It is sort of funny, the things that stick with us for a long time and pop into our minds when we least expect it. I know it hasn’t been that long since I trotted my first marathon in October, but the story has been told again and again (and again). And one more time still.
I am finally able to say things like “When I ran my marathon…” or “Yeah, I’m a marathoner” without bursting into surprised/astonished giggles. (I do still sort of linger a bit longer in the mirror when I wear my Finisher’s shirt though. Looks fancy on me!)
Nothing will ever detract from crossing that finish line, and in fact, I feel about 10 feet tall just thinking about the fact that I finished an entire marathon. But, the thing that has surprised me this week, is my reaction to the chatter about registration opening today for the Twin Cities Marathon. I am sadder and more jealous than I thought I would be.
In case you didn’t click all the links I cleverly and conveniently put in the first paragraph, the short version of a 26.2 mile story is this: I broke my leg running the marathon– sort of splintered it, really (the x-ray was kind of gnarly). And while I was able to finish, I have been strongly medically advised to not run one in 2012. According to a pretty rad doctor and totally supportive physical therapist, if I ever want to run any distance again, I should spend my year focusing on increasing the strength in my hips and core and keeping my weekly mileage around 25 miles or less.
And so as registration approaches and Facebook and Twitter are abuzz with “Thinking about running TC this year. What do you think?” I am so tempted to just sign up and run. But the truth is, I have been bitten by the bug and I want to run
tons lots some more marathons, not just one more. It is healthiest for me to watch the marathon this year (after running the TC 10 Mile? I hope so!)
I’ve decided to put the energy I spend being bummed and jealous into being ridiculously supportive of everyone I come across who is even so much as thinking about running the TC Marathon. And especially those who are running their first marathon. Because when you sign up to run Twin Cities, there are so many things you are signing up for that aren’t listed as “race swag” but probably could be because they are so awesome.
Here is my list of the bonus swag you didn’t even know you were gonna get:
- Crazy-mad self respect. At the end of my blog post about why I ran the marathon I wrote “I ran a marathon. And you know what? I bet I can do anything.” And I still believe that.
- Free membership into an awesome community. Runners are some of the best people ever because whether they’re a novice 12-minute-miler or a Boston Qualifier, they know the bad days: the blisters, the dehydration, the hamstring that won’t loosen up, the morning that you would rather eat a cinnamon roll than a 3 mile tempo. But they also know the good days: the long run that felt effortless, the PR, the beautiful sunrise/sunset runs, the unbelievable feeling of strong legs under you.
- An emotionally intense amount of support. Before the marathon, there was lots of “You’ll do great!” and well wishes of the like, which were appreciated (and needed). But during the race, I was overcome by the support. I saw my family 4 times (and cried every one of them). I saw friends just as often and was even surprised by some of the people who came out to see me. And the strangers! Oh, the strangers! I don’t know a single one of them by name or face, but the truth is, your friends and family can’t be there at every mile and the spectators were just so awesome. I felt so honored that people who didn’t know me took time on their beautiful Sunday to cheer for me, give me some oranges (or champagne!), and tell me I could do it. I am most definitely, 100% paying that forward as many times as I possibly can.
- A better understanding of the relationship between food and your body. We can be told a dozen times about the foods we should eat and the foods we shouldn’t, but nothing hits home the lesson better than attempting a long run after a night of beers and pizza. It’s true, if you are training for a marathon there are days/weeks where you feel like you have to eat all the food to not feel hungry, and you will have to increase calories to maintain a strong training plan. But running does not give you a free pass to treat your stomach like a garbage disposal and training will illustrate the point that you get out what you put in.
- A better butt. I know I was on a roll with some really deep, meaningful benefits of marathon running and this may seem a bit crass and sudden. But be honest, who do you know doesn’t want a better butt? Despite having some bonus pounds I was willing to part with, I didn’t really drop much weight during training. But I did get a rounder, more lifted butt. And I like it. And you will like yours too.
I think what I am trying to say is, “run.”
You are so blessed to have the health and physical ability to run. We don’t all have that and we don’t all keep it.
Even if training and running a marathon doesn’t take you on the same journey I described, it will take most certainly take you on a journey. Let it.
There are things about those 26.2 miles that are so personal, so self-sacred, and so deeply affecting that they are actually impossible to describe (and, oh man, has the extrovert in me tried). I want you to have that. I think everyone deserves to feel about themselves the way that I did that day.
Whether we know each other personally or not, I will be your #1 fan.
I am not affiliated with Twin Cities in Motion or the Twin Cities Marathon in any way other than being a finisher of one of the greatest marathons known to mankind. They did not compensate me in any way for writing this post, although if they would like to I would gladly accept an entry into the TC 10 Mile. Just kidding. Sort of.