For this throw back Thursday I decided to toss it back to my very first marathon. I would like to say this is where I began my love for running but in truth that happened about 4 years earlier.
Sometimes it’s the pure naive belief that we can and will accomplish whatever we set our mind to that makes us better people. I was not a lifelong runner, I was not a great runner, and I had never run more than 3 miles in my life prior to agreeing to train for a marathon.
I simply started running in college to avoid the freshman 15 and happened to be sitting at a work dinner where a manager mentioned he was thinking about running the Cleveland Marathon. So here is where being young, hungry, ambitious and naive all work together…. I jumped at the chance to train and run a marathon in an effort to show dedication and put my name out there at work. Given this same opportunity today… (Assuming I didn’t run) I would probably groan say good luck and send him a text race day morning wishing him well. Nope my younger self decided this was a great opportunity. Did I mention I also have exercise induced asthma?
Step one…. How do you train? Again knowing NOTHING about running every run, was a training event. I was handed a spreadsheet that had my longest run at 18 miles. Looking back at all of my training mistakes I laugh! How did I ever complete this thing?! In the end the manager dropped out of training. However, I had it stuck in my head I was going to finish this event if it meant crawling on my hands and knees through the parks of Cleveland.
Race day morning came around. It was the ultimate worst start to a marathon you could think of! The weather began with 22 mile an hour winds, freezing rain and hail. I found a trash bag cut a hole in it and ran my first 3 miles wrapped like a California raison. FINALLY, the hail stopped leaving us with light rain and strong winds. Eventually, it just became the strong winds. To give you an image one of the GIANT timing mile markers blew over in front of me and into the river.
Around mile 12 I finally felt as though I hit a groove. No rain, suns out and I felt great. Until…… BAMM! I tripped over a pot hole landing HARD on the concrete. The medical bike attendant rode over to me discovering I had two bloody knees and scrapped palms. UGH! Ok. At this moment I had to dig deep. I had overcome 3 months of training in snow, a hail storm, tornado like winds and now I had cuts and blood running down my legs….but hey I was running a marathon and I was almost half way there! How fun! <- Yes, really that is what I thought.
Along with the medical bike one runner stopped to help me. I couldn’t tell you his name today but for the next 14.2 miles he became my BFF. The runner had been pacing close behind me and after the spill our pace group was long gone. We ran side by side talking pushing each other through the last 6.2 where we both wanted to just walk. Thank god for great people willing to stop and help. We both just need a running buddy and a friend to make this day into something we could call a win and an accomplishment.
We finished 15 seconds apart for a whopping finish time of 4:45.
Crossing that finish line I felt like I had the power to lift a car or compete in the Olympics. I often look back to that day and think what would I do today given the same obstacles? Most likely? I would panic that my time wouldn’t be optimal, that my race photos wouldn’t be flattering….
Sometimes we need to step back and realize it’s about the journey. I can look back to that day and hands down say my WORST marathon is also my BIGGEST running accomplishment. I wouldn’t take that day back for the world and I learned more about myself and my limits than any other run.