Running cliches’ are more common than one realizes….until you hear your own voice muttering one under your breath. Case and point: when I finished my first full marathon. If you’ve done a long race, one that you’ve never done before, I know you feel me. I can almost see all of the heads nodding now.
Runners like challenges. Some of us are realistic, and some of us have a really good, long run and we come home thinking we’re practically ready to do an ultra. Still nodding? Uh huh.
So, my husband and I had done a hand full of half-marathons. He had since moved on to full marathons, SMH. As a physical therapist, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. “Why do you like pain?” I used to ask him after his 20 mile runs. “Are you having fun doing this? “ Whenever marathon training started, I would brace myself for a crabby, constantly hungry, and basically useless-around-the-house husband for at least 3 of the months of training.
Then, he started getting in my head. “YOU could do a full, you know. If you would just train for it.” Yep, sure. “BUT, I don’t WANT to”, was always my reply. He had no counter-argument for that one.
Then, it happened. That one, lovely, magical long run where I felt like I could keep going. Nodding again? Aren’t those the best? It’s like a comet. MAGIC.
Ok, I agreed to give a full marathon a shot. This goes back to my statement earlier: “Runners like challenges.” I was ready for the challenge.
Fast forward past the doable mileage in the first few weeks, and on to the heavy stuff. It was getting serious. Now there were two cranky parents around, both of them trying to fight for time to train. And sleep. But, let me take a quick detour here….
Those long runs were special to me. That was the high point of my weekend. I started to look forward to them, and by Thursday night, I had my trail or route picked out. There is something to be said about getting to watch the sunrise. The quietness of the path, watching the world wake up around you, and the peacefulness. I loved getting started in the dark. Those first miles in the dark felt almost like I was cheating, they were so effortless. I still try to get out when it’s dark.
I could see now why my husband had been doing this for so long. I had certain routes that I picked for the longest runs, and I loved every inch of those miles. Even when it started to hurt. But, it was the JOURNEY. Each week that my mileage went up, I rose to the challenge. My body adapted, I survived, and I moved on to the next challenge. How do our bodies do that? Nothing short of amazing in my book.
And, there’s the magic. We tear ourselves down, we build back up, and we come back stronger. Talk about a metaphor for life itself. This is what we do. And runners are really good at it. Hard work gets you to race day, true. But it’s not all about race day, is it? It’s the journey to get there. Learning more about what your body can do. Knowing that you can stay motivated and determined to push through when you’re tired, sore, and cranky. Lacing up your shoes and saying “yes, I can.” Magic.
Looking back, when training for the marathon was over, I missed those runs. I would drive past a street that was part of my route, and I felt almost homesick. Nostaligic. I wanted another reason to do those long runs and be on my route just because.
It wasn’t all rainbows, lollipops, and butterflies. No sir. Sometimes the runs were, well, not pleasant. Sometimes, I wanted to give up. Sometimes, I just hurt and wanted to avoid nagging injuries. But, I plugged on, despite telling Dan, the hubby, that I was done and wanted out. He would just tell me to give it a day or two, and see how I felt after some rest. He knows me too well.
I kept coming back for more. Still, in the back of my mind, I will admit I was thinking “One and done” (another cliché’).
When I crossed the finish line, the excitement and the feeling of accomplishment, coupled with pain, exhaustion, and relief, were swirling through my body and mind like a tornado. I walked through the corral, gathered up some food and thanked God that I was still upright.
I found Dan at the end of the chute, grinning, of course. “See, I knew you could do it.” (cliché’ again). I wanted to think that really he was just secretly relieved that I had actually finished for the following reasons: he wanted me to succeed, he wanted me to survive the torture to help take care of the kids, he didn’t want a DNF to be on my mind with a bunch of “what-ifs”, and lastly, because now I had come to The Dark Side. He knew I got it now; I understood. Now, we were true partners in pain.
By the time we got to the car, it was already coming out of my mouth without my even having the conscious thought…..”let’s do another one…..” (most often heard cliché’)
Run Happy, friends.
Amy is a marathoner and triathlete, a mother of four, an Exercise Physiologist and a Physical Therapist. She lives with her husband, Dan (also a marathoner and triathlete), and four kids in Lewis Center.