NOTE: I apologize for the use of Comic Sans. I know that this is the most terrible of fonts, but I needed a graphic and I made this on my computer at work during lunch … and … it just happened, ok? Please don’t judge me. It’s not my fault that my work won’t let me download custom fonts on my work computer.
Between my last marathon and Ogden this past Saturday it was over 18 months since I last ran a marathon. It really wasn’t by accident. When I ran the St. George Marathon in October 2012 I ended up injuring my foot and the marathon just took TOO much out of me.
So, I took my time getting back into wanting to train for another. Plus, I fell in love with the half marathon. In fact, I’m still madly in love with the half marathon. I love the challenge of the half, I love the distance and I love recovery time of the half. It won’t wipe you out for a whole week after running one.
So in 2013 that’s all I ran. I worked towards getting more half marathons under my belt and getting that ever elusive SUB-TWO half marathon time. All of the marathons I signed up for last year I either sold, traded or downgraded and just put my energy in for 13.1.
And, I don’t regret that.
Going into 2014, that attitude didn’t change much. I just didn’t have much desire to run a marathon anytime soon. But, that changed when Becky signed up for Ogden and started training for it. There is something about watching someone go through the process of training for their first marathon that is inspiring. And, I caught that bug.
After a couple weeks I decided to secretly sign up for the marathon and surprise Becky at the starting line. A story I already documented and blogged about extensively. Needless to say the experience of running the Ogden Marathon was incredible. It wasn’t easy, it was hot, it was miserable, but it helped remind me that marathons aren’t suppose to be easy. If they were everyone would be doing them (so many TWSS jokes right here … biting my tongue).
But, in the time building up, running and passing days after the race I was reminded of a number of the “joys” and “not so much joys” that come with the journey. That leads me to this week’s Top Ten Tuesday … here are the Top Ten Joys of the Marathon that I’ve missed the past 18 months.
10) The first week of tapering.
NOTE: I don’t why this picture of me and Sears Burritos represents tapering, but I just feel like it does for some reason? Enjoy it.
There is no greater joy than your first week of tapering. You’re done with your longest training run, the marathon is within reach, your mid-weeks are getting shorter and you find that you have more time to do other things. It’s just splendid.
Then … BAM! The second week of tapering happens and it’s worst week of your LIFE! You find that you are more irritable than usual, you find you NEED an extra long run to deal with that stress and … well … you basically feel like a lazy fat cow.
But, that first week of tapering? Paradise.
9) Uglier toes than usual.
8) No guilt eating all the ice cream you want/can handle …
This is my favorite part. After I ran the St. George Marathon I ate nothing but ice cream the rest of the day. The marathon gave out HUGE ice cream sandwiches at the finish line and I devoured three with ease. Then later that night I got a milkshake from Iceberg and ate that with ease.
The moral of this story? There is no guilt doing this, because I RAN A MARATHON.
7) All of the treats and handouts at aid stations.
When I run marathons I run with backpack for two good reasons. One, to have an emergency pack, water, etc. (etc. meaning candy, gum, extra Gu and Fig Newtons) on hand. And, then two, to have somewhere to put all the loot I get from the aid stations (ie-Clif Bars, GUs, Shot Bloks, Clif Shots, etc. I never miss an opportunity for a handout and what better way to save money than by taking what’s offered to you.
Usually during a marathon the volunteers are really liberal in giving you whatever you want. So I’ll always ask if I can grab a couple. They’re more than happy. But, I will say, this usually only is good for big races that MASS order GUs, Clif Bars, etc. And, I will always respect not taking more that would deprive runners behind me.
(But, the good thing about my marathon speed is there aren’t too many people running behind me).
6) Laughing at yourself when you start crying anytime after mile 20.
I have to laugh about this picture from last Saturday. This isn’t me concentrating on the course and being all determined to finish the course … that’s me BALLING! I didn’t know there was a photographer there until I looked up. This just makes me laugh.
And, the whole reason why I am crying isn’t because I am in pain or daunted by the task ahead of me. It’s because about less than a quarter mile before I turned my music on and the first song that played was my ALL-TIME favorite U2 and running song, “Where The Streets Have No Name”
You just have to laugh. This is what marathons do to you.
5) Reminding yourself every Saturday morning why you are waking up at 4am to run.
There have been many times that I have questioned my sanity running marathons. Especially when you sacrifice so many Saturday mornings to prepare for it. But, that’s not also Saturday mornings, that’s also Friday nights. You know you are a runner when being out past 9pm on a Friday night is too late.
But, imagining the end goal is what gets you through these moments. Picturing what it will feel and be like will help you get out of bed, stay motivated, keep you on track and get you prepared for the race. That vision is what carries you.
4) Sharing any mile with any friend old or new.
I tell people this a lot. The difference between my running two years to now is simple. I have a MUCH bigger network of running friends. This doesn’t diminish the influence that my friends had on me two years ago, it’s just I’ve gained so many more friends that running really has enveloped my life.
Most of these friends I’ve met at races, most through others friends and a lot through my RA running group. Some I have even met in the middle of the race. Wherever they have come from and whatever they bring to the table has impacted me and my running. Especially as I am training for a marathon.
I might not be as fast as them, I might not ever run a sub-three marathon like some and in some instances I might be faster than them, but that doesn’t matter because each runner is supportive of the other. And, when you have that support you can’t help but enjoy the marathon journey that much more.
3) Crossing the finish line and making a beeline to chocolate milk.
I don’t really even know if words are needed for this? I mean, what’s better than chocolate milk after a race? NOTHING. Not, even Strawberry Milk, even if it wanted you to believe that. Chocolate Milk is where it’s at! End of story.
2) Running that last mile.
There is something about running that last mile that is just UBER emotional to me. It’s that time to reflect on the journey. Not just on the previous 25.2 miles, but on the whole journey leading up to that moment.
The best way I can explain it to non-runners is that last mile is like the last day at camp when you’re all gathered at a camp fire singing songs and remembering the past week and friendship gained. This is that moment for runners.
It’s hard to reflect back at that last mile and feel a sense of gratitude for what you went through, the people who ran with you, crossed your path, cheered you on and gave you aid when it was most needed. If you couldn’t tell this is also a point where I have a tendency to cry as well.
I blame my father.
1) Watching others accomplish the feat for the first time.
You know what the sad part about this list is? I am actually lactose intolerant. But, I figure the pain I put myself through with a marathon deserves the pain I put myself through with ice cream and chocolate milk. I guess the only difference is marathons won’t make you gassy (my Mom is going to talk to me about that last sentence).
I am looking forward now towards September and the Big Cottonwood Marathon. I’ll once again be able to experience all of this joy again!