If you absolutely hate running and would NEVER try it…then this may not be for you. But if you want to know what makes me tick, keep reading. My love for this sport has been more than just a hobby, it has been my lifestyle.
It is amazing what your mind can do when you run. If you continue to train your body again and again, there is something spectacular that the mind does that makes you feel amazing. Your body is physically exhausted but your mind is hit with a super drug that makes you feel like you can do anything. Running is an addiction really. The more you do it, the better you feel and the more you feel like you can accomplish.
The first time that I fell in love with running was in elementary school. I didn’t realize it at the time but becoming a runner has impacted my life tremendously. I use to LOVE the mile in gym class. It didn’t matter if I got a prize at the end, I HAD to beat most of the other kids in class. I was shy and I quietly excelled in school, so to find something that I was visibly good at was so special to me. I wasn’t the class clown, the pretty girl, the brain or the trouble maker. Once my legs hit that ground, I was more than any of those titles. For the first time, I was an all star.
I would literally run 100 times around my parent’s backyard just because I knew I could. Who does that? Especially when you are a little kid in a tiny backyard? I did it non stop because I could. Talk about motivation and endurance coming out of my ass. My elementary school had a running club where you would get a certificate every time you ran so many miles and you got your name on a board/plaque once you do. That was Gold! My whole life relied on getting a certificate and getting the national or presidential physical fitness award. My mind was set.
I recently asked my parents what they thought of this. Where did I get this desire to run? Well, my dad ran when he was in High School and I always wanted to be just like him and my mom. My mom thought that it was cute and my dad said that I had “that type of energy.” Being an energetic child and the youngest of four girls, I was always bored and always felt that I needed to exert my physical energy. Running gave me a thrill. Being the little energizer bunny that I was, it kept my battery going. Thus, an insane person was born.
I joined a running club in junior high, however because I wasn’t the best I became discouraged and gave up for a little while. I was a little stubborn ass and was embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up with the other kids. However, I’m not a quitter…
High School came around and since my friends were joining something, I had to too. My sister had a friend who was on the cross country team and they along with my parents encouraged me to join it. I received some information and decided to go to the first day of practice. I felt so uncomfortable with my scrawny little legs and underdeveloped body. Especially around the other high school girls, who were practically women. There was nothing about them that was prepubescent. However, they became my mentors and made me feel so welcome. And the boys? I had to interact with them? Holy shit! They probably see me as a little girl. Well, I was but from that first day on…they became my family and my strength. Those first few weeks were so hard but little did I know, my size and my mind was made for this sport. In the words of Mr. Gump..”I just kept on running!”
I continued to move up and up with each PR. I didn’t keep up with those older girls, but I remember the day I made varsity and lettered. It was one of our last races and I had worked so hard to be on varsity. Approaching the last bend into the finish line, I could hear my coach yell “Becca, You’ve made it to Varsity!” BOOM! My sprint was like a cheetah. That was my first time being on varsity, lettering and my first medal. All as a freshman in High School. I felt on top of the world that day.
All four years of High School I lettered and received plaques and metals. For the first time, I found my niche. Every race and every practice was so important to me. Little did I know that High School Cross Country and Track were just the tip of the iceberg of my athletic career and addiction.
After I graduated from High School, I joined Regis University’s Cross Country team. I lasted a week and I quit. Even though running was such a big part of my life, I lost my passion. The spark wasn’t there. It wasn’t the same and I didn’t have my old team. I was so upset at myself for quitting because I felt like a loser. I felt like I lost the biggest race. However, I didn’t realize that the biggest race hadn’t even begun for me.
All throughout High School and College, I felt like I needed to be with other people and that I needed to experience the finish with friends or people I knew. I learned pretty quickly that running is an individual sport. That’s the beauty of it. I knew this all along, however it took me a long time to embrace it. Luckily I continued to run even though I lost that passion for a bit. Training by myself was difficult but I still did my college’s 5k, race for the cure, donor dash and the bolder boulder each year. The passion never left me. I just needed some time to discover what that passion really meant to me.
After college I continued to run, however there was still something missing. My love for running hadn’t died but the love for myself dwindled for a bit. Whether you feel you lack in the personality department or the physical department of your being…sometimes you just feel insignificant. I was thrown into the real world without any real goals. For the first time, my life was impacting my running, not the other way around. I couldn’t even motivate myself to run.
After a few years of not running my best, it finally came back to me. I not only had a great boyfriend who boosted my self confidence, I experienced my first professional job in the sports industry. I worked for a trade magazine and expo for the Action, outdoor and bike industry. I, Becca Corona…for the first time, found where I was supposed to be. Of course I would be in this industry! Running and being active and outdoors has been my whole life! Boom! I was motivated again!
I thought to myself; “I can’t be part of this industry and not do anything, I HAVE to start running again!” With some motivation and some self understanding, I put on my big girl shoes and began to run during my lunch hour. Then I decided that 5k’s 10k’s and half marathons weren’t enough for me. With a new job title, I need something else to go along with who I am. I needed to be labeled as a Marathon Runner.
Now, it wasn’t just about being “labeled” as something. It was definitely more than that. I use to think that I would never do a marathon until I did two half marathons, both in which I trained so poorly for. The first half that I did was the lost Dutchman half in Arizona and the second was The Rock ‘N’ Roll Half in Las Vegas. These were both worth every mile but looking back, my heart wasn’t 100% into it. Otherwise I would have trained, become excited and finished feeling accomplished. Although I did feel accomplished, I could have done better. I was still figuring myself out at that point. It’s amazing how much self-discovery can change your attitude as an athlete. Just by knowing that I wanted to be a part of the outdoor/sports industry, I knew what I had to do to become the person I always knew I could be. And there it was, the registration for the Denver Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and $125 of money put down….just for a race.
My thoughts; “What the Fuck did I just sign up for?” followed by a “Hell Yeah, I can do this!” And so the training began. Six months of hard work, pain and sometimes laziness and then race day came. I had been mentally training myself for this race for SIX months! I knew that with each long run that I couldn’t complete, I wouldn’t be able to finish a marathon. My goal was to complete the race under six hours and depending on how I felt (which meant I would still push through the pain), I wouldn’t stop running.
I know a race is going to be good when I can already visualize the finish and feel emotional about it. If I get chills on my legs just thinking about that last kick during a run, I know that I was meant to participate in this race. There is nothing more satisfying than to feel something before it even happens. This is how sure I am about running. Just as long as it gives me this emotional and physical reaction, I will always know that it is meant for me.
Race day and I’m at the starting line. Here it is, the moment of truth. This will test how mentally strong I truly am. This is the moment where I truly discover what kind of a runner I am. I’m already getting emotional. For the first time, The National Anthem is literally giving me chills . What does this even mean? It meant I was in for a long 5+ hour ride and mental fuck.
The gun goes off and I begin my race with thousands of runners through the streets of Denver. I have never felt so clear and focused in my life. Mile 3 turned into 5 and turned into 10 and then somewhere between 10 and 12, shit was getting real. The half marathoners and marathoners split. This is when my mentality could make me or break me because there was a significant amount of people that split from us marathoners and the quiet, long road ahead was up to me to complete. The spirit and support around me kept pushing me though.
It didn’t matter where I was at, there was somebody cheering me on. I think that if most people knew how good it felt to runners to have support, more people would be willing to watch a race and help us runners get through another mile. Every time somebody cheers for me, I try to smile because they are taking the time to yell at me even though they don’t know me. They see something in my eyes and face that tells them that I need them and I see their admiration.
With each mile, I told myself that I needed to keep going. That is one thing that was constant in my brain when I ran this marathon. “You can do this,” “The memory of finishing this race will last longer than the pain,” “People are waiting to see you finish.” At this point, the pain doesn’t mean anything to me. It would hurt more to walk than to keep running because if I stop, my body will shut down and recognize it’s tiredness. I must keep going at this point, there isn’t another option.
Every few miles I was able to see my boyfriend’s handsome face, and I was brought back to reality again. The look on someone’s face that you care about when you are running a marathon is one that you can’t describe. They see your pain, but they feel your determination. That’s why they love you.
The deeper into the race I got, the deeper I dug into my brain. Miles 16-19 come and I’m ripping every insecurity and self doubt to shreds. None of my friends or family members have ran a marathon at this point, so I continue to push through. I drink Gatorade and water at every water station so that dehydration doesn’t make me crash. The last six miles has come and it seemed longer than the last 20. I. KEEP. GOING. This was it. Dig deep and push through. Who knows what I will think at the end, I just knew that I HAD to finish this race. My pinky toes felt like they were broken and my hips hurt but I didn’t care.
I can hear the screams and music ahead of me so I dominated up the hill just as I was taught to in my cross country days. Slowly but getting there. I’m in pain and I look miserable but not because I wanted to stop, but because this was it. The finish line butterflies are setting in. I finally hear my boyfriend yell, BECCA, SPRINT! Just as I told him to when I got to towards the end. THIS WAS IT. I buckled down and full on sprinted around the corner (my signature cheetah sprint), past every runner as I possibly could and through the finish line of the beginning of my newly found obsession.
I have always been one to be very emotional after races but this was different. There is no holding the tears back and your body is almost compulsing. I cried into my boyfriend’s arms. I cried because I was happy. I was so pleased with myself and drained. Every thought and emotion lingered on the surface during the last 6 miles so that the finish line and tears could scrape them off and wash them away. I cried even more when I saw my dad and sister. My dad has always been a huge advocate of my running career and I think he was even more proud of me at that moment than he was when I graduated college.
I received my first marathon medal and I even finished just under 5 hours. And so, an obsession with marathons began. Two marathons later, I almost have the bragging rights of saying I’m a marathoner.