If you follow this blog, you know this was The Year of the Marathon. Back in May, I blogged about my goal of running 26.2 miles, and on October 20 of this year, I actually achieved it. It was more than just a goal I checked off a list though - it ended up being a crazy/challenging/rewarding journey that lasted about six months total.
A few words about the journey:
The training was....intense. I have to say, I came to highly respect any human being who has ever trained for a full marathon while simultaneously raising children. Seriously, I can't even imagine. There was a week where we ran 40 miles total. To say it was a major time commitment is an understatement.
Besides the actual miles being intense, the amount of things I would give up was a bit surprising to me, too.
Because it was my first time, I was scared to do anything on Friday nights in the event that it would seriously mess me up for my Saturday morning runs. Because of this, I would be in bed around 8 or 9 PM every Friday (my husband was ecstatic about this). But then I would be afraid of how I would feel after the long runs so I would not make any plans on Saturday evenings either. All in all, my social life THRIVED during this time.
However, because I truly dedicated myself to our training, I felt prepared to run on race day. I knew I would finish it somehow, I just wasn't quite sure how horrible I'd feel at the end.
Turns out, I didn't feel all that bad right after. Granted, since it was my first race, I took it easy, especially for the first half. I wanted to save up my energy for the end, which worked a little except that I'm not sure that all the energy in the world could have helped me for those last 6 miles. They were just as hard as everyone said they'd be, but I somehow managed to keep my feet moving, even though they had been sore since about mile eight.
But I finished. I saw my family waiting there at the end and it gave me the burst of energy I needed to complete the race. And after I found my family, we walked over to the World Vision tent where there was a celebration. And as we walked in, I was introduced as a first time marathoner. WUT?
I then started my week of recovering from the marathon, which involved a lot of avoiding stairs/discretely going down stairs sideways when they couldn't be avoided/ibuprofen/laying around.
But what surprised me about the recovery is that it was mental as well as physical. I actually feel like processing the whole thing took more time than I would have thought. The whole week after, I just kept thinking, "did that really happen? did I seriously just run a marathon?"
Somehow, I actually did.
I'm still not exactly sure how, but I think it had something to do with the fact that (a) I ran with a group from my church and (b) I ran to raise money to provide clean water for the Democratic Republic of the Congo through Team World Vision. I honestly cannot imagine completing a marathon without either of those things.
The fundraising was probably the thing I was looking forward to the least at the beginning of the race. Not because I didn't think World Vision was a worthy case, but because I absolutely dread asking people for money, even if it's not for me.
But what I underestimated was just how giving people are. By race day, people had donated $2500 for Team World Vision. And believe me, at about mile 23, it was so incredibly helpful to remember that people gave money to my race so that others could have something we so often take for granted.
So I wanted to do a little something to thank everyone for donating, and since I have a large amount of affection for infographics lately, I thought I'd put one together to commemorate the whole experience (with space to write a thank you on the back).
Here it is.
The font in the ribbons is a little hard to see in the photo. It reads:
26.2 miles ran
2 international border crossings
50 lives changed ($50 provides clean water for 1 person for life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. $2500/$50 = 50.)
My favorite part of the race was something I mentioned on the card: (Estimated) miles Luke ran with Jenny. At about mile 19, Luke, my husband, jumped in and ran for a few seconds with me. During those few seconds, some guy on the sidelines yells to Luke, "yeah! good job!" Seriously, bro?
I was happy with my final race time. I wanted to get in around 5:15, but when I rounded the corner and saw that I could make it under 5:30, I was thrilled. I think at the end, even if it had said 8:30, I'd have been happy.
So now I feel like I have a little bit of my life back. I'm still running, but just a few times a week on a treadmill, trying to get my speed up. Even though this marathon took up such an enormous amount of time, I really feel like I came to love running throughout this experience. I'm not sure if it was because I ran the long runs with a group, or because I ran sans headphones and just tried to enjoy the process...whatever it was, I genuinely look forward to doing this whole thing over again next year, most likely for Team World Vision again.
For those who made this first marathon so memorable - whether it was by donating to TWV or running with me or just being supportive in general - thank you from the bottom of my heart. :)