Tuesday, November 06, 2012

My decision to run a marathon

It's my final marathon Monday (on Tuesday) and it's time to get to the bottom of this story. I have dragged it out long enough. I almost completed the story last time, but then I was worried about my blog post being too long. I got over that when I shared about my Nike's Women's Half Marathon experience. So today is the day I try to explain why I signed up to run a marathon. It will probably get a little choppy and I might repeat a bit from previous posts, but I promise this blog post will go the distance. It's time to run long.

Things changed for me in March. Before that, the thought of running further than a 5K, let alone a marathon, never ever crossed my mind. I even had a couple friends suggest the idea earlier, like training for a 10K or even a half marathon, but I would quickly dismiss it and never give it a second thought. It was crazy talk. But then in March, things started to change.

The first thing I remember from March was my run-in with an old classmate. We got on the topic of running and she shared that she had run a marathon. She recalled how difficult it was and how she had to stop to vomit several times along the course. Not fun. So I left our encounter thinking, "Who would be crazy enough to do that, to run 26.2 miles?"

A week or two later, I celebrated my birthday and one of my gifts was a gift card to Fleet Feet, a local running store (Thank you, Maria and Ed). This was a greatly appreciated gift to support me in my get healthy endeavor. And the true gift was that it got me into the store again, making me aware of upcoming store events as well as races.

As I worked towards losing weight and getting fit, I would read my Weight Watcher leader's Facebook page for ideas and inspiration. I would constantly see posts by Slenderella inviting people to come walking/running with her at a local trail. I had seen Slenderella at a meeting that I didn't normally attend and learned of her story. She had just successfully lost 100 pounds with the help of Weight Watchers and Teresa Rose. And not only had she lost 100 pounds, but she had also started running and, unbeknownst to me, was training for her first marathon. Inspired by her story and looking to bravely be more social, I decided to join her and her group of friends on the the trail one day. It was a wonderful experience.

Slenderella was incredibly knowledgeable and fascinating to talk with. She had a passion for running and was excited to share it. We talked about things I had never thought about before (or even heard of), like proper running form, mid-foot strike, one hundred-up. The day I went, the group was walking which was comforting to me since I was still getting back into running and was self-conscious about my pace. We walked because Slenderella was just a few short days from running her first official marathon (although she had already run the distance twice before in her training) yet we didn't really talk about it much. Our discussions were more general. But it opened my eyes to the fact that there was more to running and I wanted to learn more.

Armed with my new desire to learn more about running and my Fleet Feet gift card, I then attended Fleet Feet's Diva Night one week later. I almost didn't go, because my friend Paula couldn't go and I was nervous about going alone. But I found the courage and went for it. I knew Slenderella would be there, as well as a new friend, Eliza, that I had made at the store. And I had a gift card to spend. It was worth checking out.

I felt out of place at first, but I was quickly and warmly greeted by Eliza and then Slenderella. I met more of Slenderella's friends and spent the evening talking about running. It was great to meet people that could relate to my growing love for running. I spoke with Jackie for awhile and found it interesting that she had just run her first half marathon on my birthday, which happens to also be her birthday, and was training for the CIM like Slenderella. Slenderella and Jackie were real people willing to run long. It was fascinating to talk with them, yet I never had the thought "maybe I should try running a marathon." And they never suggested it either. They just openly and happily shared their own running experiences.

That night, while visiting with new friends and looking around the store, a shirt caught my eye. I did have a gift card to spend. The shirt, pictured above, had a great big start with various race distances. I really liked the great big start. I had definitely started something. I was running. I was losing weight with Weight Watchers. I had started to make things happen. At that moment in time, the race distances didn't mean as much to me as the start. Nonetheless I was too shy to buy the shirt that night and I wanted to think about it. What was wearing a shirt like that going to say? But I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I returned that weekend to buy it.

That same weekend, an inspirational photo caught my eye on Facebook, the top photo in this post. I guess it wasn't so much the photo as the quote, "There will be days when I don't know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing that I have." This photo, combined with all the previous events, seemed to trigger a change in thinking. I started to ask myself "Why not me?" If these real people can do it, why not me?

Faced with the hugeness of such a decision, I started to research marathon training and learned that there was more than enough time to train for a marathon in December. Was I crazy? Crazy or not, I was starting to feel a growing desire, and even the need, to run a marathon. It was undeniable. I could feel it in my heart. But it did seem crazy, especially for me, so I was afraid to say it out loud. I wanted to talk with my husband, Daniel, but I was afraid of what kind of response this kind of crazy would elicit. But I needed to tell someone. So I started by asking Slenderella and Jackie about it on Facebook. As you would imagine, they were both very supportive.

So I decided to talk with Daniel. I couldn't imagine making such a huge decision without his input. It was time to say it out loud. I was so nervous I almost cried. I was afraid he'd shoot me down. But you know what? He understood. He supported me, just as he always does. And even though I didn't understand why I needed to do this, he understood that what really mattered is that I felt the need to do it. He believes in me. And so, on April 7th, I signed up for the California International Marathon on December 2nd.


Maddison @ Miss Imperfect said...

I love this, it's amazing. I totally know the should I shouldn't I got because your safety net won't be there.
Great work and a big good luck on it!
The picture and the quote have certainly inspired me to want to run a full marathon.

Sally said...

You've got this, Jen! So proud of you. xoxo

Kelly Warren said...

You go, Jen! I'll be thinking of you on Dec 2! It's my birthday!