When I started training for the San Francisco Marathon a little over 13 weeks ago, I hadn't put much thought into what it would take to get from point A (not being able to run a marathon) to point B (being able to pound the pavement for 26.2 miles). It had been a goal bouncing around in my head for the last year, and so one day I told myself, let's do it(you know, as Ton Loc would say). Once those words were spoken, with no hesitation, I looked for the soonest marathon online, found it to be in San Francisco, (because God knows only an idiot would train for a marathon in the middle of the summer in Texas) paid the registration fee and told Chris, I need a plane ticket to California in July. I mean, I enjoy running and realize it is also a challenge but I had no idea what I just signed myself up for.
It didn't dawn on me that I would be training in ungodly weather: 85-100 degrees with 85% humidity. I didn't realize that once I hit anything above 12 miles in the summer, I'd need to leave my house by 5:30am, preferably 5, every.single.Saturday. I didn't realize I'd have to train while on vacation, take my first ice bath to ease some seriously aching feet, dress like a grandma and have a new bedtime of 9pm (what?!). I didn't know that I would one day be running with pepper spray clutched in my hand and that my greatest danger would be moms in minvans! I was surprised to learn that training would give me my very first sympathy foot rub from the hubby. Even having a csection for the twins, which caused my feet to swell like I had elephantitis, wasn't enough to make him touch my feet (aversion much?!). But run 20 miles and even Mr. Tough Guy will have a breaking point of sympathy (a once in a lifetime event, I'm sure) for his dear ol' wifey. I had no idea that most people train with a group. For some reason, running for hours on a Saturday morning isn't appealing to anyone but me. So, I did it. Alone. Or so I thought.
And while doing this, some interesting things happened along the way...some firsts, some downs, some highs, some moments with God...Here they are:
~Britney Spears and Katy Perry have made my playlist. Don't judge. I used to 'tsk tsk' at people who listened to pop blah (still no Lady GaGa on my list!). But you listen up, Til the World Ends and Firework make me a happy runner. And dammit, I'll listen to it if it's going to get me through another hour of running!
~Because of following the marathon guide, I got hit by some serious depression. It tackled me strong and hard. Around week 8. I realized I had only made it to the half way point of the training guide and I was dog tired. It was a combination of waking up 4 times a week to run at 5:00 am while adding more miles each and every week, strength and cross training at the gym 3 days a week, add life (oh, like taking care of 3 kids) and I was feeling it. It was becoming too much. Right around that time, Austin's lovely humidity made an appearance and what I used to love (running!), I was quickly beginning to loathe.
~Because of running, I sprinted right out of Depression's dark and heavy arms. I had an 18 miler up that morning. When I took off for my run that morning, everything fell into place. I hit my 6 mile mark and knew, I had this run. I owned it. I was going to finish and finish strong. There are moments when I'm running and so overwhelmed by the emotions of knowing my body is stronger than I ever imagined it could be, that I tear up. I bet I look like quite the fool on those runs where some tears sneak out. Crying because I'm able to run? Seriously!? Yes, seriously. I can't thank God enough for giving me the ability to do something that is 100% good for my mind and body.
~Every once in a while I'm lucky to get an IRL (in real life) running friend to join me...but more often than not, I'm on my own. Sorta. I joined a running group online, and the support of these women has been my lifeboat. Thanks, Running Mamas. I honestly don't know if I would have stuck it out, without your advice and support.
~I'm a klutz. Running is probably a dangerous sport for me because of my lack of athletic prowess. Who trips on every single run? Me. Who has tripped while at a standstill at a redlight? This girl! Twice.
~And while I'm confessing my dorkiness, let's add the fact that I now run while 1. Wearing a hydration belt (something I swore I'd never do) 2. Eating (hey, you burn 2,000 calories while running and need food!) 3. Rocking the compression socks, see?: (I have to fight the urge to shake my finger and yell, 'Hey kids, get off my lawn' while wearing these bad boys)
4. Wearing sunscreen. Because the difference between me and those 20 something hot runners is that well, I'm not in my 20s. I'm 32 and I've moved past trying to look cute while running (Ok, ok, I did get a pair of pink compression socks, but that's simply because even the white ones are a bit too geriatric for my big race ;)). One morning a 'hot' runner ran past me, looking more like Baywatch with her dark tan, white- bow-chicka-bow-wow tank, makeup carefully applied and smelling like a perfume counter. I on the other hand was more Golden Girls: hydration belt, drenched in sweat and smelling like sunscreen and running stank. And darn proud of it!
It's been quite a journey. It's almost marathon day, and I have to say, even if something stops me from getting to the race, I'll be forever grateful that I decided to give it my best shot. The biggest lesson I learned is that I am most definitely not alone. From the support of family and friends and most of all to the One who is with me on every single run. I'm feeling strong as I bring it in to the homestretch. Bring it, San Fran. This geriatric, klutzy runner is ready for the challenge.