I’d like to bring you back in time to the day I decided with one of my best friends Caitlin from college to sign up for our first half marathon. I had just gotten back from a study abroad summer in Norway and I guess meat and potatoes for three months doesn’t look so good on me. I wanted to do something different, and us being spontaneous and sometimes borderline crazy college girls we decided we would run a half marathon. At that time I had ever run over 6 miles, and running a half marathon seemed like such a big goal. We worked hard because we were afraid of getting to race day and not finishing. After 12 weeks of running 5 days a week we accomplished our race together in 2 hours 10 minutes. We were both ecstatic and proud; I may have even worn my medal to classes on Monday (so embarrassing, I know). My experience was amazing because I accomplished something I didn’t know I could do, and people who I barely even knew were proud and shared the excitement.
"All glory comes from daring to begin." - Eugene F. Ware
A year later I entered the lottery for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco thinking if I got an entry, it was the world encouraging me to run a marathon. Sure enough I got in and my 16 weeks of training began. When I set out on these many weeks I was terrified of the marathon. I am not sure if it was the fear of not getting to the start line because of injury or not being able to finish that kept me focused most. I made it to the start line injury free but the race didn’t go as planned. At the half way mark I realized that time time goal was not attainable, as I was only half way and completely gassed. I unfortunately also learned the hard way about the intricacies of nutrition before, during, and after a marathon. I think I did literally everything possible wrong, which resulted in my 4:50 finish. Regardless, as I received my Tiffany’s necklace from the tuxedo’d fire fighter at the finish line, the marathon bug bit me…
Seven marathons later I have now completed Nike Women’s twice (I went back the next year and ran a 4:35), Big Sur, Boston Marathon (2012 when it was 95 degrees, 2013 when we all know what happened, and 2014 where I had my fastest marathon at 4:19), and Chicago (I ran it with Caitlin as a reaction to Boston 2013).
In my string of marathons I have fine-tuned how I train, what my goals are and what they aren’t, my nutrition, my mental game, etc. I am currently working towards marathon number eight, the New York Marathon this November. Back in my early marathon days I would go to bed early, drink extra water the day before, have my hydration belt and nutrition packed and ready to go the night before, etc. These days I don’t have the same dedication, and while I am excited to participate in a bucket list race, I know that if I complete 16 weeks of training with long runs that range mostly from 14-20 miles each, and I stay injury free- I’ll finish. If the stars align, I’ll finish faster, and if they don’t I’ll be a little slower. That is by no means to belittle the marathon and the effort that goes into training, but it no longer gives me the fear and challenge that I was originally drawn to.
Last time I wrote (I know it was far too long ago) I shared how many of my experiences traveling abroad reminded me to face my fears and challenge myself to be uncomfortable. While easy to do this when thrown into a foreign country, I have found it much harder to seek these experiences in real life. After spending the last year and a half wondering what caused my break in marathons, I finally understand that the goal is no longer as big as I need it to be.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.”
-Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
I’m writing today to invite you to follow my biggest journey yet. In 356 days I will complete an Ironman in Copenhagen, Denmark on August 21, 2016. For those of you about to google it, an Ironman is an endurance triathlon that takes elites about 8/9 hours and the rest of us up to 17 hours. It is a 2.4 mile open water swim (equivalent to 160 lengths in a pool), followed by a 112 mile bike ride (6ish hours), and then marathon. I know you’re probably thinking I might be insane, but I’m sure that’s crossed your mind before now anyways, I’m just confirming it for you!
While this giant undertaking is a significant time and financial commitment, I feel the same thrill out of excitement and fear that I did when I began on my endurance running journey in college. I plan on blogging regularly about my training including specifics of my workouts, the equipment and brands I’m using, and the overall experience. I hope you will join me in this awesome and exciting journey in accomplishing something that truly scares me.
While doing an Ironman might not be the next step for you, think about your goals. Are you accomplishing them? If you are, rock on and keep kicking a**. If you aren’t, maybe they aren’t big enough either!