Friday, June 3, 2011

Taking On The Marathon

I remember my first marathon. Although it was a memorable day, it was hard. Felt like torture. I wasn't ready for the difficulty I experienced from miles 20 to the end and even though I was smiling when I finished, I really never wanted to run again. I heard those same words after the Fargo Marathon this year from a family member who had just run her first ever marathon. I think she said something about burning her shoes which in my family, lighting things on fire is common place and something we thoroughly enjoy but I don't think she meant it that way.

My 18 year old niece, Cassie, who just finished her freshman year at the University of Minnesota, was able to squeeze in marathon training, get through final exams and head back home to Fargo to run the marathon. Not that it wasn't without it struggles. About a month or so before the marathon her Mom (my sister Jodi) and I chatted about Cassie's issues and her marathon effort and I suggested she scrap it. Between her IT Band, Pneumonia and Bronchitis issues at the peak of her training, I just didn't think it would be worth it. Cassie persisted and would report back that the running was going well in that the IT Band "only hurt for 1/2-3/4 of the run" and "The doctor said my left lung was only half full of fluid". OK, now I knew what I was up against and that even though I was discouraging her, this was going to happen. She is definitely a product of both her Mom and her Dad.

I'm always curious to know why people would ever want to run for 26.2 miles so after the marathon I asked her a few questions about what makes her tick.

How is your recovery going?
The day of the Marathon, I was extremely sore. I was limping, stairs were a chore. The next day I was surprisingly less sore. Each day got better. I was working 8 hours a day walking around and climbing ladders so I think being active helped. The only lingering pain I had was in my IT band, which I struggled with throughout training.

Why did you want to run a marathon?
I sometimes still ask myself this question. I joined track as a social event in seventh grade, which eventually led to cross country and a few 5K's. After you ran your first marathon, I was in inspired. Doing something like that had never crossed my mind before, and when it did, it was intoxicating to me. I realized how much respect people have for runners and how much discipline it took. Not knowing if I could ever do something like that made me wanted to try. If anything, it was sheer curiosity. I need a challenge and goal in sight at all times in my life to keep me balanced and humbled. After my mom started doing marathons, as well as her friends and my family, I wanted to be included in the madness. I wanted to feel the feelings that kept these runners coming back to such an intense and challenging event. I knew it must be worth it. I wanted to push myself and learn who I really am when I think I can't take something any longer. Training for and running a marathon has revealed sides of me I may have never seen otherwise.

Did you follow a training plan?
I followed a training plan, yes. Once I got sick with pneumonia though, I had to drop the plan and play it by ear.

What was harder, the training or the event itself harder?
This is such a hard question. Training was hard because I had no one to
push me other than myself. If I didn't want to run, I had no reason not to
because the only thing pushing me was my will power. I think if I had
gotten up to my mileage I had planned in my training, that would've been
harder than the marathon. The crowd, the adrenaline, my mother, everything
kept me going during the marathon. I was challenged in many ways but the
support I received on the day of the marathon made it a lot easier than
when I would go out and run 18 miles with no one to cheer me on.

What was the best part of the marathon?
The best part of the marathon was the worst part of my running. At mile
22-25 I was in a very dark place. I felt so weak that I couldn't sniff the
snot back into my nose, and when I tried to laugh to make it better, it
threw off my breathing. It was the best because it was the most challenged
I've ever felt in my life and if I wanted to, I could have quit. I didn't
have to run a marathon. But it was my choice and I stuck it out. I learned
I can do it, whatever it may be. The marathon also made me realize that I
have some of the best family and friends on the planet. I received so much
support and so many followers throughout my training. It opened my eyes to
how completely fortunate and blessed and capable I am. I am humbled to my

What was the worst part of the marathon?
The worst part of the marathon was when the first thought of "I can't'"
came into my head. I was so scared to not finish that I hyperventilated and
almost stopped myself. The thought that I physically cannot accomplish a
goal of mine is terrifying. I want to have no regrets and finish everything
I start

Was your Mom help or hindrance?
My mother was a huge help. Any questions, concerns, or advice that I
needed, she was able to help. She gave me the most positive thoughts and
complements for my work. She made me feel good and made me know I should
feel proud of myself. During the marathon I did get snappy at her, but she
never quit pulling for me, and pushing for me. She's a good mom and a good
coach. Without her, I do not believe I would have been able to accomplish
this goal.

Did you see any signs along the route that you liked?
I liked a lot of the signs. A couple had a sign that said "Finish b4 the
rapture" and at mile 25 a man was in full grim reaper gear holding a sign
that said "the end is near." Also, I saw one that said "Worst. Parade.
EVER." I love that people can have a sense of humor. It totally captures
the running culture.

Will you do it again?
If you were to ask me that randomly, I would say no. But when I look to my
future, I know there is no way in hell I'm done.

Any thoughts to share with perspective marathoners?
If you're contemplating doing one, do it. Even if it's one and done, that's
great. Running has been one of, if not the most positive influence in my
life. I'm healthier, I'm happier, I can deal with stress and anger so much
better, I've endowed a whole new respect for nature and the human body.
Marathoning has shaped my body and mind and I feel it has put me one step
closer to the human that I want to be.