Now that I’m just a few days out from marathon #1, I’m ready to share my thoughts about it. I’ve been trying to stay out of my own head so I don’t burn myself out or psych myself out and for me, my training approach has worked well. It may seem unconventional to many but at the end of the day, I’ve done what I needed to do to get myself to that starting line healthy.
Why run a marathon at all?
A marathon is something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m not naturally a speedy runner but I can run long slow distance (when I actually pace myself properly) thanks to my swimming days. My parents both did half marathons while I was growing up, although they never ventured into the marathon territory. My mom would make the trek down to Boston every year for the Boston Marathon and I always wanted to go with her. At the time, I don’t think I knew exactly what a marathon was…
When I started running in high school, I did it as cross-training for swimming. Once I got to college, I still didn’t take myself seriously. I just knew I was falling in love with running, I hated running speed workouts, and I was burnt out in the pool. The summer after my sophomore year, I had just quit swimming and decided to run a half marathon the day before cross-country pre-season started. That first race is still my PR. I loved long runs on the weekends with teammates (at the time they were around 10 miles but occasionally we’d run further just for fun) and decided I really wanted to challenge myself and run a full marathon.
My coach always stressed the importance of not running marathons until we were at least 23 because our bones were still developing. That’s obviously a controversial opinion but it’s the guideline I chose to follow. Now I’m 23, have been injury free for longer than I have been in 4 years, and am at a point in my life where it was feasible to train. I promised myself that if I started having leg problems or I felt myself becoming obsessive, I’d stop immediately. But I wanted to do this for myself. It’s a level of mental toughness I’ve never experienced.
I’m an injury-prone runner and I knew if I was going to do this, I needed to reevaluate my training. I used to love to run high mileage, but I can’t if I want my body to function 5 years from now. Now I’m pretty happy around 30-35 and anything more than that starts to feel like a burden. When I originally decided to start marathon training, I promised myself I’d hold true to 4 days a week with a few peak weeks of 5 days. I started biking to add in the extra “miles” I wasn’t getting through running and November Project and yoga forced me to get some strength training in. I truly believe that is what has kept me injury-free.
So now that you know the why behind marathons, why Newport Marathon?
There were a few factors in my decision.
- It was an excuse to go home.
- I’ve run the half before.
- Newport is a symbol of health and happiness for me.
Let’s break these down further.
1. It was an excuse to go home.
I’m extremely close with my family. I’m also obsessed with Rhode Island (I’ll get to that part in a minute). Running a race at home is convenient. Sure, running Baltimore would would involve no travel, but I try to see my family every 6 weeks and this falls perfectly in that time frame. It’s also my mom’s birthday weekend, the last weekend the boat is in the water, and the weekend my parents are moving to Rhode Island. Timing is perfect.
2. I’ve run the half before.
This race is one I know. It’s my favorite half marathon to date. It’s relatively flat and supposed to be a fast course. A few years ago, it was named one of the most scenic fall marathons on the east coast. Who wouldn’t want to run along Ocean Drive? And then past the Bellevue Mansions? It’s breathtaking, especially in the fall, and if I’m going to run 26.2 miles, there better be something to look at.
3. Newport is a symbol of health and happiness for me.
Really Jamestown is, but I’m lumping them together because Jamestown is so small you can’t even see it on most maps. For newer readers who weren’t around when I used to talk about my eating disorder on a regular basis, moving to Rhode Island gave me my life back. I hit rock bottom senior year of high school and my parents let me move to RI provided I show weekly progress and work with a team of doctors. I don’t think I could have recovered had I stayed in my hometown. I was unhappy and staying would have hindered my recovery. I relapsed a few times while I was in college, and every summer, coming home to Jamestown and Newport was like pressing the reset button to get me back on track. Running Newport Marathon holds an extra special meaning to me. It’s the place that I regained my health. It’s where I’m happiest. It’s home. I always wanted Newport to be my first marathon because it holds so much meaning.
^^That picture is currently the background on my phone. Until this picture was taken when we went home for vacation in July, my background on my phone has never been anything but my family’s sailboat. This picture represents happiness. You can tell just by looking at my face. I got to be home with my family in my favorite place in the entire world and my boyfriend was beside me for it. This is as good as it gets (well, unless I lived there…). I’m really looking forward to having all of that again, plus adding running into the mix this weekend. It means the world to me in a way I can’t put into words.
I honestly didn’t think I’d make it to the starting line for this race. I figured I’d have to drop down to the half distance in the middle of training due to injuries. This is the first time I’ve actually been able to finish what I’ve started with running. I have loose goals in my head, but my primary one was to make it through a training cycle, however unconventional it was. I’m proud of myself for doing whatever it takes stay healthy.
When I run those 26.2 miles through Newport on Sunday, I’m finishing for my health. I’m doing it with a smile on my face. And I’ll be surrounded by family and friends at the end. With my boyfriend running alongside me for the last 8 miles. It literally doesn’t get any better. I’m excited. The work is done. Now I just have to finish what I came here to do.
How do you choose what races to run?