In October of 2013, just one week after I turned the big 4-0 – I ran and completed my first full marathon. Yes. 26.2 miles.
Growing up, physical fitness had never been my thing and I had huge hang-ups about it. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I decided enough was enough. I trained for and completed a Sprint Triathlon. Running, swimming, biking- sometimes two workouts in one day. The training was grueling- BRICK workouts because your legs literally feel like bricks. But I loved the challenge and I was strong and healthy- more than I had ever been in my whole life.
Fast forward a few years. After giving birth to son number 2, I desperately needed to get back into shape. So, together with my friend Chrissy- I trained for and completed the LA Sprint Triathlon. Chrissy and I would take turns swimming in the ocean while the other watched the kids play on the beach. We’d go bike riding up the hills of Altadena- our bikes pulling hitches that held our toddler boys. My runs were in the evening but compared to swimming and biking- so darn easy- just one foot in front of the other.
And that is how I found running. For a few years I casually ran. Then I thought well why not train for a 5K? I think I could run 3 miles. And so I did. From there I ran a 10K and then I thought well why not shoot for a half marathon?
Three things helped me run faster and further than I ever thought possible. The Pasadena Pacers, and my running gals- Jen and Eileen. I ran the Hollywood half-marathon with them and we were laughing and smiling up until the final 2 miles. Eileen sums it up best- “Crossing a finish line is what I imagine heaven will be like. Everyone I love will be there, happy and cheering.” And I couldn’t have said it any better. When you finish a race, you are on top of the world. Everything you have trained for comes down to that final finish line, just like in life.
So it made sense to celebrate the big 4-0 by training and completing a full marathon. Training began in January of 2013. I ran in fog, extreme heat, rain, at night with a head-lamp, at 5 in the morning, by myself and with groups of Pacers. My mentality was this. Okay, this week I am to run 8 miles on Saturday, then 10, 12, 16, 18, 22. Each week I hoped I would complete the mileage quota because if I didn’t then what would happen? I would fall behind. That wasn’t about to happen. I built my entire life for 9 months around this marathon- it was like birthing a baby. In bed by 9 pm. No alcohol. No junk food.
Training also coincided with a horribly depressing time in my life. I was recovering from the tragic loss of my father-in-law who had so quickly succumbed to stage IV gallbladder cancer in a short 5 months. I needed to focus on something and the running dulled my pain and gave me something to look forward to every week. It was my escape. When I ran, nothing could hurt me. Physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain I was feeling from having watched someone I love disappear before my very eyes.
Which made it all so much more devastating when after I successfully completed that one and only marathon in October of 2013- I found that I could no longer run. I had hip and foot pain that I thought was going to go away that never did. Here I had been running mileage of 12-16 miles a week and then poof- nothing. The worst thing about it is- I chose to do nothing but wallow in the pain of it all and make excuse after excuse.
Until now. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor who has helped me with a few exercises to work out my hip and foot pain. Had a few massages. Bought my first new pair of running shoes since the marathon. And am going on week 3 of 4x’s a week 3-mile walks. I complete 3 miles in about 45 minutes which I think is pretty darn good. In mid-June- I had a great time at the Color Run with friends Jen and Judy. And this past week I jogged the entire 3 miles off and on for a 40 minute finish time. I am on my way once again. I hope once we settle in St. Louis that I will find a running community like the one here. I don’t plan to do any more marathons but a few half-marathons might be nice. And meeting a few running buddies would be the cherry on top.