I’ve always admired marathoners. The idea of going out and running 26.2 miles- on purpose, no less- seemed like the ultimate accomplishment. When Oprah went out the year she turned 40 and ran Chicago, I was like yes! That is badass!
I started running in my mid-twenties (excluding a less than stellar season of cross country in the 8th grade.) Over the years, two of my cousins completed their own marathons, so I figured I had at least a shot at it….maybe it’s in our genes, right? But in roughly fifteen years of running, I’ve done mostly 5k races, five miles, and my longest race, one half marathon in 2013.
I finally signed up for the Columbus Marathon in 2016. It’s reputed to be a great course for a first-timer- not too hilly- and very well organized. I was ready! I signed up in February. The race was in October. Plenty of time! I ordered the training t-shirt and told all my friends this was the year. I started a training plan that was pretty intense, but I figured that’s what you had to do– step it up quick.
A month or two later, I found myself in a boot with a tibial stress fracture. I was told there wouldn’t be time to prepare for a marathon by the time my leg fully healed. I was devastated. I sold my bib to a friend of a friend and spent weeks moping about how I blew it.
Fast forward to January of this year. I hadn’t run in months, and when I did it was rarely more than three miles. I was in a major slump. I described this to one of my running friends over lunch one day and her advice surprised me.
Sign up for Columbus this year, she said. You have plenty of time to build a base and prepare. You can do it! We looked up the race online. Turns out this is the 40th anniversary of the marathon. It’s also my 40th year on this earth. Just like it was Oprah’s 40th year when she ran her marathon. 40-40-40. Trifecta. I took it as a sign.
It didn’t hurt that my cousin ran the Boston Marathon this year for the first time. Her success inspired me to keep trying. I signed up for Columbus and was given access to the Run Coach app on my phone, which gives me my training plan day by day so I can get in shape the right way…at my own pace, building up slowly to avoid injuries.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve missed some workouts. I’ve struggled with some. I’ve had days when I was ready to quit. But my running friends simply won’t allow it. I message them when things are bad, and they talk me through it. I know they won’t let me fail.
I’ll probably still have doubts about this until the race actually gets here. Some days I’m excited about it, others I’m terrified. I have no idea if I can actually pull this off. I just know that I have to try. If I only do one full marathon in my lifetime, it will be enough to know that I accomplished a dream.
Besides, I’ve already decided on a commemorative tattoo. 😉
*In honor of Taylor Ceepo, who sadly passed away during the Cleveland Marathon last week. Rest in peace Taylor. Love and prayers to the Ceepo family. ❤