Over the next 23 weeks I will be training for my fourth marathon.  With that said, below is my account of that experience and the trials and tribulations that goes into training for such a long race.  My hope is to continue to share my passion for this sport with my fellow runners and to share what really goes into training for a marathon with my fellow non runners.  Keeping that in mind, this won’t just be my account of how I physically feel on a weekly basis but also what really goes on in my mind during this training period. I’ll also be introducing a lot of cross training and my experience with other sports such as yoga, gymnastics, mountain biking and weight training.  Here it goes, Welcome to my insanity!

Week 1 (February 9th, 2015)

Easy peasy! I haven’t committed to running in months and this week was a reminder of why I love to run in the first place.  Though I am starting off with the smaller runs, I get the runner’s high no matter what.  I am reminded that in order for me to be a happier person, I must remain active.  My mind is clear, my body is strong and everyone else around me appreciates my patience. My body hurt as it always does when I begin to train but overall I felt fantastic.  I can always tell when my race is going to be good if I get chills just thinking about it and get emotional just thinking about crossing that finish line – yes, running is an emotional thing for me.  It is my release of everything.  For the first time in nearly 13 years, I did the video gate analysis.  They have this at various running stores where they literally video tape your form, foot placement and stride when you run so that they can find the proper shoe for you.  The last time I did this, I found the running shoe that I’ve stuck with since I was a Sophmore in High school.  Feeling like I needed a fresh start, I tried it out.  It wasn’t as special of an experience as I thought it would be.  The sales person just wanted to sell me some inserts and bring me to the $120 pair of running shoes that I don’t typically run in and proceeded to tell me that I have wide feet…??? hmmm, that’s new.  I don’t mean to be cocky, but I call bullshit on all of it.  Instead I went online and bought the brand and style I’ve been running in for $40! I know that eventually they will probably phase these out, but until then, I give my middle finger to the overpriced, overly confident pieces of material they call running shoes.  I’m not paying more money just “to look cute.”  I’m paying money to rely on something that will allow me to burn through the miles.

Physically: Body is tight but I’ve been lifting prior to my training and I gotta say that I’m happy with my squirt guns and stomach! Not only do they feel strong but they are looking stronger too.  I always forget how hungry running makes me….ALL THE TIME! This week, wings were my craving and lots of water.

Week 2 (February 16, 2015)

This week was an odd week because the Colorado snow had finally come.  I’ve always been a fair weather runner and almost have always hated running in the snow.  This year is different.  I’m not sure if my dedication was higher, if I was better prepared clothing wise or if it was the fact that I ran with my dog but running in the snow wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Running with my dog was a blast.  To see how excited he is when he bounds through the pillows of snow is worth every shiver.  Instead of running on Saturday like I was suppose to, I went snowboarding instead and experienced some awesome pow! Wore me out like running has never done, so it was a workout indeed.  Though it hurts like hell when I eat shit, I find that breathing in the high altitude and flexing my legs is helping me so that when I come down to lower elevation, running for 1-2 hours is a piece of cake.  This week I was able to get a general physical which made me pretty excited.  There’s just something about getting a full body checkup that eases my mind going into this 5 month health hiatus.  I guess I’m really an adult now because having benefits through work is truly a reward.  Something that I did notice is that I am in a better mood if I run.  People tend to piss me off less.  Something that I truly love about running is that 1) it is my time and I don’t have to focus on anyone but myself….it really gives me a break from caring about the stupid crap I worry about and 2) I am getting fit while releasing all the stress and bullshit.  My hope for this next week is to continue to be consistent and motivated.

Week 3 (February 23, 2015)

This week was a bit of a pain in the ass for me.  I ended up catching a cold towards the end of the week which meant my mind and body were exhausted leading up to and proceeding my illness.  Being sick is an athlete’s worst nightmare because sometimes it’s just not that easy to push through the heavy lungs, snot and headaches.  I have no issues running in the snow but running in the cold winter while sick is annoying, so I had to switch things up a bit.  Needless to say, I was able to incorporate yoga into one of my cross training days.  My goal is to use yoga to become more flexible, stronger and stress free.  As much as running relieves my stress, yoga definitely helps me to keep my focus and allows me to be present.  The day after I felt sore but loose at the same time.  I found a pinterest quote that says; “you know you’re a runner when you see another person running and get jealous.” This is how I feel when I’m sick and my body needs rest.  “Ugh, bitch! I’m supposed to be running and playing outside.” A little bit of a boring post but the sky is gloomy and so is my attitude, which means, I better shape up and look forward to the next week.

**Week 4 (March 2, 2015) **

This week went by rather quickly.  Though I was recovering from a minor cold, I ended up feeling like a rock star by the end of the week.  I want to highlight my longest run so far, which is 6 miles I ran this weekend.  A bit of a rough start but I was reminded that once I push past the threshold, I am able to complete the run.  Initially I felt like a fucking elephant was sitting on my shoulders and my legs were cemented into the ground but eventually I got into the zone and the two miles turned into a solid six. On the plus side, I was able to use my new Garmin forerunner watch which really breaks down my mile patterns.  As a bit of a motivator, I went and saw the movie McFarland USA which recognizes the success and growth of a group of teenage boys that join a cross country team.  This movie, most importantly highlights the reality of the life in one of the poorest cities in the U.S and struggles that Mexicans faced and continue to face on a daily basis.  Something that really hit home for me was how much heart one needs to have in order to become a distance runner.  Read my post about how running has affected me in the realm of having heart for everything that I do.  This next week, I will be incorporating some gymnastics and flexibility exercises into my cross training.  I will also be focusing more on the foods I eat and how often I need to load up.

Physically: I feel much more mentally strong than I do physically which is great because my body will catch up if I keep up my mental  momentum.  This week was the first time that I looked into calorie intake and the importance of how much I should be taking in a day.  I’ve never been one to pay any attention to calories etc. because I’ve never really had to.  However, the older I get, the harder it is for me to run when I haven’t had enough calories, proteins etc. I feel it so much more now and it makes running almost impossible when I’m not careful.  Though I won’t be counting my calories, I am going to eat more frequently etc to see how much of a minor dietary change influences how I feel during my runs.

Week 5 (March 9, 2015)

“Here comes the sun!” Now that it is March, the sun is shining, we are receiving about 70 degree weather and I smell like running shoes and B.O 90% of the time and I’m okay with it!  This week was pretty fabulous as I love running in nice weather.  Again, I was able to get my ass out of bed sat morning and run my longest run in preparation for St. Patrick’s day celebrations.  This week I went to open gym at a gymnastics/cheer gym and had the chance to practice my back tuck, and threw in some stunting with a few CU alumni cheerleaders.  Though I was sore for a few days from doing back tuck after back tuck after back tuck, yoga really helped me stretch out the soreness.  It is amazing how much it helped me recover.  The two combined is a surprisingly good way to cross train for a marathon.  I’ve never felt this strong and I hope I continue to feel even stronger.  I want to highlight the gymnastic side of this week.  My goal for the past few years is to do a back flip and I finally feel like I am accomplishing it.  I have mad respect for gymnasts.  They are, in my opinion, one of the strongest of all athletes.  Through the many gymnastic classes and lessons I’ve taken, I realize that it actually has a lot in common with running…at least on the mental side of the sport.  In order to participate in both sports, you must have the mental strength to accomplish what you are doing.  If you doubt yourself, it makes it that much harder to proceed.  This probably is across the board with all sports but I love the correlation between the two.  My hope is that the two build my mental strength for the other and that I continue to explore what my body has not been able to do athletically.  Something that I need to work on is buying stronger deodorant, eating more frequently throughout the day, and drinking more water now that I am sweating much more than usual.

Week 6 (March 16, 2015)

A lot of people think that runners don’t have to pay too much attention to their bodies whether it be to their weight or what they put in their bodies.  I’ve had people tell me that I could eat whatever I want because I burn it off when I run.  This is so far from the truth.  I have to pay attention to the foods that I eat because, well, a basket of french fries and some chicken strips vs a well balanced meal with greens, meats and starches has a huge impact on my performance and the nutrients my muscles need.  Granted, I make sure I allow myself to indulge in the wonderful world of having an appetite of a teenage boy, but I also make sure I am listening to my body.  This week my body told me that; 1) I am not eating enough to replace all of the calories that I am burning off and 2) The food that I am eating isn’t “filling in the holes” in my diet.  One of my body goals for this year is to build up my upper body strength.  I’ve had 13+ years to develop the muscles in my legs but haven’t paid much attention to my upper body as a part of my strength as a whole.  Since I am incorporating gymnastics in my training regimen, upper body strength is required….especially for a back tuck (one of my NYE resolutions).  It has been very difficult for me to gain that upper body strength.  The little amount of lifting that I do is actually giving me leaner muscle vs the bulkier muscle that I want.  My boyfriend (jokingly and not maliciously) says that I “have the legs of a thoroughbred.” Ha, it’s true.  Therefore, I want to increase the amount of food (mostly the protein) that I am eating so that I can gain the muscles in my arms.  I’ve been told that I MUST eat almost twice as much as I am eating now to actually gain the muscle.  This might sound glorious or easy to those trying to lose weight, but for a runner trying to build muscle, I actually have to stuff my face silly.  My goal for this next week is to investigate further into the foods necessary for muscle building and foods that will fuel me during my long runs.

Week 7 (March 23, 2015)

I almost don’t remember this week! It came and went and nothing special happened.  I did, however, get myself out on a trail run with a little bit of an elevation gain.  I feel myself getting stronger and more confident with my runs but I really need to get in some elevation.  The marathon I am going to run starts in higher elevation and even though it is downhill, my lungs and body will appreciate the preparation.  I also need to run on some downhills and incorporate speed workouts.  This week, I did manage to eat more protein and listen to my body when it is hungry.  My lunches have been huge and I’ve made sure to eat something when I feel the hunger coming on.  This has made a big difference in my energy for later in the day.  Something that I’m learning from this training experience is that there is always something that I can improve.  I don’t feel like I am lacking in any way but I do take these areas of improvement to be opportunities to learn something new.  To push myself in multiple sports is an assessment of my mental strength and physical abilities.  I gain the confidence each time I perform.  This week I got in some spring snowboarding and it was probably one my most enjoyable days I’ve had this season.  Instead of feeling the pressure to keep up with people, I took my time to enjoy my surroundings.  I’ve learned that taking the time to play in the sports that you like allows you to appreciate what you are doing so much more.  Going at my own pace, going where I want to go and accepting where I am at has been key to my success as a distance runner.  At the end of the day, I do what I do for one person.  Next week, I will face the mini beast we call the half marathon…

Week 8 (March 30, 2015)

Nothing screams distance runner like wanting to shit your pants in the middle of a run and not being able to walk the next day.  This week was a reminder of why it is so important to train, no matter what shape I am in.  I was lucky enough to receive a free registration for a half marathon.  Those of you that race know how much of a lifesaver that is.  I have only trained up to 8 miles at this point, so I felt pretty good up til 8 miles.  I wanted to run a half marathon earlier in training because I wanted to see where I was at physically and mentally.  Where my body lacked in speed and strength, my mind made up for in perseverance.  THIS is the reason why I love to run so much.  The mind can do amazing things when you train it to do them.  After 13 years of running, 13 miles is suddenly not that scary or long.  Yes, I was in pain and Yes, I wanted to punch the person next to me in the face.  However, with each race, I get stronger and more prepared for the next one.  This time, I wasn’t clueless as to how my body would feel.  As a seasoned runner, I am finally grasping the reality that I need to put in the miles for a strenuous race.  I would recommend for all of you to always prepare for a race by training.  Some people are lucky and can get away with doing the minimum and still kick ass.  If you are planning on running a race that is out of your comfort zone and is higher in mileage, make sure you train; your body will thank you later.  Your risk of injury will decrease.  That is a big one for me.  I may have been able to get away with it 3 years ago, but my risk of injury is higher the older I get.  Training will take me farther mentally and physically.

Highlight: While I was lining up at the start line, I ran into a college friend who was on the cross country team with me (for about a week because I quit).  This girl took third in the overall race! It was such an inspiration to me.  Seeing her run and keep up with the guys made me want to train harder and run faster.  The closest that I’ve gone to winning anything was being able to go to state my Junior year of High School.  I can’t help but wonder, will I ever win a race? Am I capable of pushing myself to that level? Can training get me there? When I was younger, the successes of other runners really got to my own personal growth and success.  Today, I see their successes as inspiration.  A chance to form a goal.  They are the true heroes in my crazy world.

Week 9 (April 6, 2015)

A friend of mine gave me a great piece of advice this week.  Though the initial conversation wasn’t applied to my training experience, I feel that it is on point when encountering those bumps in the road…no matter what you are doing in your life.  “No expectation, no frustration” was what she told me.  Often times when I expect something to come out of a situation, the outcome isn’t what I intended.  Frustration builds and I want to give up on something that I valued.  Knowing that with every run, race and workout, I cannot expect my body to feel a certain way.  As long as I know this, the surprise of tight hips, sore ankles or heavy legs won’t be as bad.  The bipolar weather won’t get in my way either.  Ultimately, this week I expected to feel like the others.  Energized and rejuvenated from each run and workout.  I didn’t run super hard during the week and because of timing, I had to rearrange days and ease up on the mileage.  I’ve forgotten how much sleep I really need after really long runs and I forgot how drastically my mood changes when I don’t exercise.  Running is what keeps me going.  It is like a drug.  It puts me in a good mood and without it, I am irritated with people and feel weak.  Last week I was reminded of the fact that I needed to put in the miles to progress.  This week I am reminded how running effects every area of my life now.  It really is a lifestyle.

Week 10 (April 13, 2015)

Sometimes, the weeks slip by and I don’t remember what I did or where I went.  This is a true sign that my mind hasn’t been truly committed to training…

Week 11 ( April 20, 2015)

A lot of people who don’t run think that running comes so easy to me.  With that comes the assumption that I don’t struggle even though I am in shape.  This is far from the truth and the struggle is real.  I hit my wall this week when I attempted my long run.  Poor planning, lack of sleep and lack of motivation got to my head.  Along with the weather fluctuating so much, my body is tired.  I was reminded this week that it is ok to take breaks.  I started my long run too late which caused stress in knowing that I had limited time during the day.  Sometimes, I just want to sleep in without having to pound the pavement and not have to postpone my chance to dress up and put on makeup.  Training for a marathon is a life commitment.  One that I struggle with when the simplest of tasks are pushed aside.  Being able to feel clean and ready for the day is huge because most of the time is spent in work clothes or running attire.  I need that extra time to pamper myself every once in a while.  I didn’t even get half way through my long run this week.   I saw the time, the things I needed to do and the long road and 10+ miles ahead of me and threw in the towel.  This is hard for a long distance runner.  Even though this isn’t the race, it is a defeating moment.  It almost feels like a failure because we know that the miles will continue to grow as the weeks go on.  It doesn’t get easier.  It’s like being behind in school.  You miss one day of class and it’s one extra day you’ll have to catch up on.  However, the bright side to this situation is that I can rely on those who know me best.  I had to call someone to reassure me that it was ok to shorten my run that day.  I needed to hear that all athletes hit that wall.  Though it is hard to stay positive and motivated, I need to read the signs that are slowing me down.  The universe and my body are telling me something.

Week 12 (April 27, 2015)

Another tough week this was.  As with all things in life, nobody can get you out of a rut and nobody can motivate you.  I was able to go on my long run but with struggle.  I am hoping as with all of my runs, the struggle will help me get stronger.  I was able to get in some mountain biking this week.  I was expecting more struggle but I was surprisingly strong.  Sometimes I do not see my progress during training because the accomplishment is finishing the race…not necessarily the training.  Perhaps this is another reason why we cross train – to see other outcomes.  Aside from the obvious benefits of cross training, it’s good to switch things up as far as working out goes.  Ultimately, if I do the same routine every week, I become bored.  Mountain biking is hard for me (mostly the uphill).  I would much rather run uphill than slowly maneuver my bike up a mountain.  I know, I know – this is what the gears are for but even when used…running is much quicker.  Therefore, it is a great workout that helps strengthen my legs.  This was probably the first time that I went on the first ride of the season while I am in the best shape of my life.  Talk about a difference in the way I feel.  Staying active is vital when incorporating new activities in my routine.  Although running will always be my main sport, seeing my progress in other sports has helped me regain the confidence and motivation needed to hit the miles again.

Week 13 (May 4, 2015)

I watched a TED talk video recently that discussed the psychological power of keeping your goals to yourself (you can find the link to it at the end of this post).  The message of this video deeply resonated with me.  Often times I have an urge to share a goal of mine (specifically running related) on social media.  We all know that most of the time, we are all just bragging on Facebook, Instagram etc.  However, this video suggests that talking about your goals may not allow you to reach them.  You are gaining the satisfaction by speaking about it which replaces the satisfaction of actually accomplishing it.  This week was a perfect example of that.  There were multiple factors that gave me a difficult time in my long run.  To start, I began on one of the rainiest days and continued running in the downpour to reach a lame 9 miles.  My knees were tight and locked, my clothes were drenched and overall I felt like shit.  I typically hit my wall emotionally and physically at this point in training.  It’s such a disappointment to know that something I was once capable of is further out of my reach than I expected.  Anyone can sign up and compete in a marathon, but it takes a whole other level of commitment for those who plan to train for one.

Keep your goals to yourself: http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_keep_your_goals_to_yourself?language=en

Week 14 – 15 (May 11 – May 24, 2015)

According to Wikipedia, Training is “teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies.” Perhaps I am getting too cocky going into marathon training when I think I know it all.  I am realizing now that there is always more to learn no matter how experienced you are.  I started out excited and ready for anything and have reached a point of; “why the hell am I doing this?” To train for a marathon, one must change their lifestyle, their eating habits, their schedules, their mentality, and their goals.  Everything goes into the preparation for one day of your life.  As with a lot of things, I don’t want to take the time to prepare for that one day.  The miles needed to complete the race keeps growing, my planning has been poor and most of all my nutrition and the importance that I place on it has been put on the back burner.  I am only 27 years old but as with every athlete and every age, the foods needed to fuel my body have increased.  I know I can keep going but my body is telling me that I haven’t prepared it enough to continue.  My legs wouldn’t be as tight and I wouldn’t feel like I was going to pass out after each run.  A harsh reality that I am facing – I cannot accomplish what I want to do unless I am 100% committed to it.  Signing up for the race is no longer a valid sign of commitment. I do not want to feel like how I did after my lame and slow 15 miles I did.  It would be a waste of a marathon if I allow myself to get to that point.  It is too dangerous.  Tingling face, nauseated stomach and delusion are all signs that I’m not fully committed.  I may have once been able to run on so little but my body is the body of an adult, not a teenager.  I must realize that I am not invincible, I am human.  To call myself an athlete means that I not only take care of my mind but my body – the vessel in which allows me to be an athlete.

Week 16 – 19 (May 25th – June 21, 2015)

I can’t believe it has been about a month since I’ve reflected on my training progress.  A lot of transformation within myself has happened in the past few weeks and yet it seems like a blur.  From accepting my struggles as an athlete to a traumatic experience facing a mountain lion, I must say that I feel like a different person. It is amazing what happens when I allow myself to slow down and take the steps needed to succeed or progress.  It is amazing how life bitch slaps you a few times in order to make you realize your full potential.  Sometimes its necessary for me so that I can realize how valuable it is to breath, to run, and to have a body that carries who I am.  This is what running does for me.  It not only shapes who I am but it makes me evaluate and see situations in ways that I may not have seen before.  My longest run has been a shocking and long 20 miles but I did it.  I am only three weeks from my marathon.  I’m nervous and scared but excited and hopeful.  I’m beginning to learn that I musn’t focus too much on the mileage it takes to complete a marathon but more on the steps and journey I need to take to get there.  I’m realizing that it isn’t a true victory until I put in the work without short cuts. We as humans aren’t invincible.  This is scary as it puts us in a position of being delicate but it also makes everything we do so real.  That’s really what I aim for in such a long race and what I aim for in life in general.  The realness to every ache, pain and breath that I take means that I’m still alive.

Week 20 (June 22nd – June 28th, 2015)

You know that feeling of taking your last big exam before you graduate? and then you take it and ace it.  That’s kinda how I felt about my longest run this week.  A whopping 21 miles was the cherry on top of a training sundae.  Though I’m not finished yet, I feel accomplished.  This is the longest and the most that I’ve trained for a marathon.  Which means two things; 1) I am more prepared 2) I am getting stronger mentally.  At one point, I really just wanted to be done and 21 miles was not feasible.  For some reason, my body and mind finally worked together and got me through the big chunk of my training program.  People don’t realize how much planning goes into marathon training. You aren’t just running, you are altering your whole life for this one race.  Days before my long weekend runs are crucial to how I feel when I actually do the long run.  Friday nights are no longer consumed by alcohol, junk food and staying up late with friends. Being the DD is a delight because I know that my run will be glorious.  As runners, we adapt and it’s always a process to get to the point where mileage no longer matters.  A friend asked me a very important question this weekend.  She asked; “what do you think about when you run? and how do you not get bored?” Running may be one of the most boring sports to watch but when you’re in it, you think about everything.  I argue with myself, I work out issues that have been lingering, I think about my family, my friends, food, songs and my dog.  Anything and everything pops up.  I guess that’s why I am so addicted to it.  It’s such a release.  If I think about everything all at once when I’m running, I have clarity and room for those that need me to be present.  My goal for this week is to be present in everything that I do.  Enjoying each run until race day is crucial.

Week 21 (June 29th – July 5th, 2015)

This week I ran my fourth half marathon.  I was only supposed to run 10 miles but what’s another 3? This is how I know my perspective has changed when it comes to mileage and races.  What was once a big deal to me when I first started running and when I first started training is now minimal.  My mentality about almost everything in my life has changed.  I truly believe that running long distances helps build a more mentally stable person.  Sure, I have my times of doubt and hating the run.  But in the end, I am able to work through situations quicker and more efficiently.  My half marathon was in Steamboat Springs.  I forgot my headphones and wasn’t able to eat a big breakfast but I somehow managed to get through it.  There were times of struggle looking down at my watch and seeing how far away from 13 miles I was.  However, something happens along the way during a race.  I almost don’t give a shit about anyone or anything but cared about everything at the same time.  With each run I become more raw with myself.  I am forced to face truths about myself that are undoubtedly too real and personal to share with others.  As difficult as it can be, each step towards the finish line has a point.  Each minute, hour and mile shows me my purpose.  Whether I am supposed to be in that race at that very moment or begin a new project or venture, I find clarity in the fog through running.  I have two weeks until my fourth marathon.  I’m nervous, excited, proud and anxious.  I can’t predict my time or the weather but I do know that these next couple of weeks is my last kick.  I gotta dig deep, hold on and focus til I reach the end.

Week 22 (July 6th – July 12th, 2015)

“I love the person I’ve become because I fought to become her. I am a runner” – unknown

Runners are fighters.  From the outside, we make running look easy and it’s quite boring to watch for those who aren’t interested.  What I think most people don’t know is that we are constantly at war with our minds.  Our minds basically decide our performance and that is a hard thing to control.  Once we get past that initial obstacle of feeling weak, a lot of great things happen and the miles no longer matter.  This week I lifted and completed my last long (ish) run until the big race.  This week, I’m thankful for my mind and the strength that I built.  What I do may not get me money or be labeled as an “action/extreme sport” but it has formed the fighter within me.  It’s the one thing that I can be cocky about and I’m going to own it. I am looking forward to race day.  I can smell the adrenaline and taste the finish line.  I can’t wait for the tears of satisfaction.

Week 23 (July 13th – July 18th, 2015)

“What if I miss a run? What if I don’t sleep? I’m not ready. I am ready. 6 am is a joke. 3 am is worse. Will this day ever come?” So many things ran through my head during this week.  I couldn’t focus on anything else.  Is this really it before race day? I didn’t run much and had a lot on my plate this week.  Weeks and months of training all of a sudden seem like nothing to me.  I didn’t have any expectations going into this week or race.  People would ask me questions and talk to me but my mind was focused on finishing the race.  I trained for 5 months and all of a sudden I must prepare for what I was preparing for.  My packet was picked up in beautiful Golden, CO; I couldn’t have asked for a better scene to pump me up.  This week was boring and anxious all at the same time.  It may not seem like it but there are so many ways I could fuck myself over prior to my race.  Food is no longer about taste or luxury, it’s a necessity and I better eat right, otherwise I’ll be running on nothing.  Sleep isn’t just crucial the day before the race.  The two nights before must be taken seriously as a bad night’s sleep always carries over to the next day. Preparation of morning breakfast and what to bring and wear to the start line must be decided and laid out before I walk out the door.  I prepare myself and my items so that the only thinking I have to do when I wake up is getting to the starting line.  “Don’t think about how many hours of sleep you’ll get, don’t worry about appearance, remember to respect and honor yourself on race day. You’ve worked your ass off for this moment and 98% of people you know, couldn’t do what you are about to do.” Onward to the 4-5 hour mental fuck I’m about to embark on…

Race Day (July 19th, 2015)

I don’t panic but my stomach is in my uterus.  9 pm was my bedtime but I don’t even count how many hours of sleep I got.  It didn’t matter at this point.  It’s still dark out and I’m surrounded by people who are just as tired and ready as I am.  Everyone I know is still asleep and in 3 hours, I must start the race.  Without digging too deep into every mile of this race and bore you with a runner’s details, I want to highlight what makes training for 5 months worth every mile, sweat and tear;

The first word that comes to my mind when I think about this whole experience is struggle.  As per usual, I’ve taken myself through a slew of emotions and trials to get to this race.  From my body rejecting my mind to maintaining pride, I’ve been through it all.  Though I’ve only run 4 marathons, I’ve learned from each of them.  This time I’ve learned that in order to achieve personal greatness, I not only should listen to my body but to do things for me and nobody else.  I don’t run for time, to compete with my fellow runners or to achieve a certain body.  I run because it keeps me whole. Everything is a struggle if I make it one.  Sometimes, one situation is more difficult than others.  As with running, there are some miles that will always be more strenuous. It’s hard not to think about everything that went on in my life during these past months of training.  I’ve transformed.  I’ve learned that I can’t always expect things from others, that an end goal doesn’t just happen over night, that giving myself time whether that be to heal or to build strength is always necessary and the one that resonates with me the most is that my happiness is achieved when I’m not focused or worried about what everyone else is doing. This was my first marathon that I trained my hardest for.  I wish I could say that it was as easy as following a routine but then everyone would be able to run a marathon.

I pour myself into each mile and minute that I’m on the course.  Running this marathon wasn’t just a testament of accomplishing another strenuous race.  It was my opportunity to prove to myself that I’m still devoted to me.  Perhaps it’s strange to even question one’s devotion to self but in this day and age, it’s so easy for me to get caught up in everyone else’s bullshit and forget about the things that are important to me.  The reality outside of my running world is that I’m not rich, I don’t obtain a fancy degree in something, I’m 27 and like most of my peers live with parents.  Often times, I don’t know what my next step will be career wise but something that always remains true is that running makes me feel like the next big success is waiting for me.  I feel my greatness and other people have recognized it too.  I don’t think that I’m better than anyone else but I know that there is a big piece of pie out there for waiting for me to devour it.  Running this marathon has made that possible.

I gained confidence at the start and left the bullshit at the finish line.  That’s how much a race effects me.  Training has carried me to be more successful at work, dieting correctly has allowed me to feel better and focusing on building my mental strength has steered my attention to the person that deserves it the most.

This race was beautiful.  I was surrounded by trees in Evergreen, CO and it was mostly downhill.  It was cold for the first ten minutes and my body was warmed from the rising sun and happiness.  I kept a pace that felt great and cried when I saw my boyfriend and his mom.  The halfway point was a struggle for me.  Being only halfway means that I have a few more hours of running and 13 more miles to go.  It didn’t matter though. This race was about the journey and I’ve done this just two weeks prior.  I felt natural and felt like I was exactly where I should be.  What’s so cool about being where I was is that I got myself there.  Nobody told me to train up to 21 miles or to give up drinking alcohol.  I did this, every step of the way.  After I climbed to my next big hurdle (being the 17th mile) I was faced with another challenge. 9 miles is still far away from finishing but also nothing compared to what has already been accomplished. Every water station was harder to reach and was needed a lot more at this point.  We were directly in the sun and this is when I began to truly have a conversation with myself. “You can do this, just keep fighting,” “do not disappoint yourself,” “do not give into the others that are stopping to walk,” “you didn’t train for nothing.”  And then at mile 20 or 21 a sign was posted on the side of the road saying; “Pain is temporary but accomplishment is forever.” Yes. It truly is.  My legs hurt but my pride knew that I carried myself 20 miles so far without stopping to walk.  Myself and two other women kept passing each other back and forth for a while.  Eventually they walked and got their second wind.  Normally I would be bothered by the fact that they ended up in front of me but this wasn’t about them.  I didn’t stop.  I could see and hear the finish line.  I approach the corner and that was it.  Chills approached and tears were on their way and just like that; I sprinted in as if the 26 miles were nothing.  Every bit of strength in me poured out and was slathered across the finish line. I let it all go and here I am being able to write about it. For me.

With each marathon, I learn something new about myself and I become a different person. To tell myself over and over again for 4+ hours straight that I can keep going is what success is to me.  I may not be the richest, most intelligent or most beautiful person…but I have this moment that is nearly indescribable. 23 weeks of training and now I almost don’t know what to do with myself.  I’m beginning to taste the next marathon but as was learned from this one; it is a journey and if it is meant to be, I’m ready for a new lesson and new me.