How can you tell if someone is running a marathon?

… Don’t worry they’ll tell you.

Last year around this time I was that obnoxious person who was ALWAYS talking about running. “I’m running a half marathon” I would boast, without even being asked.

This year, you may have noticed there has been a lot of radio silence around here. You may have also noticed that I posted about running a full marathon a few months back. Well I’m here to tell you that I failed, BUT I have also come to realize that no failure is a true fail.

My almost-silence on this endeavor came from the fact that I was really not sure I could do it. I KNOW I can do it now, but I didn’t think that I could, and that overwhelming thought got in the way and I stopped talking about it. I was terrified that I wasn’t putting everything I had into it, and I ended up putting nothing into it and giving up. I will be the first to admit that boasting about runs can be annoying but just think about it for a moment. The training involved in running any sort of distance race is time consuming and honestly, not always that fun. Telling people is a way that I (and other runners) hold myself accountable. Even if no one really cares that much, there will always be a few people who will remember and then ask you later “how’s your training going?” Which is an instant reminded to pick it up when I’m slacking.

With moving, wedding planning and a few weeks of extreme heat, my training was pushed to the back of my mind. Eventually, it disappeared.
Up until about mid-August I was still SO determined that I would run the full. I went on a 20k training run after a few weeks of not much training and smashed it. I truly felt unstoppable, but I was quite honestly not prepared for the amount of work that came with planning a DIY wedding, especially in those two weeks leading up to the event. I was exhausted. My life was consumed by wedding planning and work. I have always been one of those people who says “you just have to make time for it anyway. no excuses” when it comes to exercise and I’d like to apologize right now if I’ve ever said that to you, because as I have learned, you truthfully sometimes don’t have time. Especially when that time involves putting 3+ hours into going for a long run.
My wedding was perfect, and so was my honeymoon, and I swore once I got back to a normal routine I would pick up where I left off and run that race damnit! But I was never able to pick up where I left off. Work was insane upon my return, and life sucked me up, and I gave in. It is SO easy to stay off the bandwagon once you have fallen off and nearly impossible to get back on.
Yet, here I was, a full TEN weeks since my last run feeling incredibly sorry for myself that I hadn’t just got back on. But, my friends, life happens and I had to live with the life I had been living and be okay with it. I decided I would run the half marathon instead. This mostly came from my self pity and wanting to prove to myself that I could do it. I knew I could, or at least that’s what I told myself, so that was that, I would do it. But I also had to learn to let go of any unrealistic expectations in my head. I decided my only goal would be to finish. So, on Sunday, I laced up my sneakers and set out to run a half marathon with essentially no training.
I don’t recommend this. It wasn’t fun. My legs weren’t ready. While I had not been sedentary, I certainly hadn’t been running, and it HURT. Yet I am still glad I did it, and if you are/were a runner, you could probably do it too, just be careful and don’t push yourself. Here is my mini re-cap I posted on instagram about said run:

Finished the half!

Finished the half!

Kms 0-2: “okay I’m just going to turtle this whole thing. I got this. I see the 2:30 pacer so I’ll just stick with them. Not so bad”
Kms 2-5: “oh wait, I can run! I forgot I used to be somewhat good at this, alright, see ya later 2:30 pacer”
Kms 5-10: “I’m a machine! I’m going to beat my time from last year! This is the easiest 10k of my life. Okay I may not beat it but I’ll be pretty close. I could have run the full. I have so much energy! Running at my old race pace is so easy I could probably run an ultra!”
10-11km: “wait a sec. My legs aren’t working. Maybe I should have trained. Oh well I’m still in front of the 2:30 pacer I guess I’ll take a walk break”
11km: “ouch, walking hurts more than running”
12km: “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”
13km: I don’t think I can see properly my legs hurt so bad, and what is that stitch in my side?”
14km: “okay that’s a bad stitch. Where am I? What is life? Everything hurts.”
15km: “so much for finishing in 2:15, the 2:30 bunny just passed me”
16km: “I think I’ll just walk the rest of the way. Wait never mind, I can’t walk”
16.5km “gels! I forgot about those! And I have one! Oh and hey look at that smiling stranger cheering everyone on! Okay, one foot in front of the other”
16.75km: “I got this I got this!” 17-21km: “I’m not sure if I’m running or floating and I can’t feel anything but I’m doing it! Won’t stop until it’s done! Yup, I can totally run a full next time”
21.1km: “why do people run?”

Now, back to why this wasn’t totally a failure. Sure, I didn’t run the full like I had wanted to, but I ran a half marathon, without training! That still counts for something right? Even though I finished pretty close to the bottom of the pack in my category I still did it. Second, it was all I needed to remind me WHY I run and why I want to continue to do so. It forced me to look at my goal of running a full again and reevaluate how I can make that happen.
I may have turtled that race all the way home but I still did it! It may not have been anything close to any of my races that I actually trained for but sometimes you just have to get out there and get it done and be proud of just that.
At the runners expo on Friday I met a woman who had just found a lump in one of her breasts and was awaiting results, she said it put a huge damper on her training but “sometimes you just have to do the best you can under the circumstances”. Her words couldn’t ring more true. My only excuses are that I planned a wedding and went away for 2 weeks, but I still have an able body and health and that’s no excuse to back down from a challenge that would have been easier to just not face at all.
That, my friends is what running is all about for me. Being grateful I can move my body and that I have my health to do so. There are days where I can run like a champ, and days where 5k feels impossible, but you really just have to go out there and do the best you can, under the circumstances. So many lessons in running can be applied to real life.
After all is said and done, it was still an important race in many ways. I ran the first 10k without stopping. I’m not sure if I’ve ever done this. It wasn’t my fastest 10k time by far, but even in my fastest 10k races I have taken brief walk breaks. I also didn’t take any walk breaks up any of the hills that forced me to do just that last year. Even the last hill at the end when my legs just could. not. even. In fact, I passed every single person who was around me on that hill.
And now, as I hobble around the city of Toronto, I am telling myself (and others) that I WILL run that full this coming May. So you bet that I will be talking about that A LOT around here. If you don’t hear anything about it…ask me.
“It’s only impossible until it’s done”
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