hours of commitment it takes to put in the miles to train for a marathon is pretty intense. The resolve it takes to push your body, week after week, through long runs of 16, 18, and 20 miles is nothing short of impressive. The marathon is a hard distance. It will test your body. And no matter how seamless your training is, there will be lows to go along with the highs, and you have to roll with them.
“There are few experiences in life in which my physical and psychological abilities are as sharply defined as they are during marathon training and racing…The training and racing experiences have shown me sides of myself that I never knew existed. I’ve found perseverance, an ability to focus, stubbornness, compulsiveness, bravery, organization, a sense of humor, and a capacity for unbridled joy.” — Gordon Bakoulis Bloch
Despite how emotional others’ first marathons make me, it didn’t really apply to my own personal first marathon in December of 2009. I remember the training and how difficult it was, but I don’t remember being particularly thrilled or emotional at the finish line. I just wanted to be DONE. What I DO remember? I remember waiting at that finish line for Elaine to finish. I remember calling her husband for updates. I remember my legs cramping ferociously, but I was not going to leave that finish line for fear of missing her. And when I saw her coming around the corner for the finishing stretch, I ran down the fenceline to cheer her in… bawling… and having no clue how my legs were actually running. I was a basketcase waiting for her and then sheer excitement and thrill!
Also, as a coach, there’s been no greater moment than being at the finish line of a first marathon of someone I’ve worked alongside!
There are others… and on days that people I know have run their first, I stalk the race tracker like a crazy person. I love watching others have that magical moment. It is seriously, in the running world, one of my absolute favorite things to witness.
So last night, my friend, Jacque posted this on her facebook…
— Start slow, Relax, and Take it all in. Because at the end of the day, you will be a marathoner!!!