“Marathon” is a word that’s been bouncing around in my head for a few years now. I wanted to run my first marathon in 2015, but my parents urged me to wait until I aged out from drum corps and finish college before I did my first full. I filled the void with half-marathons as best I could, but since coming off tour in 2016 (yes, over a year ago), my sights have been set on finishing 26.2. I started working at Fleet Feet, found myself surrounded by distance runners and constantly helping people who were pushing themselves to complete their goals, and kept chugging on my own path.
I didn’t race, I kept most of my weekends low-key, and I built my base. I watched and supported my friends at work who were running their spring full and ultra marathons, and stuck to my long, (mostly solo), runs up and down the lakefront path. I took up run-commuting so I could continue to work upwards of 40 hours a week, while finishing my last year of undergrad as a full-time student. I did my two twenty-milers in the spring, graduated from college, and took off for three months.
But I thought about it every day while I was gone. I pictured myself 16 miles in with 10.2 to go on race day. I thought about cruising south-bound on the path, about four miles into another training run, and seeing my favorite view of the skyline. I treated the corps-wide 5k like a speed workout, and it felt so good to put one foot in front of the other in a quick-manner again.
Then I came home, realized I was done with band, it hit hard that I wasn’t in school at Columbia anymore, and all I was doing was running. It finally made sense why my parents wanted me to wait until after DCI, and out of school, because it turns out that when you’re training for a marathon that’s less than seven weeks away, it takes a lot more time than your base-building did in the past year and a half. But, I’m so glad I had that base to fall back on. When my two coworkers and I went out for our hot, humid 20-miler on a Wednesday morning, it felt a little more possible because I had done that distance twice before. If there’s anything that gets me to the finish line on Sunday, it’s that I had the advice of dozens of marathoners through the last year.
It also wouldn’t have been possible without my faithful long-run buddy, Jenny. Since my first 10-miler after tour, through our 10-mile shakeout last week, and all the way through the expo and our Saturday pre-run, I don’t know how I would have made it out of bed early on Sunday/Friday mornings to get the miles I needed. I wouldn’t have swung on swings around the city or had as much fun or taken as many pictures without my fellow ABBA-jammer.
This being the week of tapering and shorter runs (the longest I’m going before the 26.2 is eight, which will happen as soon as this rain cloud passes a little more), I’ve had way too much time to just think about what’s going to happen on Sunday. I can’t wait to set out on a long run with a new distance to tackle. I can’t wait to finally complete this goal I’ve had for myself for so long. To do this thing that felt beyond my reach four years ago. Something that I’ve tried time and time again to not only get the nerve to register for, but actually tell people I want/am going to do it.
I also can’t wait for all the beer afterwards. To wear my apparel I’ll spend a small fortune on at the expo, and drink all the beer, without feeling bad about it. That’s what marathoning is all about, right?
Here we go, 26.2. Round one. Through the city that helped me fall in love with running. I can’t wait to do this.