There is magic in misery. Just ask any runner. -Dean Karnazes
I started running when I was 13 years old. It was the spring of 7th grade when I was beginning to realize how much I sucked at sports. I literally had zero coordination skills, minimal athletic ability, and a deep-seeded hatred of competition of any sort. That’s when I decided running would be a good alternative. I signed up for cross-country despite the fact the furthest I’d ever run was a mile in gym class. I remember the shock in my mom’s eyes when I came home from school to inform my mom that I was going out for cross country. My mom, being a three-sport all-conference athlete all throughout high school, was definitely surprised at first, but 100% supportive of my decision.
The assignment was to run our age times 10 by the end of the summer, and for me that was going to be 130 miles. That’s a heck of a lot of miles for a skinny middle school kid! I ran with a neighbor lady for the majority of the summer and my dad would bike with me every so often. Somehow, I knocked the 130 mark out by mid-August and continued on to get over 200 miles by the time the season started!
Cross country was okay. I hated meets, and got terrible stomach aches before each one. I did alright, but definitely didn’t excel at the sport (probably due to the fact I don’t possess a single competitive bone in my body.) After the season was over, my neighbor suggested that I sign up for a 5k so I could continue running. I ran the local Turkey Trot over Thanksgiving, and then signed up for a series of three 5 mile races over the winter through the YMCA. The whole idea of running in the dead of a Wisconsin winter was absolutely exhilarating to me.
By now, I was running more and more with my neighbor lady’s twin 28-year-old daughters. They had taken me under their wings, and treated me like a little sister (even though I was literally half their age…)
Sometime in mid-January, the twins thought it would be a good idea to ask me if I had ever considered amping up training, and train for a marathon. I honestly had no idea how long a marathon was, but I was getting bored with the normalcy of 5-8 mile runs. When I got home, I asked Google, and learned this:
a long-distance running race, strictly one of 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 km)
Oh. And you run that? That’s a shit load of miles! So naturally, with a doctor’s and my parent’s approval, I did signed up for the 2008 Green Bay Cellcom Marathon. Training began in mid-February and before I knew it, we were logging upwards of 25 miles/week.
I really liked running with the twins. Honestly, I just really liked running. I loved the feeling of running further than I ever had and pushing my body to new limits with each new run.
May 18, 2008 came in with a bang. The weather was absolutely phenomenal and I only remember excitement as we stepped up to the starting line with thousands of our closest friends.
Throughout the race, we took over 100 pictures, posed with strangers, saw tons of crazy bands and costumes, and ran through Lambeau field.
Upon finishing, all I wanted to do at the end was find my dad so he could hold me up.
Never before had I felt so depleted, yet completely satisfied all at the same time. My vision was blurry, my legs were wobbly, and for some reason, I was crying. 26.2 mile. Done.
So now what? When’s the next race?