Thursday, March 17, 2016

What made me want to run my first marathon and the story of my journey to it.

I shared this story years ago when I first started blogging. I thought since running has been on my mind (and legs) a lot lately, and I have that incredible itch to sign up for a fall marathon. I would like to share with you all how I got started into running marathon's and my first time experience. 



To give a brief overview.  My dad was a really good marathon runner, a cross country coach, and even ran for his job in the military on the National Guard Marathon Team.  I grew up watching him head out for a run everyday, cheering for him in races.  Occasionally getting invited to ride my bike along.  


He never pushed running on me, in fact I tried out lots of other sports.  But when I got into Jr. High I joined the cross country team.  I realized I loved it, and surprisingly I wasn't half bad at it and maybe because I loved collecting all my first place ribbons and so it stuck.  


High school, I ran both cross country and track.  I wasn't the best, even though I did get to go to state every year in cross country. Distance was in my blood:)  My fastest 5k time was 18:02. Which let me just say I wish I could still run that today!


In college, I just ran for fun and stay in shape.  But to be honest, it was only a few miles here and there and eventually it led to none for a while.

  


THE IDEA


Then one beautiful April spring morning I decided out of the blue to go out for a morning run. Deciding I would run up the street and back (1 mile).  I remember it like it was yesterday, I made it up to the top of the slight hill, not quite a half a mile out, and turned around to come back.  I had no energy left after that half mile, so I walked back home.  


During that walk I remember the idea coming to me.  Your going to run a marathon this year.  I was about 3 blocks from my house when the idea came.  The idea gave me a burst of energy and I started jogging, and made it about 200 feet before having to stop and walk again.  


Eventually I made it home, my dad was out mowing the lawn at the time.  When he turned the mower off to go dump the grass, I said.  "Hey Dad, I'd like to run a marathon in October what do I need to do to train?"


My dad, being a runner for pretty much his entire adult life and then some. Looked at me for a few seconds and I think only answered because he was my father, not because he thought I was really serious.  

He said, "Well first you need to start running...  6 days a week...  Work yourself up to 6 miles and then we can talk more about it."



AND THEN THE JOURNEY BEGAN...


Now, I don't know if he really thought I would actually do anything after that conversation. But I did, I started running six days a week.  After a month he started to realize I might really be serious.

I knew I was serious, so a few weeks after that short talk, I entered the lottery to try and get into the St. George Marathon, and found out a week later I was accepted.  

It took me about 2-3 weeks to work up to 6 miles. When I did, I asked, "whats next?"  He replied, "well now you need to be comfortable running those 6 miles, and do it without stopping to walk."

It took a couple of more weeks (to be exact that part I don't remember.)  But by the time summer came I was ready for the next step, and he knew I was serious.



THE DECISION:
WHAT KIND OF RUNNER DID I WANT TO BE...



Around summer time, I remember having a specific conversation with Dad, he explained now was the time to decide what type of marathon runner I wanted to become.  

He said, "Now, there is a big difference between running a marathon and just finishing a marathon.  If you want to do this and I am going to train you, you need to do this correct and your going to run it.  You need to put the time in, and most importantly the miles in.  Eventually, you'll need to put the long runs in."  

He went on to tell me he would help me every step of the way ONLY if I did my part.



BREAKING THE DISTANCE BARRIERS


He put me out on a plan to break the first barrier in training for your first marathon. That 10 miler. Which for anyone who has done it, you know that first 10 miler when you've never run that far before, is hard but such a great feeling!


The next barrier, was to run my first 13 miler and let me tell ya it took everything out of me, I was so proud and tired when I finished that training run.  I remember my dad saying as I finished that run and wanted to lay down and rest for days.  "Great job, now all you have to do is double that and you've got yourself a marathon."


At the time, I remember thinking it a daunting task.  But oh how I wanted it!!!

Once I hit that 13 mile point, my dad also said.  "Okay, NOW you are ready to start REALLY training for the marathon, so lets get you going." 
Here I thought I had been already, but I was soon to realize working up to that first 13 miles was nothing of what was to come.



AND THE REAL TRAINING BEGINS...



He put me on a weekly running schedule.  Mon-Fri runs of 6-10 miles and on Saturdays we build up the long runs, rest days Sundays.

My first longer run was one I won't forget either.  I was up camping and around 8,500 feet in elevation.  It was my day for my longest run yet, a 16 miler.  Of course I was naive, and my dad of course didn't tell me that elevation was going to kick my butt a little (well a lot).  


(On a side note: He would always do this, never letting me get my mind worried beforehand. Leaving details out, so I would feel I could always give it my all, and then explaining why I had problems after...  A valuable lesson he was teaching me for later on, to help with the mental part of the marathon. He was being a great coach, tough but great so I could do great. I guess that is why so many others through my lifetime have wanted him to coach them.)





That hilly 16 mile mountain run in the higher elevation, did kick my butt. I can't even describe how much it did.  But I finished, no stopping, no walking other than to grab a few drinks of water he would hand me as he drove behind me.  I was so proud of myself, so tired but so proud!


I let him pick all my courses for all my long runs.  He either drove along side (or my mom did) or rode his bike to carry my water.  I did one more 16 miler, before starting what he said would be the runs that were the ones that were really going to help me get to the finish line.  

The 18-20 milers.

We did three 18 milers, and then one 20 miler and one more 18.  Granted each of these were likely slightly longer that he would tell me they were even if only by .5 or a mile..  He liked to do that to me, and trick me so I would push myself and realize after that it didn't hurt any more to do the extra than I thought it was to do what I did.


Each long run, I rarely stopped to walk mostly because he was right there and it pushed me not too. Until one particular hard day, he rode ahead and I was beat I remember stopping to walk for a minute or so before carrying on toward the end of the 18, oddly I remember feeling sneaky and a tiny bit guilty for that.




PUSHING ME TO TRAIN MY BEST


Once I was trained well and into a few of my later longer runs. He would slide in some speed work. If I was at mile 16, he would say run the next mile as hard as you can.  It would hurt at first to pick up the pace so much, but after a few minutes of it, it would feel better.  Then he'd say, you're done with that mile you can slow if needed or keep it up.  Oddly enough my body would like holding the faster pace through the last miles of a long run.  (Again, a lesson he was teaching me to help me use my mind to help my body find additional energy in the longer miles.)




MY FIRST TAPER PERIOD



Three weeks before the race I did my last 18 miler, and then my taper began. He had me run my normal weekly mileage the next two weeks. Then the week before the race, I was told to go for an easy 13-16 miles, but if at any point my legs felt any type of tiredness to stop and end it. My legs never got to that tired point, so I ended up going the 16, but just at a bit slower pace. 

(He told me many runners over taper and then end up having bad races, he didn't want that to happen to me especially on my first time. He wanted me to peak race day, not bonk:)


The week of the race, he had me really taper it down.  6 miles Monday, and dwindling down. The day before the race as we were leaving to travel down to the race he had me get up early that morning and go for a short mile run before the drive down to the race.




MENTAL PREPARATION



I did everything he suggested, I felt prepared but still in my mind I kept thinking what happens after I get past mile 20...  Am I really okay to go into uncharted territory and hit miles 21-26.2? For anyone who's trained for their first marathon, you can't help but have those thoughts. Regardless of what a coach or others tell you.
  
Dad assured me I was ready, and told me he has given me all the tips he can so that I can finish the race, but how great I do and the rest is going to be up to me.  
But being my dad he said a finish would be great enough.  
It was up to me now to take those tips, and my training and see what I could do with it. When I kept having too many questions the day before he finally just said, "some things about running a marathon can't really be taught, you just have to experience them to know."


LINING UP FOR MY FIRST MARATHON

So there I was, 6 months from walking back after not even being able to run a mile I was lined up alone at the start of my first 26.2 race.  Excitement, nerves I had so many emotions going through me it was crazy.  But I remember it all still to this day vividly!


I won't bore you an entire re-cap of my first marathon.  But lets just say, I remember loving every minute of it.  I am not an emotional person, but I almost wanted to cry as I crossed the finish line. I didn't, but I probably would have if I had allowed myself.  I was just so excited I had actually finished. I remember being so exhausted and sore, but immediately when I saw my parents I was already talking about running my next marathon.  I had a great race, I was well prepared and trained for a great race. In fact still to this day my first marathon is my PR.



THE SUCCESS

That was how it all began and now 39 marathons later.  A lot has happened since then.  I went from training and running one marathon a year for 10 years, to eventually running 13-14 a year. Then got a work injury which has kept me on the sidelines for 3 years but I believe might finally be towards the end allowing me to get back into them.


The reason I tell my story is, in one part it's always fun to reminisce and remember how it all began. But also to help anyone who is thinking or toying with the idea of running one. Maybe you have always wanted to do it, maybe you set a goal or resolution this year and have gotten a little off track. The fact is if you want it bad enough, you can do it!


I didn't follow any training books or "new" methods.  My dad was "old school" meaning you put the miles in, you don't skip on training.  You train hard and put all the work in advance so come race day, you'll actually have fun and so there is a far better chance that everything will go as planned or as you'd like it too.


While I may have my own opinions on training, I am not a coach so I won't suggest any specific training plans.  But if you are ever thinking about running a marathon, I will say this. If you decide to do it, it can be one of the greatest moments in your life or one of the most painful. So if you are going to make it a goal, train well, don't skimp on your training and go for a race that will feel awesome. So you can soak it in and enjoy every moment of it and when you cross the finish line you'll love it so much you'll already be looking forward to training for your next one.




THE END

Well, that is my story.  Hopefully if anyone was kind to read through this long post, I hope I didn't bore you to death:)  Apparently I not only have the "gift of gab", but I can write about just as long too:)



For those that are running your first marathons this spring or later this year. I wish you the best and hope you have an incredible experience your first time, just like I did!

31 comments :

  1. Awesome post! I haven't done a real full marathon yet--and you've inspired me to know that I CAN and I WILL do one in the next year! woohoo.

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    1. If you give it a shot, I wish you the best of luck!!! You'll love it!

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  2. Great post! I love reading how others started :)

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  3. This was so great reading, I hope you write a book one day, I would like to read your whole story, it is so inspirational. I love that fact your dad was there for you..so touching. My uncle is the one who got me into the idea of a half marathon..I did cross country too and I never imagined my self running anything more than six miles until I started spending more time with my Uncle. Thanks again for sharing..I hope you post pics from your first marathon I would love to see them.

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    1. Thanks Caroline! Funny thing is, I am working on a book along the lines of my 50 states marathon journey, we'll see how it goes:)

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  4. That was awesome to read as I'm about to start training for my first marathon!

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    1. Thanks Courtney! Good luck with your training!!

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    1. I'm from Utah, so I am up in our Wasatch Mountains (part of the Rocky Mountains) right now:) The elevation is lower in this particular area only around 6,500 feet, so I can still get the WiFi:)

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  6. This is an awesome story! What great memories you have with your dad! Thanks for sharing and Happy Friday!

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  7. A full marathon is on my bucket list, but I have a couple more years until I think I am ready! I finished my first half marathon this year and I am addicted! I think that anyone who finishes THAT distance as well deserves a pat on the back :D Long distance running is nothing to bat your eyes at! Thanks for sharing your story!

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    1. Congratulations on your first half marathon this year Rachel! When you are ready to give it a try, you'll love it!

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  8. awesome post. I completely agree each person has a different reason and can get through the finish line at a marathon. Not everyone "races" a race.

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    1. I think a lot of people feel that way! Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. what a fanatastic story. I really enjoyed it. so thanks for sharing.
    You are very lucky to have such an experience runner for a coach, and a dad at that, another win.
    13-14 marathons a year, wow girl, I'm tired just reading that, and even though the 26.2 distance is not for me, I still get enjoyment out of stories like this.

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    1. Thanks Matilda! Ya my dad is pretty great, and lots of support! I am lucky!

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  10. I give props to anyone that runs a marathon, I've done 1 half and for sure want to do more, but I have yet to be bitten by the marathon bug.

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    1. You never know maybe one day that bug will bite:) A half is pretty great too, running is lots of fun at any distance!

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  11. Already having the itch to run a marathon again?! As soon as I come off of an injury, I just want to run all the races too. Interesting to read about your dad and your running relationship. How special.

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  12. I love reading this history! It's great that your dad was able to help you out and get you started with how to train :)

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  13. Truth be told I've had the itch to race for a while, but now it feels like it may be more of a possibility than it has in way too long.
    Ya, he's been a great help from the beginning and of course when I don't train as well he is fine to let me know what I am doing wrong lol

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  14. Thanks, he's been a great motivator and he and my mom both have been incredible supporters of it all.

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  15. What an inspirational story! I love running but the furthest I have ever ran was 3 miles. I don't know if I would ever be able to run a marathon.

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  16. I love these kind of stories! very inspirational!

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  17. I so loved reading this post, Kristy! I think it's wonderful you were able to train for your first marathon under the guidance of your dad - what a fantastic way to bond and the memories of that training block will stick with you forever :) I think your dad has it right, too - training doesn't have to be complicated - just get in your miles and don't skimp on training and you'll have a successful race!

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  18. What a wonderful story! I so enjoyed it. It's so cool that your family all helped you do it too.

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  19. So great to hear your story of what made you run your first marathon! Very inspirational! You are so lucky to have your dad coach you. I'm hoping to do my first marathon this fall!

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  20. I loved reading how you decided to run your first marathon and while I knew you had run a large number, I did not realize the bulk were run in such a short number of years. It looks like one per month was on your schedule for several years! It's interesting to read how runners decided to take the plunge into marathons. I so hope you are able to get back into running in the way you want, and hopefully the distances that will make you happy when racing.

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