three years ago today i ran my first marathon.
i’m not exactly sure why i signed up. maybe i figured that if i signed up, then i would train. i needed a new challenge. i needed validation. i needed a win. i had only run a half marathon (13.1 miles) before the race (and i did not train at all).
i think a lot of why i ran it (and didn’t train for it) had to do with an unhealthy relationship i was in. i needed to prove myself to him, and i guess i thought a marathon would be proof? who knows. he wasn’t even in town the weekend of the race, he was on a trip i wasn’t invited to. (he later used the marathon as the reason he didn’t invite me on the trip – but the trip was discussed in front of me without invite before i told him the date of the race.) i also didn’t train because i was paralyzed with fear of missing out. i would have these long runs planned, but then he’d invite me to something and without hesitation i would do that instead.
the morning of the race, i drove down to santa monica to hop on a shuttle to dodger stadium (the race ends in santa monica so my car would be there for me to drive home). i wore my brand new bright pink LA marathon tech shirt, my disc-man yellow headphones, and my brand new gu holder belt. oy vey.
i met up with my friends morgan and guido before the race. none of us had trained. we all just wanted to survive. i don’t think any of us had an idea of what we were in for.
the race started and i took off. i ran the first half like it was a half marathon. i felt great. then i got into the mileage that i was not trained for. (when later talking to the boy, he said “it’s crazy to think that at mile 16 you still had 10 miles left.”) the miles didn’t seem to end. around mile 18, my knee started to hurt, so i walked. then my feet hurt (from not being used to the mileage i was making them do) and so i ran. i was in pain no matter how i moved forward.
at mile 20, the boy texted me, “are you done with the race yet?” holy cow – that was not what i wanted to see. note to anyone texting a runner – never text that.
i hobbled for the last six miles. people twice my age and twice my size were passing me. it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. in the last stretch i was walking and a woman encouraged me to run, pointing out how close we were to the finish line. the photographers caught me struggling to run that last mile – i was in so much pain.
i finished the race, got my medal and check bag, and started heading toward my car (which felt like it was another ten miles away). on the walk back, i had to stop and sit for a sec. there i met a guy who had also just ran the race. i think he was an engineer? i can’t really remember. we bonded briefly over our shared pain and then parted ways.
i called my mom on the way home. while she was proud of my finish, she also said, “maybe your body isn’t built for long distances.” i agreed – i felt terrible. but that quote has stuck with me. i got home and laid on the couch. the boy invited me over for dinner at his parents’ house (he had a hockey bbq that i was invited to but i had a busy morning). on the way i stopped at walgreens for some pain relief and candy. to get to his house i had to walk up/down stairs, and i hobbled up/down those stairs. the following morning, a friend asked me if i was “walking down stairs backwards yet” – i had no idea that post-marathon all stairs should be walked down backwards.
next sunday will be my 10th marathon (and 4th LA marathon). i have learned a lot in the last three years – both in terms of running and life. despite the huge red flags, that relationship lasted another 8 months, and i was devastated when it ended. i joined a marathon training group (before the break up) and learned how to properly train for a race. through the marathon training i made some of my closest friends and learned what support looks and feels like. i’m actually kind of glad i ran the marathon unprepared, it was incredibly humbling and made the next one that much better.