Thursday, June 6, 2013

26.2: The Road Ahead

As a runner, I feel like I'm never completely satisfied. I'm always reaching for a new goal, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. Yesterday was National Running Day, and while I hate to admit I didn't run, I did do something even more monumental (in my opinion.) I did something I would not have even considered two years ago when I first started running. I decided to go out on a limb and reach further than I've ever reached before. 

I stepped out of my comfort zone, as a runner, and signed up for my first marathon. 

That's right, people, on December 7th I will be running A FULL MARATHON!!! 26.2 MILES! The longest distance I've ever run is 13.1. And sometimes there are days when just 6 miles seems long. I'm not going to wuss out, though. I'll probably complain along the way, but I won't give up. Promise. 

Over the past year I've come in contact with a lot of inspiring runners via Twitter, who I can honestly give credit to for helping me take this leap. It wasn't until I started reading stories/blogs/tweets about other runners taking on this 26.2 mile adventure that I thought I could do it. And wanted to do it. 

I had been contemplating running a marathon for awhile. Originally, I told myself I wanted to run one for the same reason I ran my first half: Just so I could say that I did - to cross it off a list. But within the past few months my thought process changed. I didn't just sign up to say "I ran a marathon," I did so because I'm confident that I can. Because I legitimately WANT to. And that's a good feeling.

Registering was the first step I needed in order to commit. And that took FOREVER. I sat at my computer for nearly an hour debating on whether or not to do it. The fact that capacity for the race was already at 85% made me even more nervous. Finally, something just clicked. I thought, "You said if you ran a marathon you wanted to do it before you were 30. If you don't sign up are you going to regret it?" And the answer was yes. (Seriously, was nearly crying at this point.) That's when my decision was made. 

What I'm racing for: 

I signed up for St. Jude Memphis Marathon on December 7th. Not only is it a flat course (yay!), but I registered as a St. Jude Hero, which means I will be raising money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital prior to race day! I'm really excited about participating in this. Once I receive my username and password I will be able to activate my personal fundraising website and start raising money. I'll go ahead and say you can expect lots of tweets/posts about this in the upcoming future. And I hope some of you are able to donate! These kids are the true heroes, and I want to do all I can to help them. This race will be about two things: accomplishing something I never thought I would do, and running for someone other than myself - these kids. Every other race I've ever signed up for has been all about me. This is a selfless race. I have to remind myself that no matter what kind of physical and mental pain I might go through during those 26.2 miles, it's nothing compared to what those kids have gone through - sitting in those hospital beds.


1st step: sign up.
2nd step: make a training plan. 

Luckily, I don't have to worry much about that. I'm pretty sure the only reason I'm still running, and have improved with my running, is because of my husband. He was there for my very first race (a local 10k) and from every race then on out. He ran right beside me, pacing me every mile for my first two half marathons. He is the one that has kept me running. I honestly can't say I would be a runner if it weren't for him. Plus, he makes my day-to-day training plans - no matter what it is I'm training for. Know what my plan would be if it weren't for him? Me, either.

Anyway, when I first thought about running a marathon I told Chris that the only way I would be able to do it was if he ran it with me. He said okay. Then I thought "Maybe I can do it on my own..." But then I realized I am much more likely to give up without him by my side than I am with him right there pushing me along. And I don't want to give up. Plus, he said he wanted to run it with me. And coming from someone as competitive as he is, that is probably the most selfless thing he's ever done. So he signed up, too :). He came through the door yesterday afternoon after work with a tentative 18 week training plan (one he had used for his first marathon) in his hand and ready to go. He's just as excited and anxious as I am, possibly more.

Even though this race is about the kids, I still want to set a goal. Chris said a good goal would be 4 hours, but depending on how my training goes, I want to try to break that.

I'm going to blog about this journey, in hopes it will inspire someone to aim high in life; to dream big and go after whatever it is they want. Don't make excuses; don't think "it's too hard," or "it'll never happen." Just do it. The first step is the hardest. Everything else will fall into place.

"Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on, to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.

- John Bingham (running speaker and writer)

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