I ran my first marathon over two months ago, and it still seems pretty crazy that I, the non runner with no natural talent, ran a full 26.2 miles. My dad has bugged me to update my blog to include some sort of reflection about the marathon experience and what it meant to me. The truth is that it’s hard to put into words the way it felt to run a marathon and what it actually means to me, but I’ll give it a shot.
What does running a marathon mean to me? Does it mean getting a shiny medallion and bragging to my friends and family about this accomplishment? Maybe a little, but it means a whole lot more than just bragging rights. Beyond just finishing the run, I’m really proud of myself that I stuck to a goal for a year. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve become flaky over the last few years. I can’t decide what I want to do with my life or who I want to be when I grow up, but I set a goal to run a marathon. And I stuck with it for over a year, despite my lack of natural talent. I sacrificed time with my boyfriend, happy hours with my co-workers, and many other fun things in order to accomplish this goal.
I think the reason that it’s hard to articulate my feelings is because it still feels surreal. Despite the pain and agony I experienced in the last 6-8 miles, it doesn’t actually feel like I ran a marathon. I suppose it’s like any other big step or life change, it’s just going to take me a while to get used to the fact that I ran a marathon.
I changed a lot in the year it took me to train for the marathon. I’ve metamorphosed from someone who regarded regular exercise as punishment inflicted to those of us who are not naturally super skinny, to someone who laced up her running shoes and went for a run less than 20 minutes after getting home from Vegas (and then woke up at 6am the next day to take a hot yoga class, despite being exhausted from a weekend in Vegas). I’ve become a runner and someone who is dedicated to leading a healthy, active lifestyle. I’m no longer jealous of people who go home straight after work (well, most of the time I’m not jealous), and I enjoy my routine of exercising right after work, 5-6 times a week. In fact, I recently started taking yoga classes in the morning so there are many days when I work out twice. And, despite getting less sleep, I love it. It’s empowering to push yourself to see what you are capable of, and I try to carry that sense of strength and empowerment into all aspects of my life.
In addition to my new commitment to an active lifestyle, running has given me confidence and a sense of community and identity. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I identified myself through gymnastics. I was Megan, the short, dorky gymnast who wore turtlenecks everyday. I was proud to be a gymnast and that’s how I identified myself. In college and up until last year, I’ve lacked any sort of strong passion or hobby to which I could identify myself. But now I have become a runner. I may not be fast, but I’m a runner nonetheless. I’m also becoming a yogi, which is giving me an even different perspective and a greater awareness of my body and what it is capable of.
So, I guess the reason it’s hard for me to articulate how finishing that marathon felt is because it was much more than just one 26.2-mile run. So many miles, hard moments, blisters/chafing, and sweat went into preparing for that run. The marathon was the destination and the year-long training, the journey, is where most of the hard work was done. The days when it was rainy and cold, the days when I was exhausted and sore, the days when I questioned my ability to run a marathon – those were the days when I learned what I was capable of and how mentally/physically strong I could be. I’m really proud of myself for finishing the marathon, but I’m equally as proud for overcoming the obstacles and just putting one foot in front of the other for many months leading up to the marathon.
**I recently started training for the Portland Marathon, so more blog posts (and pictures) to come!**