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This is the story about how a regular everyday mom found the discipline and determination to complete a marathon. In the quick tip segment, I talk about how to prevent and deal with shin splints.
I never thought of myself as an athlete.
I didn’t play team sports and was more comfortable with my nose in a book. How did I go from an introverted teenager to a confident marathoner?
This is my journey. . .
I started running sporadically in high school mostly because I wanted to lose weight (like most girls). One summer between semesters I had the goal of running 10 miles. Several mornings a week I walked down to the high school track to build up my miles. I remember the 40 laps it took to run 10 miles. So much monotony and yet so much triumph.
The glow of those 10 miles carried me through several years of running but I never worked back up to that level for many years. Soon I had graduated nursing school, started working full time, got married, had two kids, and moved across the country.
All those years I exercised regularly but had never taken my running to the next level. Now I was in a new state and didn’t know many people. It felt like I needed something to give myself a purpose.
On a whim I ran a local 5K and although it was painful I enjoyed the competition. I started training for another 5K and suddenly set my sight on something bigger. I had been subscribing to Runner’s World for a couple months and found the stories about normal people who conquered great distances very inspiring. I knew I had to run a marathon.
I didn’t know any other runners, especially anyone who’d completed a marathon. Despite the lack of group support I went online and read everything I could about training for a marathon. I researched races and settled on the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, TN in April 2008. My husband was supportive, but because of our limited budget my Mom “sponsored” me for the race.
I printed off a training program from the internet and started training seriously in December. Looking back it was rough to run outside through the winter. I didn’t have a gym membership or access to a treadmill. I ran 5-6 days a week in wind, rain, snow, and ice. It was rough some mornings, but also exhilarating. I was just an ordinary wife and mother, but I was making my dream come true.
Then I began to be plagued by injuries. Lower back spasms left me so sore I could not get in and out of the car without help. Thankfully we found an affordable chiropractor who got me all fixed up. I also struggled through shin splints and sharp nagging knee pain. But I knew that I would finish that race even if I had to limp the whole way.
When race day finally arrived it was drizzly and overcast but I didn’t care. The energy around me was palpable. Looking in front of me was a sea of runners, looking behind me stretched runners as far as the eye could see. We were all there for a united purpose. We had each worked so hard to get there.
The gun went off and we started shuffling along. It was a couple miles before I was able to find my stride in the midst of so many runners. I was used to running alone and being surrounded by other people made the miles slip away.
At mile 13 the half-marathoners veered off and I found myself thinking that I still had half way to go. At mile 20 I was in virgin territory and the heat and humidity was beginning to wear me down. But I never seriously considered stopping and walking. Then suddenly there was the finish line and I surged to finish strong. My finishing time was 4:10:15.
No matter how many races I run in my lifetime, I don’t think I’ll forget that first marathon. Conquering that distance definitely changed my life. I have learned how to train smarter since that time and minimize soreness and injury. I also found that the most important ingredient to finishing a marathon is confidence.
The most recent marathon I ran I set a personal goal of finishing in less than four hours. I trained smarter, visualized success, and finished in 3:59:03.
Thanks for reading my story. . .
Now I would love to hear yours.