“The marathon has so many elements to prepare for. I think that is one reason I always want to come back for more. There is always something to change in your preparation and I am still trying to discover what I am capable of. I guess I just love the challenge.”
This sums it all up perfectly for me. I am a person who thrives on challenge. And the marathon presents so many. Physical, emotional, psychological, and personal challenges to overcome. Even though you start out with the same goal: to complete 26.2 miles, the path to how you complete those miles is different each and every time, due to the challenges that you face during training. And it’s never been the same.
For my first marathon, the challenge was physical and psychological. Could I actually run more than 13.1 miles, which was the most I had run previously? Would my body hold up? Would I mentally get there? Knock on wood, those were my only challenges. Well, and the novelty of staying in Friday nights to run long and early on Saturdays and giving up my frequent binge drinking on the weekends. Not such a bad thing to get rid of :).
For my second marathon, the challenge was to pick up the pace and experiment with incorporating speed drills and strength. Early on, my body told me I’d taken on too much too soon and I ended up with debilitating shin splints. I spent weeks in physical therapy and running laps in the pool to save my shins. In the end, I came within 4 minutes of my goal time and most importantly, overcame the challenge of an injury.
For my third marathon, which was only 2 months after the second, I incorporated longer long runs- the 22 miler! And worked in my dreaded pace runs and speed drills at the track. I ran my PR of 3:47.
The fourth marathon, I tackled it head on, ready to improve my time. I worked hard. I ran the most miles I’ve ever run in my life, including two 18 milers back to back. I gave up alcohol except for 1 night a week. I felt good. I felt strong. Unfortunately, on race day, the temperatures were unseasonably warm and within the first 3 miles, I knew a PR was not in the cards. It quickly became a new challenge to stay hydrated and to just keep running with the sun beating down. Unfortunately, they black flagged the course when I was at mile 18. I ran to meet my parents, who were waiting to cheer me on at mile 20.
With the fourth marathon a bust, I signed up for my fifth soon after. The challenge of training through an unseasonably hot summer was new and tiring. I teetered on my love for this sport. I kept working on my speed drills on the treadmill, but gave up the pace runs. On race day, it was another warm one and I quickly discovered the importance of those pace runs I’d skipped.
Now, I’m training for my sixth marathon. I’m hitting the speed drills and KILLING my pace runs (yay! happy dance!). However, I could never have anticipated the challenge of a flare up with my colon. I’m now on week 3 of tests to find out what is wrong. I haven’t been able to run my speed drills or my pace runs because I don’t feel I have been able to fuel myself properly. I’m still a solid 2 months out from the marathon. If I can kick this, whatever it is, and get back to my speed, I may still have a shot at a PR. However, for now, my focus is just to get my runs in between being sick :(.