I went to bed last Friday night with my alarm set to wake me up at 2:50 a.m. The last time I set it that early was for my first flight down to Omaha, Nebraska where I now live. And just as that early-morning rising proved to be life-changing, so too was Friday’s.
I believe running a marathon must change a person. Not fundamentally who they are, but the way they see the world, and themselves in it. The lessons learned, the experience gained, and the pure power of stretching one’s limits to give their all over 42.2 kilometres, simply must leave a lasting, perspective-altering impression.
And now, in early 2017, I have decided to run my first marathon.
That decision wasn’t made on whim, nor was it entirely expected. Rather, what brought me to be sitting in the chilly darkness of 3:00 a.m. on Friday morning with my laptop screen reflecting the Lincoln Marathon registration webpage brightly back at me, was the culmination of many miles, many highs and many lows, and even more self-reflection in this training this far. I can best describe the decision to run my first marathon as one that properly snuck up on me, gently knocking at the door of my imagination. Bit by bit, the idea became firmly planted into my mind. Over time, I began feeling a pull strong enough that I realized it was time to go for it.
I’ve had my sights set on the marathon since the start of my running journey but I didn’t want to take that step until I felt I could put my best foot forward. This fall, after running my second half-marathon, I loosened my grip on that thought. I opened my mind to the prospect of simply getting the first one under my belt.
As the deadline to register for the Lincoln Marathon approached, I knew it was decision time. This is Nebraska’s most popular marathon, which means it fills to capacity within hours of opening its registration. I started sorting through all the thoughts I’ve had on the marathon over the past couple of years, and reflecting on the experience I’ve gained as a runner. I felt in my gut that it was time to run a marathon, but I didn’t want this to be a decision based solely on that. So, I set out to articulate my reasons for running a marathon at this point in my journey. It was important for me to be able to clearly and honestly answer the question: Why now?
To my surprise, the answers came easily as I sat at my computer to tap them out in an email to my partner Candace. I wanted her to know why I was making this decision, and to be part of the conversation– she has been with me since the beginning of this adventure, and continues to be my strongest supporter.
Here’s some of what I wrote in that email. It’s worth noting that I consider the third answer to be the pivotal one.
Marathon 2017: Why now?
1. The challenge, the beauty of the distance and the test of endurance has been on my mind since the start of my running journey.
2. I need experience running the distance to reach my full potential. To wait is to only put off the inevitable.
3. I’m ready to accept the process and outcome of my first marathon without the pressure of a top performance. I have the long game in perspective.
4. My body is showing to be ready to handle the mileage necessary.
5. I have the support, and belief in the timing, from my coach.
Over the next several months I’ll be utilizing the experience I’ve gained to train smart and to train hard. Along the way I’m sure there will be plenty more to learn and therein lies the beauty of running: one never stops learning.