I ran my first marathon in 2002 in Anchorage, Alaska. That race almost pushed me away from running FOR-EV-ER. It ranks right up there with the most dreadful race experiences of all times. Seriously. It. Was. Awful.
During my senior year of college, my roommate talked me into signing up for a program to train for a 1/2 marathon. I had never run more than about 4 miles (during high school soccer training while my coach was driving along side me yelling at me to keep moving…
AHEM…not motivational but I forgive you Coach!), so the idea of a 1/2 marathon was CRAZY talk. But, I really missed sports and this kind of felt like the same thing, so I agreed, and signed up. We were given a training plan and a group of people met every Saturday to do the long runs together. I LOVED it.
From there, I just felt like I couldn’t stop. I mean, really, if you’re training for a half marathon, you might as well keep going for the full! I decided I needed to do just that, and I signed up for Humpy’s Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska. I must be pretty convincing because I also got my little sister and two of my best friends to sign up with me. Yup. There were four of us training for a marathon IN ALASKA.
This was going to be the best trip ever!…(Man, we were young and clueless…)
Two nights before the race, we (my sister, her boyfriend-now husband!, and my two girlfriends) spent the night at our friend’s house. We woke up the morning before the race, and were headed into town to meet our parents, when our friend’s car got a flat tire. He lived MILES up a mountain and our only way to get to our parents was to walk down the mountain road. If you’ve ever walked miles down a steep mountain, you know that it destroys your legs. So, the day before our first marathon, we fried our quads.
The next morning, we showed up at the start line of our first full marathon stiff and sore.
Because of an injury, one of my friends couldn’t race, but she still made the trip to cheer for us, and so did her parents. Altogether, we had three runners and six spectators (my parents, Kelly and her parents, and my sister’s boyfriend) together in Alaska. Our cheerleaders were determined to find us along the course as many times as possible to give us the encouragement we needed. I knew that just having them there along the route would get me through those 26.2 miles.
So, you can imagine my disappointment when we saw them around the four mile mark, and then we didn’t see them again for what felt like forever.
The course (which we hadn’t researched even a tiny bit) was along the coast, on a wooded path, with zero road crossings or spectator access. In addition, the miles were NOT marked and none of us had any gear to tell us how far we had gone. It was an out and back run, so all we had were the really faster racers coming back towards us, telling us that we were “almost to the turn around!” That was great to hear the first few times. Then, it became this lie that just made me angry. I didn’t want anyone else to tell me I was almost there. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just wanted to quit. I just wanted to see my parents. I just wanted to pee. I just wanted it to be over!
At that point, I had a mini-meltdown. My sister and friend, Sara, were ready to ditch me, as my attitude was less than pleasant. Luckily, shortly after the meltdown, we did get to the turnaround and our wonderful cheerleaders were there waiting for us! It was so nice to see them for a brief moment and get some encouragement.
From there, my sister decided she was going to take off on her own. I really couldn’t blame her. Sara and I stuck together for a while, but her knee was really hurting her and she was having to walk a lot. So, we all ended up on our own for the last part of the race. I can’t even explain how great it was to finish that marathon. My goal was to come in under 5 hours, and I did it.
As happy as I was to have accomplished that feat, I couldn’t get over just how miserable the experience had been. It took me 8 YEARS to work up the courage to run another full marathon. And when I finally did it, I was terrified. But, luckily, I was much more prepared, physically and mentally, and it was an amazing experience.
Last night I decided that I need a redo on running Humpy’s Marathon. That race got the best of me. It beat me down and took my confidence. And, it stole the adventure from my only trip to Alaska. I was too sore after the race to go exploring, and too scared before the race that I would get “tired” and not be prepared. I totally messed up that entire trip!
My Bucket List just got a little longer.
Because I love adventures, and I love redos.
Sparkle.Pounce.Do What You Are Afraid To Do.