Dear 36th Annual Marine Corps Marathon,
It’s been a long journey to get to you.
A couple of years ago, I found myself unhappy with my lack of energy and my semi-addiction to diet coke. I was unmotivated to move. Days at my desk were spent snacking. Evenings were spent having dinner or drinks with friends. I’d occasionally get in a strength workout here and there, but no cardio and nothing consistent.
So what did I do to motivate myself? I signed up for my first race. But, I didn’t just sign up for any race; I signed up for a 10-miler. I was going to do it big! That first race was an eye-opener. I thought I’d trained. I thought I was prepared. I wasn’t. I burned out somewhere around mile 7 and hated anything that required me to move my legs for the next two days.
But, that first 10-miler in 2010 was the opening I needed into a new hobby. Distance running. I started researching training plans and blocking out my schedule to accommodate training days. Runner’s World magazine became my best friend. I learned what a Yasso 800 is. I got frustrated when I was short of breath after only 2 miles. I discovered the runner’s high and I never wanted it to go away.
I ran my first half marathon in February 2011. I felt a sense accomplishment just for finishing, but I knew deep down I could do better. I signed up for more races. I found the best run buddies I could ask for. I became addicted to running. I ran the same 10-miler in 2011 and PR’d the crap outta that race.
I started training with Coach Bridget and the Pacers Distance Training group. I joined Twitter where I found a large number of athletes who are incredibly supportive. I started blogging with my sister. And I signed up for A MARATHON.
What was I thinking? What possessed me to sign up for you, the Marine Corps Marathon?? (Besides the obvious: Marines.) I’m still not sure if I was completely sane when I decided, “Oh sure, 26.2 miles. No problem.”
But, guess what? Those great run buddies and my terrific friends cheered me on! They fully supported my rash decision. I mean, sure, some of them called me crazy, but let’s be fair: TWENTY SIX MILES. I guess you could say I wanted a challenge. I guess you could say I wanted to be part of an elite group of people who have put it all on the line for the right to wear the 26.2 with pride.
I didn’t start my marathon training with the highest of confidence. I’m not the fastest rabbit in the bunch. I am, however, motivated. I put in the time. I ran my tempos on Mondays, my speed work on Wednesdays. Long runs were saved for weekends, when I could put in the time and effort. I learned that I do have the stamina to stay on my feet, and moving, for over four hours. I learned that there are good runs and bad runs, long runs and short. I learned that a 12:30 minute per mile is still a mile. Miles are not given. They’re earned.
I also learned that I can be reckless with my body and set my training back – right in the middle of the biggest training weeks. I leaned on my run buddies and friends for support. Once the orthopedist cleared me, I was back on my feet. I breathed a sigh of relief. My friends did, too.
They’re making signs. My friends are going to get up early and stand on the sidelines to cheer for me… and to cheer for complete strangers. Because that’s the kind of people my friends are.
My best run buddy, Carly, is going to find me around mile 23 and run it in with me. She’s going to have to bring tissues, because I am seriously going to start bawling when I see her. She’s been running right by my side throughout my training, shaking her booty and singing at me.
Tonight is the eve of my very first marathon. Tomorrow morning, I’ll lace up my shoes, take a deep breath, and start running. And I won’t stop for 26.2 miles. I’m ready. I’m going to run my race at my pace and look for those awesome supporters I call my friends.
I don’t have a time goal for you tomorrow. My only goal is simple: FINISH. I’m sure you understand, MCM. You’ve been around for quite some time. You’re the “People’s Marathon”. You’ve seen thousands of people make this same journey. You’ve seen thousands of people put their all into your 26.2 miles. You’re going to see my all tomorrow.
Be prepared. I’m coming for you.