I have enjoyed running the majority of my life. I ran cross-country all four years in High school. I loved the endorphins and overall good feeling while I was running. After I started nursing school, I more or less stopped exercising all together. I really struggled during this period of my life with trying to get enough time to study every night and work on the weekends. Exercise was no longer a priority of mine. After I graduated from nursing school, I decided to train for a half marathon. I ran my first half marathon in a little over 2 hours but I had not put a lot of time into training and I ended up walking some of it. My dad decided to run his first marathon at the age of 54. He is honestly the only person I have met that took up training for a marathon in their 50’s. My dad inspires me so much every day and it was because of his drive that I decided to take up running again. I signed up for the Brewer’s half marathon in Milwaukee with my brother and dad. I blew my first half marathon time out of the park and ran it in an hour and 45 minutes
My sister was living in St. Louis for pharmacy school and I decided to sign up for the Halloween half marathon there a few months later. This will be my most treasured run as my sister was there cheering me on. Whenever I think about this run, I cannot help but become very emotional as it will always be associated with my sister and one of the last full weekends we had together while she was alive. I ran this race in , A new PR for me. This was the last half marathon I ran.
It was not too much longer after my 3rd half marathon that I decided to officially sign up for my first marathon. I chose the Wisconsin Marathon on Kenosha. I was so excited and anxious. However, a May marathon meant lots of cold and snowy runs on icy and snow covered streets. I knew I had my work cut out for me.
I started becoming more acquainted with the running community in Janesville and met some really great friends. They were very dedicated runners and I could almost always find someone to run with every morning at 5 AM, sometimes 4 AM. I put a lot of miles in with my dad on the week days and weekends. It was then that I realized running was so much more than just running at that point.
It became a social event for me and I loved the time I was able to spend with my new running friends and my dad. It made the days where I just felt tired and worn out worth it.
Training was going really good for awhile. I was getting in the miles and speed work. I worked my way up the 20 mile mark a few times. I had been out on a 20 mile training run and I ran it at 8 minute pace.
It was then that I injured my leg. I was only about 5 weeks out from my marathon. I was absolutely devastated. I was uncertain that I would even be able to run it despite the months and months of training. I tried several short runs in the weeks leading up to the marathon but my leg was not feeling any better. About a week out from the marathon, I ran a couple miles with minimal pain. After much deliberation, I decided to go for it.
Marathon day was here. All the confidence I had prior to getting injured was gone. I felt only anxious and uncertain. I knew that the mental battle was just as important as the physical battle with a marathon. My dad had signed up for the half marathon and had said that he would run with me as long as he could. He ran the first 11 miles with me. It was great to have him by my side cheering me on. For the first 16 miles, I had minimal pain and was able to push through running at an 8 minute pace, despite being attacked by zombies….
After mile 16, everything started to fall apart. My leg started throbbing, the weather was getting warmer and the sun was beating down with no breeze. I could feel myself getting dehydrated and I wanted to quit. I ended up alternating running and walking for the last 10 miles. It was so rough, I started to cry. My Dad had found me on the course with his bicycle and encouraged me not to quit. The finish line felt so far away. I was warned that the last 6 miles would be the worst, and boy, were they ever. I even asked my dad at one point if I could ride his bicycle, only half kidding, but I kept pushing on. I finally saw the finish and was able to limp over the finish line.
I cried tears of joy, pain and sadness that my first marathon had not gone as well as I had hoped. I finished in 3 hours and 53 minutes which everyone told me was a really good time for my first marathon. I still felt sad and discouraged initially. However, I knew I had given it my all despite the circumstances . I started to feel better about what I had accomplished . Running a marathon is no simple feat and it requires lots of dedication, drive, and a little craziness.
I think if there is something you want to try, you are never too old to try it. Like I said, my dad trained for his first marathon at the age of 54. I truly believe you can do anything that you set your mind to. There will be lots of ups and downs in any feat that you attempt, but that is what makes it worth it in the end. It is okay to feel discouraged, It is okay to stop temporarily, but it is never okay to quit.